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Two Sri Lankans in FBI Sting Plead to Buying Surface-to-Air Missles For Civil War Back Home

The intense civil war in Sri Lanka has spilled over beyond it’s borders. In this case, New York.

By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
New York Times
NEW YORK — Two men from Sri Lanka who were about to go on trial in federal court in Brooklyn on terrorism charges pleaded guilty on Tuesday to plotting to buy shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles for a separatist group in their country.
The men, Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam and Sahilal Sabaratnam, who prosecutors said were acting at the direction of senior members of the group, the Tamil Tigers, in Sri Lanka, also pleaded guilty to attempting and conspiring to provide material support for the group, which the State Department has designated as a terrorist organization.
Mr. Thanigasalam, 40, and Mr. Sabaratnam, 29, entered their pleas before Raymond J. Dearie, the chief judge of United States District Court in Brooklyn, where opening statements were expected to begin on Wednesday.
The guilty pleas stem from a videotaped F.B.I. sting operation in 2006 in which the men sought to buy 10 Russian-made SA-18 heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles and 500 AK-47 assault rifles, prosecutors said. On Monday, two of their co-defendants pleaded guilty to similar charges. Jury selection had been under way in the case.
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