Profile of A Chrishanthakumar alias Shanthan - leader of the LTTE in London
The head of LTTE in the United Kingdom A Chrishanthakumar known as Shanthan was arrested by the Counter Terrorism Unit of the Metropolitan Police on June 21, 2007 on the grounds of his involvement with the United Kingdom proscribed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
He came to the United Kingdom as a student in the late 1960’s and qualified as mechanical engineer and was employed as maintenance engineer for a leading international engineering company until the time the company went under in the late 1980’s. He joined the LTTE in 1989. His close friends say he was associated with the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation (EROS) prior to this and was a vocal critic of the LTTE before he joined them.
Following loosing his job with the engineering company, he became a full time activist of the LTTE. He joined the LTTE at the time Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Colonel Kittu was the head in the UK.
It is appropriate to publish the brief background of Colonel Kittu for ease of reference.
According to Wikapedia-free Encyclopedia: ‘Sathasivam Krishnakumar also known as Colonel Kittu was a well-known commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE had significant victories against the Sri Lankan army under Krishnakumar. He managed to resist the military successfully with few LTTE cadres. Krishnakumar badly wounded both legs and lost one of it in a grenade attack by rival Tamil group grenade attack and required an artificial limb to be fitted in Britain. In 1990 Britain ordered his deportation, prompting him to seek political asylum in Switzerland. But when it appeared that his request was unlikely to be granted, he left in 1992 for an undisclosed European destination. Despite this, LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran appointed him to carry the LTTE's ships conrolling leader.
‘After the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the U.K. authorities served Krishnakumar a quit notice on the grounds that he engaged in extortion of funds from Tamils living in the country. Krishnakumar moved to France, and then to Switzerland, where he said to be lived for a year before boarding the LTTE arms ship m.v. Ahat (also known as Yahata), which was interdicted by the Indian Navy in January 1993. He died in a mid-sea confrontation on January 14.’
Shanthan with his interactive engagement with Kittu was able to win his confidence and became his confidant. Kittu too became dependent on Shanthan and wherever he went he found comfort in taking him. Shanthan too transformed himself into a loyal servant of Kittu and will do anything when ordered without any questions being asked. This is the modes operandi of Shanthan and even practiced with Anton Balasingam when came to the United Kingdom in 1999.
Shanthan was said to supply large quantities of stolen photocopy papers from his Engineering company he was working to the LTTE activities in the early days whilst he was serving under Kittu.
When Kittu decided to leave the United Kingdom, he had to appoint a successor for his position. Though Kittu had concerns over Shanthan’s arrogance towards others, he had no choice other than appointing him, as there was no one else he could have trusted.
Those who closely associated with Kittu will say that Kittu had some reservations in his decision to appoint Shanthan to succeed him. This reservation became serious concern for him when Shathan spoke to him in an arrogant manner just before he was leaving Switzerland to board the ship to reach the LTTE controlled Vanni. He had said: ‘I do not know whether I made the right decision in appointing Shanthan’. What transpired for Kittu to make such statement is unknown. Sources say it is the arrogant tone of Shanthan that worried Kittu, but he wanted to leave matters until he reached Vanni safely.
Kittu’s death was the first test for Shanthan and he organised series of demonstrations in London including in front of the Indian High Commission. Shanthan’s prominence became well known when he carried out pro-active fund raising activities which he started in the mid 1990’s. He was able to rally round many youngsters and engaged them in the fund raising activities. Operating from a dungeon office in East Ham at 221 Katherine Road, he was able to show his strength in fund raising.
He realised the need to open a new office as the volume of work involved from fund raising and preparing for LTTE demonstrations were becoming hindrance for him in the derelict office. He also feared for his life as the property situated at a junction was a security threat for him. Katherine Road property was bought for the LTTE by international finance head and LTTE’s then World Federation of Tamils Head Nagendram Seevaratam.
This address was also the residence for LTTE finance head Rupert Soosaipillai known as Thanam. There were times when quarrels between the duos will reach acrimonious level and Shanthan had taken the liberty to change the locks of the doors of Katherine Rd to prevent Thanam entering the premises as a punishment. This bitter relationship was patched up over a period, as Thanam decided to accept Shanthan’s terms, as he realised he has lot to loose if he confronted him.
In 1996 Shanthan bought the two floor Eelam House in Long Lane in the Simon Hughes MP’s constituency of Southwark and Bermondsey. This was a massive building and refurbishment was undertaken to house all the activities of the LTTE from that office. The LTTE’s TRO, TEEDOR, TCHR, Sencholai etc found offices in Eelam House and came under the direct supervision of Shanthan.
With the acquisition of the Eelam House, Shanthan’s arrogance extended further. He perceived himself as the High Commissioner of Tamil Eelam and was telling people that Eelam House will be the future High Commission of emerging Tamil Eelam.
Intoxicated with power and living with the hypocritical mindset, his arrogant dictates started to hurt the LTTE fund raising activists. There came a point in 1996 when the fund raisers could not bear his dictates any more and they decided to go on strike and collectively demanded his removal from office. With that the fund raising activities also came to a standstill. Panic started to render the LTTE leadership in Vanni to take some remedial measures. The LTTE leadership sent Paris based Kandiah Perinpanathan alias Nathan to sort out the mess.
Nathan was the pal of Veerakathy Manoharan who succeeded Lawrence Thilagar in Paris.
