Tied To Terroristshttp://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-simtamil0822.artaug22,0,880858.story?coll=hc-headlines-home
The street is a minute walk from my house, and i know 2 kids who live on the same street, and so does my 9th grade math teacher haha
Feds Link Simsbury Man To Violent Sri Lankan Separatists
August 22, 2006
By DIANE STRUZZI, Courant Staff Writer SIMSBURY -- A federal sting against a violent Sri Lankan separatist group hoping to buy surface-to-air missiles and hundreds of assault weapons led FBI agents to the quiet cul-de-sac home of stoneworks business owner Nachimuthu Socrates.
Early Monday, federal agents descended on 16 Hearthstone Drive and arrested the 54-year-old father, one of about a dozen people charged nationwide in recent days with aiding the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - a group that federal officials consider a foreign terrorist organization along with Hezbollah and al-Qaida.
In complaints unsealed Monday, federal agents allege that Socrates took part in a scheme to bribe a state department official to get the separatist group off the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, a move that would have made it easier for the group to raise funds and support. Socrates also is accused of conspiring to provide material support and resources to the organization, which is also known as "LTTE" and "Tamil Tigers."
Sandwiched between federal agents, Socrates was led into U.S. District Court in Hartford wearing jeans and a yellow shirt. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Rubino asked to detain Socrates without bail because he was a risk of flight and a danger to the community. Socrates remained in custody pending a hearing, possibly later this week, in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y.
In court Monday, his lawyer, Gerald A. Del Piano, said he has known Socrates for 10 years, called him an "outstanding member" of the community and said Socrates has a business with 10 employees.
"To be considered a threat to anyone is a stretch," said Del Piano, whose law office is in Hartford.
After the brief hearing, Del Piano said Socrates "looks forward to resolving these issues as soon as possible."
Little is known about Socrates, who owns the Farmington-based business E.W. Granites & Marbles Inc. The company's website says it specializes in the fabrication and installation of granite and marble.
Employees contacted at the business declined to comment about Socrates, as did neighbors near his Hearthstone Drive home. Simsbury police said the only record they had on Socrates was a speeding ticket in 1999.
Socrates was born in India, came to the U.S. in 1976 and is a U.S. citizen, according to his 29-year-old son, Aristotle Socrates, and 27-year-old daughter, Thenral Socrates. He earned a master's degree in engineering from Columbia University and has lived in Simsbury since 1983, his daughter said.
"He was a great father," Thenral Socrates said. "I think he's innocent and all the charges will be dropped. Everyone, totally, is shocked."
Of the allegations presented in a 35-page complaint, Thenral Socrates said, "Sometimes they get things wrong."
But federal authorities describe Socrates as a supporter in North America of the Tamil Tigers, an organization authorities say uses illegal methods, including suicide bombings, in its efforts to establish an independent ethnic Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka.
The group has conducted about 200 suicide bombings in the past 15 years. Fighting this month in northern Sri Lanka between LTTE forces and government troops has claimed about 800 lives.
Authorities say the conspiracy Socrates is alleged to have been involved in included fundraising to support the organization in the U.S. and Canada.
From 2004 to earlier this year, Socrates met with undercover agents to discuss financial terms of the bribe and the purchase of purportedly classified documents from the United States, according to federal authorities. They allege he gave a $500 check at one point, and later $5,000 in cash to remove the group's name from the list. The group later scrapped the bribery plan. In December, Socrates allegedly met with undercover agents about the purchase of classified documents, gave them money and viewed documents, taking notes.
But court documents show that was only part of a larger effort to support the group's cause. The separatist group also wanted to shoot down Sri Lankan military aircraft, according to Steven Siegel, special agent for the FBI office in Newark, N.J. That office's Joint Terrorism Task Force headed the probe with the assistance of more than 20 FBI field offices, including those in Connecticut, New York, Washington and California.
Siegel said federal agents moved on the arrests now because the separatist organization was stepping up its efforts to acquire sophisticated military technology, in particular surface-to-air missiles. The actions of the suspects accused in the case were not directed at the U.S. But, Siegel said, it begs the question of how the U.S. can ask other nations for help in stopping terrorism if the U.S. turns its back on terrorist groups within its reach.
In addition, Siegel said of the six-year investigation: "If they can acquire weapons of this caliber, who's to say they wouldn't transfer them to someone actively trying to hurt the U.S."
Federal authorities say four individuals were arrested Saturday after three of them traveled from Canada to New York to try to purchase weapons from an undercover agent posing as a military arms expert. Siegel said additional arrests are expected.