January 19, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s top Tamil Tiger, who inspired hundreds of followers to stage suicide bombings in the fight for a separate state, is facing his biggest challenge yet and is fast running out of options. To his followers, Velupillai Prabhakaran is seen as a “Sun God” who formed a formidable and feared guerrilla organisation out of a ragtag group of separatist rebels in the 1970s.
But to his enemies, he is considered a ruthless killer, outlawed around the world as a terrorist kingpin and wanted on charges of mass murder.
At the height of his military success, Prabhakaran’s Tigers inflicted heavy losses on the government forces of Sri Lanka and neighbouring India.
But since Sri Lankan forces mounted their biggest ground, sea and air campaign so far to dismantle the de facto Tiger state in the north of the island, Prabhakaran has seen his territory crumble rapidly.
“Prabhakaran is facing the biggest military setback in his career and it is unlikely he can recover,” said former rebel-turned-politician Dharmalingam Sithadthan.
The chubby Prabhakaran, usually pictured wearing combat fatigues and sporting a bushy moustache, inspired hundreds of young men, women and even children