Nathan accompanied by Kajenthiran alias Kajan the editor of LTTE’s Eelamurasu Tamil newspaper made series of visits to London to put things right. Nathan with the backing of the LTTE leadership was able implement systems and procedures and transformed the Eelam House operations acceptable to the activists. Nathan’s popularity as a result increased among LTTE activists in London. Except for sacking Shanthan, he did everything possible to organise a stable environment for the activists. Whether he was contemplating to sack Shanthan after implementing the changes is everyone’s guess as he was shot and killed in Le’ Chapple with his colleague Kajan in the brought day light. The killers were not found yet.
Nathan only returned from London the day before and was proceeding to the LTTE owned and managed International Supermarket in Lune when he and his colleague were killed. Before he left London he had told his trusted friends in London that he had to come again to sort out some serious ‘Thillu Mullu’s (misdealing) involving Shanthan.
Shanthan’s relationship with the LTTE’s former International Secretariat head Lawrence Thilagar (now known as Lawrence Christy now in Vanni) gave lot of strength to him as he knew Lawrence will come to his rescue at difficult times. The death of Nathan and Kajan sent shivers within the LTTE and Thilagar was ordered to return to Vanni immediately. Thilagar reached Vanni by LTTE’s clandestine shipping service. With the departure of Thilagar and death of Nathan, Shanthan arrogated more powers to himself and went on a spree to control everything including the LTTE supportive independent organisations and individuals.
He demanded all LTTE supportive and independent organisations and individuals to come under Eelam House control. He started to treat those who did not cooperate with contempt and went on the process of bringing the independent Expatriate Tamil Association which ran a parallel Parliamentary Pressure Group, International Tamil Foundation, Tamil Guardian, Deepam TV, Tamil Community Housing Association, International Broadcasting Corporation, Tamil Refugee Action Group, Tamil Directories etc under Eelam House control.
He became a habitual schemer and thrived on coercive manipulations, threats and campaign of hate practised to take over and bring down organisations and individuals. He used the services of Liverpool based Dr N Satchithananthan and Senthilkumar to extend his forceful takeover efforts. Senthilkumar who is the present head of British Tamil Forum who successfully brought the IBC and TTN under LTTE control whilst Dr Satchithananthan played his role obediently to take over the Tamil Guardian. Those who did not co-operate were branded as traitors and treated with contempt.
The Expatriate Tamil Association went under as a result of Shanthan’s campaign and the Tamil Directories was put under direct competition by starting a rival Murasam directory when the owners refused to handover their company to the LTTE.
Shanthan was worried when Anton Balasingam arrived in the UK. Numerous complaints were made against him to Balasingam. There was hope within the LTTE circle in London that Shanthan will be knuckled by Anton Balasingam. Shanthan played the game in the manner he is expert in and bent down like spineless worm to become a puppet of Anton Balasingam. Within a year he proved himself indispensable for Balasingam.
With enormous funds at his disposal, he was freely dishing out money to keep Anton Balasingam happy. He personally delivers £2,000 in cash to Balasingam every month on a specific date. A house was bought for his accommodation in the names of LTTE activists Shanteepan and Vijayakumar Balasingam in Streatham and fully furnished with security cameras installed at enormous costs. In addition to providing a car with the driver to Anton Balasingam, Shanthan also handed over the car purchased for 1999 LTTE cricket raffle to Mrs Adele Balasingam without giving it to the raffle winner. This car was later smashed by Shanthan’s men and an insurance claim was made to purchase another car for Mrs Adele Balasingam.
Shanthan was on the finger tip of Balasingam. Whenever he is summoned by mobile phone, Shanthan without giving excuses abandon everything he was doing to attend to his master. LTTE sources say, in addition to the monthly £2,000 cash contribution, Shanthan was paying Anton Balasingams mortgage payments and all the utility charges for the house without making any fuss. Shanthan also ensured there was no shortage of Johnny Walker stock for Anton Balasingam at his house.
Having won the heart and mind of Anton Balasingam, Shanthan worked in a systematic way to turn against those whom he disliked. Anton Balasingam became almost a stooge of Shanthan until his death even though according to LTTE sources their relationship had strained before his death. In order to keep Anton Balasingam under his thump, Shanthan got his sister Indra Fernando who is a retired nurse to provide daily nursing care to him and this was said to be the mitigating circumstance for Anton Balasingam not to go all out against Shanthan before his death.
Shanthan took fund raising as a challenged and wanted to be on top amongst fund collecting countries. In addition to traditional fundraising efforts he took money from people by making them to re-mortgage their properties and loan the LTTE from credit card advances. Many of them who parted with large sums of money were put into difficulties when funds were not returned as promised.
Shanthan always was targeting the big fishes for finances and kept a portfolio of wealthy Tamils to raise funds personally. He drove faraway as to Cardiff, Bolton, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland to meet the wealthy Tamil professionals to raise funds regularly.
Shanthan was reluctant to go to Vanni to meet the LTTE leadership and always maintained that he will not go unaccompanied. With the ceasefire agreement, Anton Balasingam was able to convince him to join with hin twice to Vanni. When he visited for the second time, he was taken away by Pottu’s intelligence wing without the knowledge of Anton Balasingam. Pottu could not interrogate him for too long as he was soon released as a result of Anton Balasingam’s intervention.
Shanthan is married to LTTE supremo’s wife Mathivathani’s cousin and have two teenage sons. He was not in any gainful employment since he left the engineering company and was living on the funds collected for the LTTE cause.