Sex for Secrets : RAW Agent Honey-trapped by CIA Before Rajiv Gandhi Assassination

Report by Shelley Kasli

CIA as a Dark Network

There are many institutions in America that Americans can be proud of. But, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is not one of them. Its deeds insult American decency and openness.

CIA Headquarters, George Bush Center for Intelligence, Langley, Fairfax County, Virginia, U.S.

In defining what is a ‘dark network’, Rene Bakker and colleagues provide the following description.

“Dark networks (as opposed to ‘bright’ networks) are covert and illegal. Although dark and bright are metaphors, and admittedly are normatively biased, we mean empirically that ‘a bright network is legal and visible and a dark network is illegal and tries to be as invisible as possible.’ Two dimensions thus stand out in differentiating dark networks from bright: visibility and legality. Visibility refers to how easily network activity is discerned without investigative effort. The second dimension, legality, refers to the laws of the state, not to whether a network’s goals are morally lamentable.”

Bakker, R.M., Raab, J and Brinton Milward H: A preliminary theory of dark network resilience. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2011

Ronald Kessler in his book Inside the CIA, Pocket Books, New York, 1992 explains CIA’s operational policy viz-a-ziz espionage.

Inside the CIA Ronald Kessler Espionage Policies

“By agency policy, CIA operations officers may commit espionage in any country of the worldThe only exceptions are Great Britain, Australia and Canada. By CIA thinking, no country is completely friendly.” (p.10)

“CIA has stations in 130 countries. They range in size from one-person stations in some African countries to sixty-person posts – including support employees – in such cities as Tokyo and Rome. About 15 percent of the CIA’s employees are stationed overseas.” (p.32).

“Through liaison, the CIA obtains information on people of interest to the agency. In exchange, the CIA usually gives the host country information it wants – perhaps the location of a fugitive.” (p.32)

CIA Fingerprints in SriLanka

Following are key events since 1950 that have a characteristic CIA fingerprints inferred from joining the dots with events that happened before and after this ‘attributed fingerprint’ in Sri Lanka or in other equally placed countries.

Sri Lankan Civil War Timeline

1962 Jan. 27: the coup d’etat against Sirimavo Bandaranaike government.

1964 Dec. 3: the defection of 14 MPs led by C.P. de Silva from government ranks to the Opposition.

1982: Establishment of International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Colombo and Kandy, under the guidance of Neelan Tiruchelvam and K.M. de Silva with the Ford Foundation sponsorship.

1987: honey-trap operation of K.V. Unnikrishnan of RAW who was in charge of Eelam Tamil militancy in Madras.

2003 – 2007 Sept.18: Trailing Karuna during his tours as LTTE member of peace talks with GOSL, and subsequently trapping him in London (when he traveled under a false diplomatic Sri Lankan passport) in connivance with British Anti Terrorism Liaison Unit.

Two particular events indicate that CIA was involved in the Sri Lankan Civil War as was Mossad that through it’s dubious activities trained both the Tamilians and Lankans and profited heavily from it’s enormous illegal arms supply to both the sides eventually destabilizing the region that not only put the two countries on a collision course but also lead to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and later Sri Lanka’s Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993.

To know more on this read Mossad Stooge & The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

First Incident : 

The high-octane eulogy delivered by then President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, on the death of Neelan Tiruchelvam in 1999, assassinated by LTTE for being an informer.

Neelan Tiruchelvam was assassinated by LTTE for being a CIA informer

Neelan Tiruchelvam assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber in July 1999 for being an informer

Many Eelam Tamils believe that even the 2004 split in LTTE was induced and facilitated by CIA’s local conduits such as Milinda Moragoda, by having Col. Karuna trapped with trickery.

US Embassy cables released by wikileaks show Moragoda to be a long time information source of the US Embassy in Colombo. The cables also state the US Government’s interest in Moragoda as their key partner in Sri Lanka. Writing to Washington in 2003, then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Ashley Wills says of Moragoda:

[Regarding] ‘the U.S., the intelligent, articulate Moragoda is a perfect fit. Born in Washington, D.C, he is a dual national Amcit (please protect) married to an American, with plenty of Washington connections, many from his days as a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and at Harvard. A ‘big picture’ person, Moragoda is also highly aware that the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world, and he feels that it is better that Sri Lanka recognize that fact and work within it.’ ”

As per WikiLeaks cable 03COLOMBO909 Subject : Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy: Prime Minister Tilts Toward U.s., But Faces Resistance

The LTTE’s Eastern Province military wing leader Karuna who participated in the second round of talks in Thailand for the first time, greets Economic Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda

The LTTE’s Eastern Province military wing leader Karuna who participated in the second round of talks in Thailand for the first time, greets Economic Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda

During the 2004 General Election, Moragoda (then with the United National Party) claimed that they split the LTTE. If you fill in the dots now, with the cables sent by the then US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ashley Wills (released by Wikileaks), the hanky-panky job of CIA’s local conduits becomes crystal clear.

