Eerie coincidence: The twin towers of Colombo, Sri Lanka's World Trade Center (bottom right) loom just a few blocks from Colombo's Central Bank Building. The bank was the site of the January 31st, 1996 bomb blast, which killed at least 100 and wounded over 1400. There were local news reports that "two white men" were seen videotaping the bank building early in the a.m. and again later, after the explosion.
On a round the world trip I took in 1995-96, I spent close to two months in India. India was a mixed bag. Overall, India did not suit me - I did not fall head over heels in love with the place. I longed for tropical beaches and fresh air, at least air that wouldn't turn my skin gun-metal gray as the polluted air in India had. So I bought a ticket to Sri Lanka.
My flight was scheduled to land a couple of days into February. In Delhi, I passed a newspaper stand on the way to the travel agent. I caught sight of a headline about an "Oklahoma City" sized bomb going off in Colombo, with hundreds feared dead. No matter. I was that weary of India. I didn't change my plans. The travel agent mentioned it to me. I said, yes, I'd heard.
When I arrived at Colombo International, I noticed busloads of European tourists leaving the airport for the local resorts. The bomb hadn't scared them off their plans either. Most of them were traveling to beachfront and posh hotels well removed from Colombo. I didn't have a guidebook, so I headed, partly out of curiosity, to "ground zero".
I got a room at the YMCA and eventually made it out to the site of the bombing, which was only a few blocks away at Sri Lanka's Central Bank. There was still a little smoke coming from the main bomb site. A few crowds of onlookers stood, staring dumbfounded at the rubble, and at the massive hole in the pavement in front of the bank buildings (the main section of the bank consists of three buildings in a row, pictured here). The hole looked like it was about 15 feet or more deep, and possibly large enough for an 18-wheeler to fit in.
On the way over I had noticed broken glass from buildings several blocks away, office furniture in some having been shoved by the blast out the back windows. Chairs and desks were hanging on ledges, poised to tip into the alleys below.
The Intercontinental Hotel, a stone's throw from the bank buildings, had all its windows on one side blown out and subsequently boarded up The twin towers of Colombo's World Trade Center, looming nearby, had a few windows near the top busted out as well.
I traveled onward to the nearby Hilton, in search of a local guidebook and something to eat. The few days I was in Colombo, I got into the habit of reading the local English newspapers. There was a small article in one of them.
It stated that on January 31st, two "white men" were seen videotaping the Central Bank Buildings early in the morning, a short time before the bomb blast. They were seen again, soon after the buildings were attacked, videotaping the area once more. They left the area quickly. The article went on to state that a crowd had formed, looking for the two suspects, but could not find them.
I figured something strange was up, but I was no expert on Sri Lankan politics. The idea of chasing down a story in a somewhat chaotic, sweltering hot third world country didn't appeal to me, especially now, considering Colombo appeared to be in a state of siege. Military vehicle checkpoints with armed soldiers had been set up around the city.
The closest relative to this event so far was the 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Building incident. 9-11 hadn't happened yet, and the Internet was barely active, most of it operating at about 33K or slower. I was primarily in tourist mode - I wanted a good beach to relax on. I wanted to see the cafe where Duran Duran made the video for "Hungry Like the Wolf". Stuff like that.
In actuality, I wasn't that superficial. I did take an interest in the fact that Sri Lanka was a well-known haven for pedophiles. I read a book published by a local anti-pedophile activist group. I was aware of the fact that some "artists" (writer Paul Bowles for one, Arthur C. Clarke another) had made homes for themselves in Sri Lanka. Bowles was a member of a group of writers who hung out in Tangier, Morocco in the 40's and 50's, ostensibly on the hunt for young boys
I have a habit of clipping out unusual items in foreign newspapers. I put this one about the two strange videotaping white guys in an envelope and eventually sent it home to my mom. She died of cancer a few years ago, it's in her stuff (somewhere), along with an article on inept surgery at Sri Lankan hospitals, sexual harassment of Sri Lankan women, and a few other things I clipped and folded away.
The area of the Central Bank in Colombo is not exactly picturesque. Far from it. It is not a likely place for tourists to videotape, especially at an hour when most people are just getting out of bed. It's therefore unlikely that these two guys were "tourists" of any sort.
This odd incident parallels the 9-11 attack on New York's World Trade Center and the "Dancing Israeli" Mossad agents who were videotaping the towers as the planes hit them, all the while appearing to be in a most jubilant mood.
The few months that I spent in Sri Lanka, I never heard a mention of the peculiar foreigners again. Nor have I heard about them since then. There was no news of the local police doing any further investigation.
The bank bombing was considered the work of the Tamil (LTTE). The LTTE, like the Sri Lankan miltary, were both trained in Israel, according to Victor Ostrovsky, author of the Mossad expose "By Way of Deception". Israel, said Ostrovsky, was not only training both sides of the conflict. It was selling arms to both sides as well.
