Entries Tagged "Sri Lanka"

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200-Meter Tunnel Discovered in Sri Lankan Prison


In a startling discovery, officials of the Kalutara Prison on Horana Road have found a tunnel nearly 200 metres long and eight feet below the prison ground leading to the Kalu Ganga complete with electricity and light bulbs, dug by LTTE suspects in custody over a period of one year.

The tunnel was uncompleted. And the article fails to answer the most important question about this sort of thing: What did they do with the dirt?

“We also suspect that they would have daubed their bodies with soil and had later washed it away to prevent detection of their clandestine project,” the official said.

I don’t see that method being able to dispose of 200 meters worth of dirt over the course of a year, even assuming a small tunnel.

Posted on October 5, 2007 at 1:47 PMView Comments

Low-Tech Air Force Grounds High-Tech Air Force

Good story:

SRI Lanka’s powerful air force has been grounded by single-engined, propeller-driven aircraft adapted by Tamil Tiger guerillas to carry bombs under their wings.
The “Flying Tigers”—the tiny air wing of the brutal LTTE insurgents fighting for a separate Tamil state—are proving more than a match for Sri Lanka’s well-equipped air force.

After a second night raid on the capital, Colombo, it is clear to South Asian military analysts that the world’s only guerilla movement with an air-strike capacity has been able to attack virtually unchallenged by the conventional air force.

Flying hundreds of kilometres from secret jungle airstrips, the Flying Tigers, in what are believed to be adapted Zlin Z-142 aircraft of Czech design, have been untroubled other than by ground fire as they have successively raided the country’s biggest military base, next to the international airport, and oil and gas installations on the fringes of the city.

After each attack, they have returned to their bases, outwitting the Sri Lankan air force, which has a fleet of more than 100 aircraft.

Even sophisticated radar and air defence systems have done little more than warn of impending attacks and allow time for anti-aircraft batteries to open fire into the night sky, aiming at targets they cannot see.

The air force’s Israeli Kfirs, Russian Mig-27s and Y-8 bombers have remained grounded, along with its force of MI-17 and MI-24 helicopter gunships.

Posted on May 9, 2007 at 6:09 AMView Comments

Technological Arbitrage

This is interesting. Seems that a group of Sri Lankan credit card thieves collected the data off a bunch of UK chip-protected credit cards.

All new credit cards in the UK come embedded come with RFID chips that contain different pieces of user information, in order to access the account and withdraw cash the ATMs has to verify both the magnetic strip and the RFID tag. Without this double verification the ATM will confiscate the card, and possibly even notify the police.

They’re not RFID chips, they’re normal smart card chips that require physical contact—but that’s not the point.

They couldn’t clone the chips, so they took the information off the magnetic stripe and made non-chip cards. These cards wouldn’t work in the UK, of course, so the criminals flew down to India where the ATMs only verify the magnetic stripe.

Backwards compatibility is often incompatible with security. This is a good example, and demonstrates how criminals can make use of “technological arbitrage” to leverage compatibility.

EDITED TO ADD (8/9): Facts corrected above.

Posted on August 9, 2006 at 6:32 AMView Comments

Causes of Suicide Terrorism

Here’s an absolutely fascinating interview with Robert Pape, a University of Chicago professor who has studied every suicide terrorist attack since 1980.

RP: This wealth of information creates a new picture about what is motivating suicide terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think. The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

….TAC: So if Islamic fundamentalism is not necessarily a key variable behind these groups, what is?

RP: The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

….TAC: If you were to break down causal factors, how much weight would you put on a cultural rejection of the West and how much weight on the presence of American troops on Muslim territory?

RP: The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism.

If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people—three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia—with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran.

….TAC: Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders also talked about the “Crusaders-Zionist alliance,” and I wonder if that, even if we weren’t in Iraq, would not foster suicide terrorism. Even if the policy had helped bring about a Palestinian state, I don’t think that would appease the more hardcore opponents of Israel.

RP: I not only study the patterns of where suicide terrorism has occurred but also where it hasn’t occurred. Not every foreign occupation has produced suicide terrorism. Why do some and not others? Here is where religion matters, but not quite in the way most people think. In virtually every instance where an occupation has produced a suicide-terrorist campaign, there has been a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied community.

….TAC: Has the next generation of anti-American suicide terrorists already been created? Is it too late to wind this down, even assuming your analysis is correct and we could de-occupy Iraq?

RP: Many people worry that once a large number of suicide terrorists have acted that it is impossible to wind it down. The history of the last 20 years, however, shows the opposite. Once the occupying forces withdraw from the homeland territory of the terrorists, they often stop—and often on a dime.

Pope recently published a book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Here’s a review.

UPDATED TO ADD: Salon reviewed the book.

Posted on July 18, 2005 at 8:10 AMView Comments

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.