Friday, December 16, 2005

Unimaginative script writer to be fired

Sources close to the Sri Lanka Amy Intelligence said that the man who wrote the ‘helicopter being fired upon in Akkaraipattu’ script will be getting the sack very soon.

The latest in a number of attempts by the Government of Sri Lanka to force the European Union (EU) to ban the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organisation came on 14 December with the now infamous helicopter incident.

‘The helicopter came under fire -- it had two bullet holes and minor damage,’ said Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) spokesman Group Captain Ajantha Silva on Wednesday. He went on further and blamed the LTTE for the incident. As usual the international media were quick to pick up on the story and publish news items such as ‘Tiger rebels fire at helicopter’.

Although the story provided immediate sensation to many war mongers; it failed miserably in holding the ground on the long run. Moreover the incident had little impact on the European Union’s attitude towards the LTTE.

The reason many defense analysts say is the lack of imaginative thinking on the Sri Lankan side.

The helicopter, which was on its way to pick up a 20 strong Italian delegation that was on a visit to Tsunami affected areas of Amparai district came under small arms fire while flying low, close to LTTE administrated areas. The government was quick to pin the blame on the LTTE and further added that as the LTTE was attempting to kill Italian officials and therefore the EU should immediately ban them as a terrorist organisation.

The fact that in the past LTTE had successfully shot down several jet fighters and possesses sophisticated anti aircraft weaponry is well known around the world. In which case, if the LTTE was trying to bring down a helicopter, why would it shoot with an assault rifle? Even if it was the LTTE that fired at the helicopter, would it not have known that as the helicopter was on its way to pick up the officials, only SLAF personals would be on board?

This appears to be where the story crumbles at its core. The Intelligence officer who wrote the script did not want to shoot the helicopter down. The reason being is no SALF pilot was willing to go on a suicide mission, to get the LTTE banned in the EU. Secondly the write did not want the helicopter fired on while Italian officials were on board. The reason for this was he did not want to take the risk of something going wrong, Italian officials being killed and Sri Lankan Intelligence being caught out for having orchestrated the shenanigan.

Although the writer has some obvious reasons for not taking too many risks, some in the intelligence circles continue to blame him for not being imaginative enough. They say he could have written a Hollywood style, pilots ejecting after being shot at story. Even a crash landing or the pilots abandoning the copter to the ground near a residential area, thus also including some civilian casualties would have been far better. Overall the intelligence circle is said to be unhappy with the relative failure of the incident with some branding the story as ‘amateurish’.

Meanwhile it remains to be seen if either the EU or the rest of the international community would buy this ‘amateurish’ story and take the guilty until proven innocent approach towards the LTTE.

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