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Alleged U.S. leader of Tamil Tigers arrested

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A man alleged to be the senior U.S. leader of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers was charged Wednesday with providing material support for a foreign terrorist organization.

Karunakaran Kandasamy was arrested in Queens on Wednesday morning and is awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn said.

A complaint unsealed in District Court Wednesday morning alleges Kandasamy orchestrated the U.S. support of the Tamil Tigers' war against Sri Lanka and other countries. The United States has designated the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist group.

According to the complaint, Kandasamy was the leader of the Tamil Tigers' American branch, and in that role he was responsible for finding and channeling financial backing, logistical assistance and other material support.

Among other incidents, the complaint charges that Kandasamy organized fund-raising events at churches and public schools in Queens and New Jersey, with hundreds of people attending. The amount of money he raised has not been disclosed.

The arrest was the latest in a series involving alleged Tamil Tigers operatives in the United States. Eleven defendants have previously been indicted in connection to material support for the group, the district attorney's office said.

One of those indictments charges the defendants with attempting to procure military arms and technology, as well as attempted bribery of a U.S. official.

The Tamil Tigers -- formally the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam -- were founded in 1976 with the objective of achieving an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka. They are considered responsible for hundreds of suicide attacks and assassinations, including that of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

A temporary cease-fire between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government has been in place since 2002, but violence has escalated in the past 15 months, and more than 4,000 people have died since.

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Sri Lankan government soldiers patrol through the countryside near Kalkudah in northeastern Sri Lanka.



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