The United States took action Thursday against a Sri Lankan charity with branches in the United States and in other countries for allegedly raising money to help bankroll terrorist activities.
The Treasury Department moved against the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization, with the acronym TRO, with headquarters in Sri Lanka and offices in 17 countries worldwide. Any bank accounts or other financial assets found in the United States that belong to the charity must be frozen. Americans are forbidden from making donations or otherwise doing business with the group.
The department accused the charity as acting "as a front to facilitate fundraising" and other support for the Tamil Tigers, known formally as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The United States has previously deemed the Tamil Tigers a terrorist group.
The rebel group in Sri Lanka has been fighting for an independent homeland since 1983. The 3 million mainly Hindu Tamils have long faced discrimination from the predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese majority in the nation of 19 million people. The conflict has killed thousands of people on the island, which lies off India's southern tip.
"TRO passed off its operations as charitable, when in fact it was raising money for a designated terrorist group responsible for heinous acts of terrorism," said Adam Szubin, director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. The agency administers and enforces the United States' financial sanctions programs.
The United States claims that the Tamil Tigers oversees the activities of the TRO.
The department alleges that in the United States the charity has raised funds on behalf of the Tamil Tigers through a network of individual representatives. "According to sources within the organization, TRO is the preferred conduit of funds from the United States to the (Tamil Tigers) in Sri Lanka," the department said.
TRO also was involved in the purchase of "munitions, equipment, communications devices and other technology" for the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the department alleged.
The department did not say how much money, if any, the charitable group has in the United States. The department did not provide a location for the charity's U.S. branch.
"TRO's efforts worldwide reportedly have allowed the (Tamil Tigers) to use humanitarian aid, which TRO collected from the international community after the December 2004 tsunami, to launch new campaigns to strengthen the (Tamil Tigers) military capacity," the department alleged.