Sri Lankan pleads guilty in Tamil Tigers arms plot

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2007 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan national pleaded guilty in a Maryland court Thursday to charges he tried to smuggle US weapons to Tamil Tiger rebels, the US Justice Department announced. Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, 37, pleaded guilty to attempted export of arms and munitions and to conspiracy to support the Tamil Tigers, a group the US State Department has considered a foreign terrorist organization since 1997.

Varatharasa was the last of six defendants in the plot to be convicted of trying to obtain military weapons in the 2006 scheme in violation of US law.

He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to the Tigers, and 10 more years for trying to export weapons and ammunition.

US District Judge Catherine Blake has not set a sentencing date.

“We are committed to using all available legal tools to prevent terrorism,” said US Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein.

Six people — four Indonesians, a Singaporean, and Varatharasa — were arrested late last year after US undercover officers trapped them in a sting operation.

They had sought to buy 53 military weapons, including sniper rifles, m