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Alleged US head of Sri Lankan terrorist group pleads not guilty to charges

[JURIST] Karunakaran Kandasamy, the alleged director of the American branch of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder], and four other defendants pleaded not in US federal court guilty Monday to charges [press release] of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and bribing public officials. Kandasamy, who was arrested on April 25, allegedly headed the LTTE's efforts to draw on the United States' "financial resources and technological advances to advance its war of terror in Sri Lanka and elsewhere." If convicted, Kandasamy faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The joint investigation, which was conducted by the FBI and the New York and Newark Divisions of the US Departtment of Justice Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), and other agencies and foreign governments, found that Kandasamy allegedly held fundraising events through a front organization called the World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC) [advocacy website] at a church and a public high school in Queens, New York between November and December 2004. Kandasamy is also accused of arranging meetings in Sri Lanka [JURIST news archive] between LTTE leaders and LTTE supporters from the United States. The LTTE, often called the "Tamil Tigers," have carried out suicide bombings and assassinations in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the world as part of an effort to establish an independent state in Sri Lanka. Prosecutors allege in the complaint that more than 4,000 people have been killed in the past 15 months in the escalating conflict between the LTTE and Sri Lanka. Reuters has more.

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