Nov 11 (INN) There are many parallels between Sri Lanka’s decades-long fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan (LTTE), more commonly known as the "Tamil Tigers," and Israel’s decades-long fight against the Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, more commonly known as Hamas.
And while Hamas may be now stronger than ever, the Tamil Tigers are only a memory, thanks to the government of Mahindra Rajapaksa [raa·juh·paak·suh], who ended Sri Lanka’s 40-year war against the terror organization by killing its leaders and destroying its war-making infrastructure.
Israel should take a page from the Rajapaksa playbook and do the same to Hamas.
The LTTE was founded in 1976 when Velupillai Prabhakaran took control of the Tamil New Tigers (TNT) and renamed it. Soon he transformed the group from a clandestine terrorist organization into a sprawling mini-state, complete with a navy, air force, and infantry divisions.
Hamas also grew from a clandestine organization that emerged from the 1987 Intifada protests into a sprawling mini-state with a massive stockpile of Iranian and homemade weapons.
French counterterrorism analyst Xavier Raufer coined the term "gray area phenomenon" to denote a middle ground between covert, anti-state terror organizations and nation states that control their own citizens through terror. Like a nation state, a gray area group controls territory, provides services, and functions in many ways as a nation state. Both the LTTE and Hamas fit neatly into this category, and both benefitted from the services provided such as schools and orphanages, where young minds are twisted and child soldiers are forged.
The LTTE is the only non-Islamic group to conduct a sustained campaign of suicide bombings, beginning coincidentally in 1987, the year Hamas was founded. However, as Paul Moorcraft shows in his book, Total Destruction of the Tamil Tigers (2012), Prabhakaran "inspired a cult of suicide as a form of martyrdom for the cause which they described as punitha yutham (pure/holy war)."
Over a 22-year period, the LTTE conducted hundreds of suicide attacks using a variety of methods, including trucks, boats, and airplanes. According to Rohan Gunaratna, the LTTE sent members to the Beka’a Valley in Lebanon and "translated many of the training manuals of the Middle Eastern terrorist groups into the Tamil language."
Moorcraft explains that the LTTE was instrumental in bringing about "a series of innovations to improve the suicide jackets" that Gunaratna credits the LTTE with inventing. It is "essentially a denim vest equipped with explosives," Gunaratna explains, adding that, "The idea for this suicide device came from the jacket that the Tamil Tigers generally wore."
Hamas adopted the same design.
Hamas began conducting suicide attacks against Israelis in 1993, and soon became the most prolific of the many Palestinian Arab terrorist groups to do so.