A ‘Ransom Mafia’ that came into existence during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure in office ripped off rich business tycoons and other reputed persons. The mafia was peaking during the ethnic war and it made use of defence and security units to flourish. Some Tamil businessmen who feared losing their trade and being branded as ‘Tigers’ had no second thoughts about parting with in millions to appease the mafia. They offered millions to mafia members for the sake of their reputation. That was the only option they had as their complaints were ignored by the authorities.
But this mafia disappeared after the Rajapaksa regime was ousted. The mobs withdrew with the fear of being arrested because their victims hesitated no more to go to the new authorities bent on eradicating graft and corruption, with complaints against them.
Despite the decline of the ransom mafia, we now know that another has taken its place. It’s the despicable ‘Web Terrorists’ that’s operating from Colombo and London. The terrorists who are backed by a person who administers mudslinging websites now threatens business tycoons with exposure of their personal lives and business information unless they pay hundreds of millions of rupees by way of blackmail money or offer them luxury houses in Colombo.
A few weeks ago, the director of a recognized finance company dealing in mobile phones, computers, electronic items, and hospital accessories received a telephone call from London, telling him that the caller had shocking news about him that would destroy his business and life. The caller continued to crow about publishing them in his newspaper (recently started weekend paper) and how a ransom of rupees five million could buy his silence.
The manager of the company, after receiving the director’s news, didn’t panic. He refused to offer the money and said he feared no spam. The terrorists withdrew after a few more attempts made it clear that their would-be victim was not budging.
This is the first such incident. The second target of the Web Terrorists was a reputed telephone company. The company chair was asked for a ransom of ten million. An ongoing controversial murder case before Court was the weapon used to blackmail him. To prevent the terrorists from leaking the telephone conversations related to the murder, this boss was asked to offer either sixty million rupees or a luxury house in Colombo.
The chairman, who was aware of the brave refusal of the would-be victim of the first incident that was revealed in the Mawbima, also refused to release a single penny. But he received continuous messages telling him of the terrorists’ connections with some UNP ministers and how they could bring the issue of murder into parliamentary debates so that journalists attached to the terrorists’ websites could publish them.
The Web Terrorists’ second attempt also failed. The consequence was a slight change in their approach; they first mentioned the names of the tycoons in their paper and then warned them about further publications.
The first victim of the new approach was the head of recently popularized real estate company. The websites first attacked the company and its owner. Then a third party informed the owner about his desire to report about the company’s ‘real’ story and the need to collect information about it. This opened the gates for the mastermind of the Web Terrorists and two of his henchmen to get hold of a file that contained important information about this company.
They had then brought the file to an anonymous lawyer’s office situated near a well-known hospital in Colombo 7. This office is operated by a man who handles the Web Terrorists from London; his name is on the list of Interpol’s most wanted fugitives. He went through the file to trace a few defects and informed the company owner of the possible collapse of his company, should details about it be published. He said that however a sum of Rs 2.5 million could save him and his company from the impending disaster. The owner, out of his love for the company and his reputation, paid the ransom.
While bullying the company owner, the terrorist was engaged in another interesting episode. They have accompanied this person to a powerful minister living in the Colombo suburbs and requested him to order two State banks to offer bank loans to this businessman.
This London-based Web Terrorists had then targeted a reputed car sales enterprise in Kandy saying that they were offered 5 million by someone to publish forged documents related to vehicle deals. They demanded hush money of Rs 7.5 million from the car sale company. The owner who realized the ulterior motives of the terrorists had blasted the caller in filthy language and said that he fears no mudslinging as his business is legal.
These Web Terrorists, who devise sophisticated strategies to reach their goals, is now using the names of two reputed policemen who are said to support the Web Terrorists. The terrorists inform businessmen that they can save their business reputations by silencing these two policemen with a tidy amount of cash. The terrorists’ boss had recently paid an advance of Rs 6 million for a luxury house in Colombo.
In spite of several media channels and politicians who remain silent on this issue, Rajitha Senarathne, Ranjan Ramanayake, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Gayantha Karunathilake and Karu Paranawithana spoke out against these terrorists and attempted revealing the names of those who are behind it. It should also be said that there are some back-benchers who support these terrorists. At the end of the ongoing investigations, we are ready to reveal their identities to the country.