Second Incident : Sex for Secrets

The honey-trapping incidence of RAW’s agent K.V. Unnikrishnan in 1980s.

In early 1980s, K.V. Unnikrishnan, a 1962 batch IPS officer, who was posted at R&AW station in Colombo was honeytrapped by CIA. Between 1985–87 when he was deputed as the station chief at Chennai, co-ordinating Sri Lanka operations, he gave away information to his handler on training and arming Tamil groups including LTTE and the Indian government’s negotiating positions on the peace accord with Sri Lanka. He was caught by IB counter-intelligence in 1987, spent a year in Tihar jail and was dismissed from IPS cadre.

Prakash Belawadi plays RAW Agent Unnikrishnan in the movie Madras Cafe. Unnikrishnan confessed to high treason; in the movie, he shoots himself

Prakash Belawadi plays RAW Agent Unnikrishnan in the movie Madras Cafe. Unnikrishnan confessed to high treason; in the movie, he shoots himself

Unnikrishnan’s betrayal was well before Rajiv Gandhi assassination in 1991. He was led into a honey trap when he was posted in Colombo in the early 1980s. But his handlers, in typical intelligence operations protocol, waited until he was important for them. They then revived contact when he was put in charge of LTTE operations in Chennai in 1985-86.

The bare essentials of this honey-pot episode was provided in 1987 by Salamat Ali which brought to the limelight how American operatives trapped Unnikrishnan to suck ‘intelligence’ on Eelam Tamil militant groups and passed what they felt relevant to their Colombo clients.

Below we produce the 1987 article Sex for Secrets : An Indian Official is Caught in the Leaking Act by Salamat Alifor Far Eastern Economic Review, Oct. 15, 1987.

Sex for Secrets by Salamat Ali RAW Agent Unnikrishnan 1987

Sex for Secrets

An Indian Official is Caught in the Leaking Act

by Salamat Ali in New Delhi

For the second time in three years, the Indian intelligence community has been rocked by a spy scandal. A senior official in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) – the country’s external intelligence agency – has confessed that he passed on sensitive security information to a foreign power.

Although the foreign power has not been officially identified, 47 year-old K.V.Unnikrishnan, a deputy inspector-general of police on secondment to RAW, had allegedly leaked secrets of India’s dealings with Sri Lankan Tamil insurgents to a US agent.

Unnikrishnan’s activities were revealed shortly before New Delhi and Colombo signed a peace accord on 29 July to end the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka. Since then the RAW leadership has been engaged in changing its secret codes and communications procedures, in addition to reviewing all other aspects of its work which have been compromised.

Before his arrest, Unnikrishnan headed the RAW’s operation in Madras and was directly in charge of Indian dealings with Sri Lankan Tamil militants based in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Although he was not part of the decision-making apparatus, as field coordinator of Tamil militants he was privy to most of the details of the secret negotiations involving New Delhi, Colombo and the militant Tamil groups.

Authorities began to suspect a major leak in the RAW set-up when Indian negotiators were repeatedly disconcerted during their talks with Sri Lankan officials, who seemed to know in advance details of New Delhi’s discussions with the Madras-based Tamil rebels. New Delhi was also surprised that Colombo had detailed knowledge of clandestine arms shipments received by the insurgents and all the weapons India had confiscated from the Tamil guerrillas.

In mid-1985, when India brought Colombo and the militants together for peace talks in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu, it discovered that the militants’ negotiating strategy and the Indian view of it had been leaked to Sri Lanka. Last year, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed P. Chidambaram, a junior minister, as his special representative for talks with Colombo. Shuttling from New Delhi to Madras and Colombo, Chidambaram began a series of talks. What had transpired between him and the militants in Madras was usually known to the Sri Lankans by the time Chidambaram reached Colombo.

One pointer to the likely source of the leaks was the Tamil militants’ complaint that Unnikrishnan was playing a divisive role by carrying tales between their various Madras-based groups, wondering loudly if he was truly acting on New Delhi’s policies as they understood them.

Unnerved by the leaks and unsure of their source, the RAW leadership mounted a massive counter-intelligence operation. It placed almost the entire senior strata of the Tamil Nadu police force and other related Madras-based officials, including Unnikrishnan, under surveillance. For months, these officials’ offices and homes were bugged, their telephones were tapped and their movements monitored.

The documents, photographs and other material gathered in the counter-espionage operation narrowed the search to Unnikrishnan by mid-year. Ironically, by then his name had been recommended to the Prime Minister’s Office for promotion. Earlier, he had turned down an option to join the regular cadre of the RAW, preferring to remain in his parent police service while on deputation to the intelligence outfit. By the mid-1980s, he was the RAW’s top field officer in Madras coordinating Sri Lankan affairs.

Confronted with the incriminating evidence, Unnikrishnan is said to have confessed his spying activities. During a tenure in Colombo as the RAW’s representative six years ago, he had become friendly with an unnamed US consular official and, together with him, engaged in several extra-marital affairs with unidentified women. Despite these sexual escapades, he was apparently a hen-pecked husband and his alleged American contact knew that Unnikrishnan was mortally afraid of his wife.


