April 18, 2012 | Filed under: Colombo Telegraph

By Colombo Telegraph -

Hakeem 1 colombotelegraph

Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem

“In recent weeks the Embassy has received several anonymous letters from Muslim groups alleging that they are being targeted for abduction for ransom. One such letter from the ‘Muslim Community in Sri Lanka,’ with no return address, states that ‘within a short period they have kidnapped and collected huge sums from Muslim businessmen.’ Several Muslim leaders have alleged that Muslim businessmen are being targeted for abduction now that most prominent Tamil businessmen have either paid off paramilitary groups or fled the country.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from WikiLeaks database, which details a meeting the US Ambassador to Colombo has had with then Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Rauff Hakeem( Present Justice Minister). The cable is classified as “SECRET” and written by the Ambassador Robert O. Blake on June 19, 2007.

Under the subheading “MUSLIM LEADER STATES ABDUCTIONS COME ‘FROM THE VERY TOP’” the ambassador wrote “Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader and Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Rauff Hakeem (strictly protect) told Ambassador on June 14 that he believed that those carrying out abductions receive ‘patronage from the very top,’ but did not elaborate further. Hakeem stated that he has received many complaints from his constituents recently about abductions for ransom among the Muslim community but that victims were ‘petrified’ to come forward and make a formal complaint. According to Hakeem, some prominent Muslim businessmen have decided to leave Sri Lanka until the threat of abduction subsides. In reference to government-sanctioned abductions of Muslim businessmen for ransom, Hakeem said that the Muslim community ‘has never seen this before.’”

Placing a comment Blake wrote “The negative impact of abductions is spreading beyond the Tamil community and past extra-judicial methods of dealing with possible LTTE supporters into abductions of any minority with a large bank account. Muslim leaders like Rauff Hakeem are increasingly critical of the Rajapaksa administration’s apparent tolerance for abductions, and numerous recent media reports have called attention to the growing trend of Muslim abductions for ransom. The Ambassador met with Foreign Minister Bogollogama on June 13 in part to flag to the Government our concern about this new trend and the need for the GSL to address it”

Below we give the relevant part of the confidential cable;

VZCZCXRO9010OO RUEHBI RUEHLMCDE RUEHLM #0861/01 1700544ZNY SSSSS ZZHO 190544Z JUN 07FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBOTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6287 INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0214RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7197RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 5304RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3844RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1104RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 3915 RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 1139RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3001 RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 7783RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5443 RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0260RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION PRIORITYRUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITYRHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITYRUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2136 RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITYRHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITYRUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000861 SIPDIS SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS AND PMMCC FOR D NASSIRY AND E BURKE E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2017TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CESUBJECT: SRI LANKA: ABDUCTIONS PLAGUE MUSLIM COMMUNITY REF: COLOMBO 842 Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., for reasons 1.4(b,d).

EMBASSY RECEIVES AN INFLUX OF COMPLAINTS —————————————- 2. (C) In recent weeks the Embassy has received severalanonymous letters from Muslim groups alleging that they arebeing targeted for abduction for ransom. One such letterfrom the "Muslim Community in Sri Lanka," with no returnaddress, states that "within a short period they havekidnapped and collected huge sums from Muslim businessmen."Several Muslim leaders have alleged that Muslim businessmenare being targeted for abduction now that most prominent Tamil businessmen have either paid off paramilitary groups orfled the country. MUSLIM LEADER STATES ABDUCTIONS COME "FROM THE VERY TOP" ——————————————— ———– 3. (S) Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader and Minister ofPosts and Telecommunications Rauff Hakeem (strictly protect)told Ambassador on June 14 that he believed that thosecarrying out abductions receive "patronage from the verytop," but did not elaborate further. Hakeem stated that hehas received many complaints from his constituents recentlyabout abductions for ransom among the Muslim community butthat victims were "petrified" to come forward and make a formal complaint. According to Hakeem, some prominent Muslimbusinessmen have decided to leave Sri Lanka until the threatof abduction subsides. In reference to government-sanctionedabductions of Muslim businessmen for ransom, Hakeem said thatthe Muslim community "has never seen this before."

6. (C) COMMENT: The negative impact of abductions isspreading beyond the Tamil community and past extra-judicialmethods of dealing with possible LTTE supporters intoabductions of any minority with a large bank account. Muslimleaders like Rauff Hakeem are increasingly critical of the Rajapaksa administration’s apparent tolerance for abductions,and numerous recent media reports have called attention tothe growing trend of Muslim abductions for ransom. TheAmbassador met with Foreign Minister Bogollogama on June 13in part to flag to the Government our concern about this newtrend and the need for the GSL to address it (reftel).BLAKE