The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

Zahran Anwar & Thomas Bird

Terrorism is a term that has many given definitions. Most simply, the way to define terrorism is to say that it is a policy intended to intimidate and or cause terror.
Other meanings state it is simply to create fear, to be perpetrated for an “ideological goal” and to deliberately target civilians.
There are many modern terrorist groups operating today, from Al Qaeda to lesser-known groups such as the Al Jihad and Am Ummah.
With the very easily defined terrorist groups, there are some that people aren’t so clear whether they are terrorist or not.
One of these groups is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Most usually known as the “Tamil Tigers”, it is a Sri Lankan terrorist group that has been operating since the mid 70’s.


It has openly waged Civil war with the Sri Lankan military and government since the forming of the group, late in the mid 70’s. It’s main aim is to seek an independent Tamil state in the North and East of the country. According to 37 different countries, it is described as a terrorist group. It causes terror and attracts media attention from their actions, but can it really be known as a terrorist organisation?
The Tamil Tigers generally make themselves known through stunts that attract media attention, such as bombing civilian places and killing hundreds of people. Many terrorist groups aim to fight for a religious cause but the Tamil’s fight for land, and their rights to own land. They murder and injure thousands of people, but they claim it’s for a righteous cause.
They were listed in 2000 as an active Designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the United Nations. The group uses international contacts to acquire weaponry, communications and all supplies and communications. The group exploits Tamil communities around the world including North America, Europe and Asia to obtain funds and supplies for the fighters in Sri Lanka.
They have front organizations, which are under false names, which help them to move their larger and more dangerous weaponry and equipment. The Sri Lankan government has had numerous attempts at having peace talks with the Tamil group, all of which have failed. In 2006 after the breakdown of yet another attempt at peace talks with the Tigers, the Sri Lankan military launched an offensive, which drove the Tamils into a 21.5 square kilometre piece of land. According to numerous sources, the Tamil’s are close to being defeated and the group are receiving calls asking them to surrender before they lose all territory still under their control.
It is also under the belief of many that the group may start a large guerrilla campaign if they are successfully defeated.
There are three main divisions: the military side, the political side and the fundraising side. The Tamils group is known best for the military side. There is a group inside the military group known as the Black Tigers. They are a very well trained and disciplined group that are chosen for missions that they know they will not survive from. Under certain circumstances, the members will have to commit suicide to complete their mission.


Who are they?

The organization is called The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, however is referred to more commonly as the ‘Tamil Tigers’. They are a terrorist group located in Sri Lanka, who have been operating since the mid – 70s.


Why do they do what they do?

They have on a number of occasions waged civil war with the Sri Lankan military and government since they have been established. Their foremost aim is to form an independent Tamil State, in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country. They are referred to as terrorists by 37 countries.


What are their aims?

The aims of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, is to create an independent state for the Tamil people. They fight the government who refuses to give them their state.

What defines them as terrorists?

The fact that they attempt to achieve their aims through violence on societal landmarks would define them as terrorists. They attack landmarks that are often soft targets in public view to show the Sri Lankan government that everything they do is serious. They use explosives and illegal weapons to inflict 'terror' on civilians and those who stand in their path.

What effects have they had on their society?

They have had very negative effects on the Sri Lankan society. They have caused general terror for the entire country of Sri Lanka. They have had major conflicts with the Sri Lankan military and they have attacked civilian soft points and often have engaged in conflicts in civilian zones and caused much carnage.