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January 16, 2008

When the Suicide Bomber Is a Woman

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I place a call to Irasiah Ilanthirayan, the LTTE military spokesperson. (Despite their secretive attacks, the LTTE is remarkably visible on the global political scene — a few strategically placed phone calls put me in direct contact with its headquarters in Kilinochchi, in the northern region of the country, although cell and e-mail communication with the LTTE is frequently disrupted by the Sri Lankan government.) I ask Ilanthirayan how his organization justifies sending young women to kill innocent civilians and, ultimately, themselves. “Our suicide bombers do not take their own life, but give it to the cause,” he says. “They are not killers, they are givers. They give their lives for the Tamil nation.”

And the cyanide? “Even myself, I still wear it,” Ilanthirayan tells me. “Our secrets should be protected. My son, my father, and my sons and daughters to follow would prefer to die before bowing down in front of the enemy.”

As for a solution to the conflict, Ilanthirayan sees only one: “We were two nations, Tamil and Sinhalese, before the European [colonials] came. And two nations is a very good model, a very good solution to this problem.”

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