Australian police have seized dramatic footage and images of gun-wielding Melbourne-based terrorist cell supporters who allegedly took money from Victorians under the guise of raising cash for humanitarian aid.
Victorian Tamil Tiger terrorist cell supporter Aruran Vinayagamoorthy is pictured proudly wearing a Tamil Tiger uniform and brandishing an automatic military assault rifle.
It is just one of many images seized by police during raids on the suburban Melbourne homes of courier Vinayagamoorthy, Tamil community newspaper editor Sivarajah Yathavan and Sydney accountant Arumugan Rajeevan.
Crown Prosecutor Mark Dean, SC, said the men formed the leadership group of the Australian arm of the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers and Supreme Court judge Paul Coghlan said he accepted they did.
The men had regular meetings with Melbourne-based but now dead Thillai Jeyakumar, who bragged on video tapes seized by police about being the leader of the Australian branch of Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Mr Dean said an Australian-based charity run by the men was used as a cover to collect and send money to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.
Police seized video footage during raids in 2005 of Rajeevan and Yathavan, a married father of two from Vermont South, firing a machinegun on board a Tamil Tiger gunboat in Sri Lanka and visiting one of the group's terrorist training camps.
The Herald Sun has also obtained photographs of Vinayagamoorthy and Rajeevan posing with world Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
Vinayagamoorthy, 35, of Mount Waverley, Yathavan, 39, and Rajeevan, 44, have each pleaded guilty to providing more than $1 million to the LTTE and Vinayagamoorthy also admitted providing the LTTE with electronic devices, at least one of which was used to make and detonate a bomb used in a terrorist attack.
Justice Coghlan sentenced all three to be jailed for a year for providing more than $1 million to the LTTE and jailed Vinayagamoorthy for 18 months for providing the electronic devices.
But he then released all three on $1000 good-behaviour bonds. In Yathavan and Rajeevan's cases, for three years, and in Vinayagamoorthy's case for four years.
Family and friends hugged the men as they left court and Rajeevan said: "Tamils in Sri Lanka can't expect justice from the Sri Lankan Government but today we have received justice from the Australian justice system."
The court was told the three accused used their Tamil Co-ordinating Committee - an Australian charity that claimed to be distributing donations as humanitarian aid to Tamils in Sri Lanka - as a cover to collect and send money and equipment to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.
Hundreds of Australian-based Tamils were persuaded to contribute monthly direct-debit payments to the TCC and it also used charity tins to collect money from Victorians on roadsides and in shopping centres.
"TCC are the Tigers and the Tigers are TCC," Vinayagamoorthy was recorded telling an associate.
Documents seized by police in Melbourne revealed LTTE leaders in Sri Lanka told their Australian supporters "all funds raised will be used only for strengthening the troops of the movement".
LTTE leaders in Sri Lanka thought so highly of Rajeevan and Yathavan that they granted the Australians access to one of their terrorist training camps in 2003.
Police in Australia later seized footage taken at the camp of Rajeevan and Yathavan watching male and female LTTE members demonstrating their prowess with mortars and other weapons and of Yathavan firing a large calibre gun.
Yathavan admitted to police that senior LTTE member Balasegaram Kandiah gave a speech after their training camp demonstration - which took place during a shaky ceasefire agreement between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government - in which he told them they had visited special places and that they should now go back to Australia to raise money for the LTTE cause.
Vinayagamoorthy, Rajeevan and Yathavan each admitted supporting the LTTE but denied being LTTE members and claimed the $1.9 million they helped collect in Australia between August 2001 and November 2005 was for humanitarian purposes in Sri Lanka - a claim disputed by the prosecution.
Justice Coghlan yesterday said he accepted all three men knew of the LTTE's reputation as a terrorist organisation but also accepted they didn't consider it to be one.
"But in sending funds to the LTTE they took the risk that the funds were being used inappropriately," he said.
"There is ample material from which it can be concluded that the accused knew of the military activities of the LTTE and of the military preparedness even during the period of ceasefire."
Justice Coghlan told the men: "I would not go so far as saying that your aims were entirely humanitarian. But I do accept that they were not purposely to assist terrorist activity."
The LTTE was formed in the 1970s and spent three decades in a bloody civil war before the Sri Lankan Government claimed victory in May last year.
LTTE supporters claim it wasn't a terrorist organisation but a legitimate separatist group that wanted a separate Tamil homeland in the north and east of Sri Lanka. (Herald Sun)