December 31, 1984: LTTE slaughters civilians in Sri Lanka

On December 31, 1984 the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam killed four youths who had refused to join the group.

BATTICALOA, SRI LANKA – It is bad enough having to fight against terrorist group: it is worse to be killed for refusing to join it.

When I was graduating from Western University (or as we used to call it, the University of Western Ontario) way back in the early 1980s my job prospects were not great. I was, after all, an arts major (French and Spanish) and Canada (and much of the world) was in a deep recession. Employment was precarious at best and my skills were rather specialised.

As I began to resign myself to one of two pathways – go on to a PhD or work for the London Life Insurance Company – I came across a posting for ‘linguists’ at the Department of National Defence (DND) and applied. Long story short, it was not DND but Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s signals intelligence (SIGINT) agency, and my 32-year career in intelligence was about to begin (hint: I got the position).

The name’s Gurski, Phil Gurski (Photo: MattCC716 CC BY-SA 2.0)

Choosing a profession is not always easy: I lucked out. For many, deciding where one’s passions lie has to be measured against earning one’s keep. The two do not always align. In my case they did.

Suffice to say that few would elect to join a terrorist group as their #1 preference. The pay is non-existent, the conditions are dangerous, and you have to kill people. On the other hand you can also be killed for refusing to become part of the group.

On this day in 1984

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) killed four youths who had refused to join the guerrillas. The bodies of the four, all Tamils, were found on the outskirts of Batticaloa with placards describing them as traitors: they had been shot in the head.

When the war was coming to an end, I wanted the [Tamil] Tigers to lose the fight. I wanted it to end, even if my own people had to be killed.

Sri Lankan filmmaker Jude Ratnam

Throughout 1984 the LTTE killed 30 Tamil youths whom they said were ‘informers‘ or ‘thieves’. With that kind of pressure, is it any wonder some would decide to join the terrorist group? I wonder what the LTTE dental plan is like?

Read More Today in Terrorism

Listen to the Latest Borealis Podcast

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

Leave a Reply