The 2008 Mumbai bombing and massacre is believed by some to be largely a Mossad operation in cooperation with Indian intelligence (RAW). Like the attack in Sri Lanka, it also took place in the shadow of a WTC with twin towers: namely Mumbai's World Trade Center (pictured at right). Locals noticed that some of the terrorists were light skinned and light haired. The Sassoon Docks, where one group of terrorists arrived by boat, is almost directly opposite the towers (map here, Sassoon Docks at lower left).
There are World Trade Centers in many cities around the world. The one in my town is a squat building with a round facade. Maybe I should consider myself lucky I don't live in a place that has a WTC with twin towers.
Sri Lanka is strategically useful and has been since the Second World War. Because of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is an important naval link between West Asia and South East Asia. As of late, China has pumped at least a billion dollars into a port on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, ten miles from one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, in the village of Hambantota.
According to one article:
(Hambantota) is where China is building a $1 billion port that it plans to use as a refuelling and docking station for its navy, as it patrols the Indian Ocean and protects China’s supplies of Saudi oil.
Ever since Sri Lanka agreed to the plan, in March 2007, China has given it all the aid, arms and diplomatic support it needs to defeat the Tigers, without worrying about the West...
China is also building or upgrading ports at Gwadar in Pakistan, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Sittwe in Burma.
The article goes on to say that China is, nowadays, the main source of arms sales for the Sri Lankan military:
Beijing appears to have increased arms sales significantly to Sri Lanka since 2007, when the US suspended military aid over human rights issues...China...has also boosted financial aid to Sri Lanka, even as Western countries have reduced their contributions.
China’s aid to Sri Lanka jumped from a few million dollars in 2005 to almost $1 billion last year, replacing Japan as the biggest foreign donor.
In addition, there is the added attraction of the port of Trincomalee. Trincomalee has been eyed by regional and global superpowers such as the United States because of its strategic location on the world's main shipping lanes. It has one of the few natural, deep seawater harbors in Asia, and it is an ideal base for military ships.
As for Israel, the Wayne Madsen Report states:
In May 2000, a day after India refused to give Sri Lanka any military assistance in its war against the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka and Israel resumed diplomatic relations.
Although the corporate media are focusing on Sri Lanka’s military assistance from China, little mention is being made of the island nation’s military links with Israel.
After the establishment of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Colombo, Israeli military technicians arrived...Israeli arms and ammunition also began flooding into Sri Lanka...Soon, Israeli military advisers and “consultants” were regular visitors to Colombo’s new Access Lanka Building, owned by relatives of Sri Lanka’s top military officers...
...Israel’s Mossad recruited agents among Sri Lanka’s large contingent of foreign workers in the Persian Gulf Arab states. There were also reports that Israelis were also providing weapons and training to Tamil guerrillas in order to maintain a “market” for Israeli arms suppliers in the civil war-wracked island nation.
WMR visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia and discovered that the Mossad and Cambodian criminal syndicate allies continue to obtain bought-back Cambodian weapons from Cambodian government warehouses and are selling them to guerrilla groups throughout Asia, including Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers...
WMR photographed a number of Zim shipping containers portside along the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. From this and other port facilities, including the port of Sihanoukville, bought-back Cambodian weapons, some originally provided to the Khmer Rouge by [Israeli tycoon Shaul] Eisenberg and the Chinese, are making their way to insurgent groups around Asia, possibly including Iraqi guerrillas battling U.S. forces in Iraq.
Israel established an Israeli "Special Interests Section" inside the U.S. Embassy in Colombo in the early 1980's. It was headed by David Matnai, a specialist on Asian affairs who was identified by British sources as a Mossad agent. The field agents were on loan from the Shabak, otherwise known as the Shin Bet. On June 28, 1984, a bomb was detontated near the hotel room occupied by the head of the Israeli Interest Section. The explosion caused damage to the room and its contents. One woman was killed in the blast.
In spite of Sri Lanka's cutting diplomatic ties with Israel in 1970 over Palestine, once the Special Interests Section was set up, relations between Israel and Sri Lanka began to grow closer. Israel began providing Sri Lanka with military advisers and established a special commando unit for the Sri Lankan police.
According to "The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms and Why" by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, ...it seems that since Israel became involved in 1984, things have become bloodier and less hopeful. Sri Lanka has now earned the frightening nickname of "The Lebanon of South Asia."
Rafi Eitan (also sometimes spelled Eytan), one time head of the Israeli intelligence agency LEKEM, and close friend of Ariel Sharon, had recruited Jonathan Pollard to spy on the US.
Around 1985, Eitan was sent to Sri Lanka to take over Mossad operations there. His cover was that he was an employee of Israel Chemical Industries, which has had operations in Sri Lanka.
According to an article at Rense.com, Eitan was spotted in the US in 2003.
