A former refugee from Sri Lanka, Prapaharan Thambithurai, pleaded guilty to terrorist financing in British Columbia Supreme Court and received a lenient six-month sentence today. He is the first person in Canada charged with terrorist financing under Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. Thambithurai admitted raising funds for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through a non-profit group.
The LTTE was founded in 1976 and uses illegal methods to raise money, acquire weapons and technology, and publicize its cause of establishing an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka. The LTTE began its armed conflict against the Sri Lankan government in 1983, and uses a guerrilla strategy that often includes acts of terrorism. The LTTE has an army of several thousand combatants and until recently, controlled most of the northern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka.
Over the past 17 years, the LTTE has conducted approximately 200 suicide bombings, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people, and carried out numerous political assassinations. The LTTE was designated by Canada as a terrorist organization and therefore may not legally raise money or procure equipment or materials in Canada.
Thambithurai will serve his sentence in Ontario. He will likely be immediately stripped of his refugee status in Canada and deported to Sri Lanka after serving his sentence.