U.S. convicts Singapore man in Tamil Tigers arms plot in 28 tons of U.S.-made weapons and ammunition conspiracy.

A federal jury in Baltimore has convicted a Singapore national…

A federal jury in Baltimore has convicted a Singapore national of conspiring to provide weapons to Tamil Tiger rebels operating in Sri Lanka, the U.S. Justice Department said on Monday.

Balraj Naidu, 48, was charged in a conspiracy to provide material support to the rebel group designated in 1997 by the U.S. Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization.

According to evidence presented at his trial, Naidu and four co-conspirators arranged to buy some 28 tons of U.S.-made weapons and ammunition from an undercover business in Maryland.

Tamil Tiger representatives made a $250,000 (S$326,700) down-payment on the $900,000 (S$1.176 million) weapons deal with the bogus company in the summer of 2006, the Justice Department said.

Naidu’s partners were arrested in September 2006, after inspecting the weapons that had been delivered to Guam and making another payment of $450,000 to the undercover business, the Justice Department said. Naidu was arrested after a further investigation, it said.

U.S. officials said the group also had tried to buy weapons from China, Thailand, North Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia for the group formally known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to be used against Sri Lankan government forces.

Naidu faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The co-conspirators: Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, 40, of Sri Lanka; Haji Subandi, 73, and retired Indonesian Marine Corps General Erick Wotulo, 62, both Indonesians; and Haniffa Bin Osman, 59, of Singapore, all pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 57 months, 37 months, 30 months and 37 months in prison, respectively.

The LTTE had advocated the violent overthrow of the Sri Lankan government and a separate state for Tamils since the movement’s inception in 1976.

Source: Reuters via AsiaOne.

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