At the present age of 82 going on 83, it wouldn't appear to most people that Eitan constitutes a threat. According to Wikipedia, he enjoys good health and claims to be nowhere near retirement, a statement which gives the impression, like Kissinger, that he's going to be trouble until he drops dead.
Around 1992, Eitan was involved in projects in Cuba under the company Grupo BM. Grupo BM also won the contract to build the World Trade Center in Havana, and a Holocaust Memorial at the center of the Old City of Havana.
Just what is it with World Trade Centers and the Mossad anyway? And what the hell does Havana need with a "Holocaust Memorial Center"?
More from Wayne Madsen:
In 1990, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa ordered the Israeli Interests Section at the U.S. embassy to close its doors and two Israeli diplomats in Colombo were ordered to leave...Premadasa also ordered a government investigation of charges that Mossad was training both Sri Lankan and Tamil guerrilla forces.
On September 25, 1991, Reuters reported “Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa...yesterday accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of plotting against him because he closed the Israeli interests section in the U.S. embassy. He spoke at the opening session of parliament.”
On May 1, 1993, Premadasa was assassinated in Colombo during May Day festivities by a suicide bomber said to be a Tamil guerrilla. Twenty-three other people were killed in the blast.
On May 28, 1993, Abdul Hameed Mohammed Azwer, Sri Lankan minister of state for Muslim affairs, said in Jeddah, “Israel was enraged by when they were expelled from Sri Lanka by Premadasa and I suspect the Mossad was behind the dastardly murder of this respected leader.”
Those behind Premadasa’s assassination remains an Asian “cold case.” On September 23, 1997, Attorney General Sarath Silva released 18 Tamil suspects in the assassination of the president, citing lack of evidence. Silva declared the case would be officially deemed as “unsolved.”
During a March 2009 trip to Israel by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, talks were held with Israel’s leading arms suppliers on increased military aid by the Israelis to Sri Lanka.
According to Victor Ostrovsky's "By Way of Deception" the Israelis didn't have a high opinion of the Sri Lankans they were training:
"I'll meet you at the airport", Amy (Yaar) said, "because we have a group of people coming from Sri Lanka to train here...When these guys arrive", he said, "don't make a face. Don't do anything."
"What do you mean?", I asked.
"Well these guys are monkeylike. They come from a place that's not developed. They're not long out of the trees. So don't expect much." By Way of Deception, The Making of a Mossad Officer - page 127 (paperback edition).
According to Ostrovsky, there was a logistics error made in the training of Sri Lankans. One time, Sri Lankan miltary and the Tamil were being trained within yards of each other.
On July 5, 1987, a couple of years after the Israelis began training the Tamil, came the very first Tamil suicide bomber.
Here is another report on Israel training Sri Lankan forces from the Toledo (Ohio) Blade.
One blog states:
By 1987 India’s Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi convinced Sri Lankan President Junius Jayawardene to sign the Indo-Sri Lankan peace accord, which gave autonomy to the Tamil areas in the north and east of the island. An amnesty was declared, and 3,000 Indian troops were sent as peacekeepers...
|New Straits Times, June 7, 1987, page 10|
In 1987, the Hindustan Times reported that in the Sri Lankan city of Jaffna, the troops seized large quantities of arms with Israeli markings, meant for the Tamils...when Rajiv Gandhi drafted the peace accord, he demanded that all Israelis leave Sri Lanka...
Under political pressure at home, Rajiv Gandhi withdrew the army, but used the Indian navy to completely shut down the Jewish arms trade in Sri Lanka.
Gandhi was assassinated on 21 May 1991, along with 15 others in a blast.
On 8 Aug 1984, Ghandi’s mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, condemned Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene for bringing Mossad into Sri Lanka. Two months later, Sikh separatists gunned down Indira Gandhi...
In keeping with the trend of Asian countries like Thailand, Japan, Korea, India, Nepal, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Phillipines and China, Sri Lanka as of 2005 has its very own Chabad Lubavitch Centre. It is supposed to be set up for the Jewish community in Sri Lanka, both visiting and resident.
I never noticed that there were a lot of Jews in Sri Lanka, unless you count the Rothschild tea estates on the way to Nuwara Eliya. In fact, the whole time I was there, I only saw two. Wait a minute, three. I almost forgot about the snarky, full-of-herself British television producer who stayed in another room in my guesthouse in Kandy. She spent her vacation there shooting up heroin, or as the locals call it, brown sugar. Between being snotty and dismissive in my presence (when not in a drug haze) she talked about going up to Jaffna to do a documentary on the displaced Tamil.
The other two were Israeli girls in their 20's who hung out quite a bit at the Colombo Hilton. Since I went to the Hilton often for the buffet, I kept running into them. They were always glammed up, sometimes in spandex, and holding court with a different businessman every day. I figured they were paying their sojourn in Asia through prostitution.
I ran into them one time at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, where they had taken a break from their "jobs" to go sightseeing. They looked none too happy to see me - they figured I must have been on to them by then.