Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) visited Sri Lanka in 2005 at the behest of a man arrested for offering a $1 million bribe to remove the Tamil Tigers designation as a terrorist organization, and for money laundering for the organization. Even while denying the charge, Davis admits that he was fully aware that the laundering group and the terrorist organization were related.
WASHINGTON — Chicago congressman Danny Davis and an aide took a trip to Sri Lanka last year that was paid for by the Tamil Tigers, a group that the U.S. government has designated as a terrorist organization for its use of suicide bombers and child soldiers, law-enforcement sources said.
Davis’ seven-day trip came under scrutiny this week following the arrests of 11 supporters of the organization on charges of participating in a broad conspiracy to aid the terrorist group through money laundering, arms procurement and bribery of U.S. officials.
The Tamil Tigers, a separatist group that has been fighting since 1983, seek an independent state for 3.2 million ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka, a tear-shaped island nation of 20 million off the southern tip of India. In addition to conventional guerrilla tactics, the group has used terrorist methods, including 200 suicide bombings, in a conflict that has claimed 64,000 lives. Though the violence between the government and the separatists has abated in the past several years, it recently surged, threatening renewed civil war.
Davis said he believed that the trip, from March 30 to April 5, 2005, was paid for by the Tamil federation, which in accordance with congressional ethics rules sent him a written statement of the travel expenses, more than $7,000 each for Davis and his aide, Daniel Cantrell. Davis said he knew that the group was “associated” with the Tamil Tigers but did not realize that the trip’s costs were covered with funds controlled by the rebel group.
“I know who I got the trip from,” Davis said. “I don’t know if any clandestine group gave them money. All I know is what I saw and was told.”
LankaWeb notes that, not unsurprisingly, the Tigers used the Davis visit for their own propaganda purposes.