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Intelsat Takes On Terrorist Pirates

Intelsat, the largest fixed-satellite provider, is taking steps to stop the unauthorized use of one of its birds by a terrorist group.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam -- which the U.S. State Department lists as a foreign terrorist organization -- are pirates who have been using the Intelsat 12 satellite for illegal radio transmissions, the satellite company said in a prepared statement.

There have been various reports in the Asian press about the terrorist group’s recent use of the Intelsat satellite to transmit its official radio broadcast, Voice of Tigers.

Intelsat officials, including its technical experts, met Tuesday with Sri Lanka's ambassador to the United States, Bernard Goonetilleke, to discuss the steps Intelsat is taking to address the situation.

“Intelsat does not tolerate terrorists or others operating illegally on its satellites,” general counsel Phillip Spector said during the meeting. “Since we first learned of the LTTE's signal piracy, we have been actively pursuing a number of technical alternatives to halt the transmissions. We are clear in our resolve to ending this terrorist organization’s unauthorized use of our satellite."

The Sri Lanka Embassy and Intelsat agreed that the transmissions by the Sri Lanka-based LTTE are a violation of Sri Lankan and U.S. laws.

Following the discussion, according to Intelsat, Goonetilleke said, "I am satisfied that Intelsat is taking these unauthorized transmissions very seriously and believe it would do all that it can to stop the terrorist transmissions. I am confident that Intelsat will continue to cooperate with Sri Lankan authorities in this matter."