Tamil MP demands Govt. reveal amount paid to British mercenary group Keenie Meenie

COLOMBO -The leader of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, has called on the Sri Lankan state to reveal the amount they had paid to the British mercenary organization known as Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) to support their suppression of the Tamil armed resistance.

“The Sri Lankan state needs to come clean and tell Parliament how much they paid Keenie Meenie Services to help repress Tamils in the 1980s”.

Investigative journalism by Declassified UK’s chief reporter, Phil Miller, has documented how during the 1980s, the British mercenary group set up and trained a paramilitary police unit in Sri Lanka, that was accused of torturing hundreds of Tamils in the island’s civil war. KMS also stands accused of providing helicopter gunship pilots who flew on missions in which Tamil civilians were killed, sparking criticism from a United Nations watchdog.

The British Metropolitan Police has launched a war crimes investigation to see if war crimes were committed in Sri Lanka during this period. Miller notes that Britain’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka in 1986 estimated KMS was receiving two or three million pounds a year from the island’s government. However, the total sum paid to KMS remains a mystery.

The organization’s founder, Colonel Henry ‘Jim’ Johnson, who had formerly commanded a SAS regiment in the 1960s, has amassed a fortune due to his endeavours. Miller notes that his estate amassed a gross value of £4,719,115 and a net value of £3,979,444. The latter sum would be equivalent to £6m (or 2.3bn Rupees) today when adjusted for inflation.

Responding to this Ponnambalam stated:

“It’s especially important now during this economic crisis to have transparency over how much money was squandered on foreign mercenaries during the war against the Tamils.”

He further noted:

“It’s shocking to learn this British mercenary made such a phenomenal amount of money, given how heavily embroiled his company was in harrowing war crimes against Tamil civilians.”

During his investigation, the UK Foreign Office continued to censor files on KMS under the claim that such information could jeopardize national security and international relations. Declassified has launched an appeal against this which will be heard later this year.

In 2018 it was reported that the UK Foreign Office had destroyed almost 200 files on Sri Lanka dating from 1978-80 during which MI5 and the SAS secretly advised the country’s security forces, it has emerged.

Miller notes that Whitehall had initially withheld papers on Colonel Johnson under the claim of protecting his privacy, despite his passing.


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