Frontline World

Sri Lanka - Living With Terror



INDEX

THE STORY
Synopsis of "Living with Terror"

REPORTER'S DIARY
34 days in Sri Lanka

THE MAKING OF A SUICIDE BOMBER
Interview and Analysis

A LONELY WARRIOR FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Profile of Rajan Hoole

FIGHTING TERROR WITH PAINT BRUSHES
Slideshow

ANIL'S GHOST BY MICHAEL ONDAATJE
Excerpt from the Novel

LINKS & RESOURCES
Sri Lanka News and Information

MAP

   

 


The Making of a Suicide Bomber
Newspaper editor S. Manoranjan is a Tamil who has been fighting against Sinhalese discrimination for three decades. He's also been fighting -- with a journalist's pen and at great personal risk -- against the terrorism and human-rights violations of the Tamil Tigers. (Human-rights organizations estimate that the Tigers have killed 8,000 fellow Tamils considered to be traitors to the rebel cause.)

Along the way, Manoranjan has become something of an expert on the phenomenon of suicide bombing in Sri Lanka. In a candid interview with FRONTLINE/World's Joe Rubin, Manoranjan describes the Tamil Tigers' method of taking young recruits to a hidden camp in the jungle where they are given special status and primed to become suicide bombers. Manoranjan speaks openly about the intense social conditioning and psychological tactics employed by the LTTE. Asked by Rubin whether LTTE suicide bombers should be thought of as religious and political zealouts, he offers the following response.

"THE RED GARDEN"

...People assume that a cadre who wears a bunkhet and gun and explodes is matured and understands politics; is committed to the cause. No, that is not the thing at all. Where in the beginning that might have been [the case] with one or two cadre, now there is a process of creating human bombs.

The LTTE identified a place called "Red Garden." In 1991, [Tamil leader] Prabhakaran made a speech establishing the Red Garden, saying, "This is going to be the University of the Tamils." Nobody understood at that time.

"THEY ARE JUST ROBOTS"

They [LTTE] collect children from refugee camps where they have lost their parents. [Many of these are small children], five years old, six years old. They have been brought up in this Red Garden. And after two or three years they are separated ... and taken to a hidden place in the jungle. That particular place is named as "Puti de Pumi," a sacred land. This is the place where these human bombs are being produced. They [the children] are not exposed to the war. They only know about their leader. They have a last supper with the leader. They ... feel that they are dying for the leader. That's all. They don't have any idea of fighting for separate state or the commitment towards the cause of the Tamils. Nothing. They are just robots.

"A HUMAN BEING HIMSELF IS A WEAPON"

This is the whole thing that the world should understand today. Because the most dangerous part of it is [that] this particular organization has a capacity of creating human bombs. They say it is the biggest achievement of their leader. In their military writings they use the very words, saying "The modern world has a capacity of improving the dead weapon. ... All these weapons are dead weapons." They [the modern world] can improve [the weapons], they can make sophisticated weapons, but there needs to be a human being to operate that.

But our leader [they say], his discovery ... is that a human being himself is a weapon. No need to carry him. He will walk and explode. That is his achievement, his discovery.

"HE HAS TO GO AND DIE"

Everybody thinks that [cadres] are coming out with a lot of courage and conviction. That is not the case. The cadre has no other solution. Once chosen as a Black Tiger, or suicide killer, there is no way of getting out of the whole thing. ... He can't go back, because saying "I can't do this" will be a shame for him. Everybody will say, "What are you? You are nothing. No, you have to die for the leader."

So before dying you [the cadre] go to meet the leader and have dinner with him. He'll get a photograph with you. So that you will be respected in the Tamil society. It is this kind of brainwashing methodologies.

And on the final day, the cadre comes out of the sea and he's left in a place like Colombo. He's being watched. This cadre has no way of getting out of the whole thing. He knows from the beginning [that in this] society there is an internal intelligence which is following him. So here in Colombo he has to go and die. He has to. Whether he is hitting the target or not, once he wears the jacket, he has to die.

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