After his return to India, he was briefly stationed in New Delhi before moving to Madras. Sometime in 1985, a woman describing herself as a stewardess with Pan American Airways telephoned him from Bombay to say that his American consular friend had told her to contact him if she felt lonely. Unnikrishnan flew from Madras to Bombay and a liaison developed between the two. During 1985-86, she gave him complimentary air tickets to fly to Singapore. During those jaunts in Singapore, compromising photographs of the stewardess and her lover were taken.

Sometime early last year, an American official based in New Delhi flew to Madras and confronted Unnikrishnan with the photographs. The RAW man was trapped and is known to have agreed to cooperate with the American, who later made Madras his own base of operations.

According to the authoritative fortnightly magazine India Today, the American quietly slipped out of India when Unnikrishnan failed to show up for two pre-arranged meetings – after he was arrested in Madras some time in the middle of the year. Although official sources have asserted that Unnikrishnan’s controller was an American diplomat, it is not clear to which US agency he belonged. The implication of the revelations so far is that the Americans were passing on Unnikrishnan’s information to Colombo for about 18 months preceding his arrest.

As a civil servant, Unnikrishnan could not be sacked or demoted without an open legal hearing. But New Delhi invoked Article 311 of the Indian Constitution to dispense with the legal requirements on the grounds that national security was involved. An open trial would have brought to light more than India is prepared to admit in respect to the insurgency in Sri Lanka. As in the cases of other spies, his trial would be in camera, possibly at the high-security Tihar Jail in the capital. And no details of the trial proceedings are likely to be made public except the sentence passed.

In his book Assignment Colombo, J N Dixit writes the following about Unnikrishnan

( Jyotindra Nath Dixit (January 8, 1936 – January 3, 2005) was an Indian diplomat, who as served as Foreign Secretary (1991–1994), the top bureaucrat in the Ministry of External Affairs. At the time of his death he was the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and is most remembered for his role as a negotiator in disputes with Pakistan and China. )

Assignment Colombo J N Dixit RAW Agent Unnikrishnan HoneyTrap by CIA

“In some of my discussions with Lalith Athulathmudali in the first half of 1986, I felt that he was extraordinarily well informed about the personalities in our intelligence agencies and in the Ministry of External Affairs at headquarters who were dealing with Sri Lankan affairs. I reported these perceptions to Delhi. The general comment which I was conveyed was that the Sri Lankan mission in Delhi and the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Madras seemed to be very effective in gathering information and operational intelligence. In the event, my being impressed by the efficiency of the Sri Lankan diplomatic missions was misplaced. The Sri Lankan source of information was a senior operative of our own intelligence agency, Unnikrishnan, who had been subverted most probably by the Americans through a foreign lady working for Pan-American Airlines. His negative activities were discovered sometime towards the middle of 1986, which was followed by appropriate procedural action against him. The fact that the Sri Lankan Government’s advance knowledge about Indian policies and intentions clearly diminished after Unnikrishnan was neutralized proved that he was a major source of information to the Sri Lankans.

J.N. Dixit: Assignment Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Bookshop, Colombo, 1998, p. 61.

Narayan Swamy in his book Tigers of Lanka : From Boys to Guerrillas (1996; 2nd ed.) writes the following on the consequences of Unnikrishnan getting honey-trapped and vital information compromised :

Tigers of Lanka From Boys to Guerrillas by M R Narayan Swamy

“…The officer who headed the RAW in Tamil Nadu then was K.V.Unnikrishnan, who was arrested in 1987 and jailed on charges of being a CIA agent. [Foot note by author: According to India Today, Sept.30, 1987, Unnikrishnan was a deputy inspector general in charge of the RAW mission in Madras. He was allegedly blackmailed by the CIA into betraying official secrets after being photographed in compromising positions with a Pan American stewardess. Sri Lankan Tamils say Unnikrishnan personally discussed sensitive matters with leaders of all militant groups as well as TULF.] Was it a mere coincidence that the TELO was destroyed when the RAW’s Sri Lanka operations were controlled by an alleged CIA agent? Was it just a matter of chance that the pro-India EPRLF also met a similar fate at the hands of the LTTE during this period? EPRLF sources say their former leader, Pathmanabha, also begged RAW to force the LTTE to stop its attacks. Those appeals also evoked no response.

As such the Tamils were confused by Indian policies and actions. While the militants were trained and armed to fight, the TULF was prodded to talk peace to Colombo. When the militant groups looked askance, they were told that the talks were a fake; when the TULF brass made queries, they were informed that peace was the ultimate goal and the militants were only being used to force Jayewardene to make concessions on the negotiating table. The TULF’s Amirthalingam played along, in the process angering his own supporters. Eventually he too felt let down by New Delhi and decided to befriend the Tigers. And the LTTE just gunned him down…” [ch.11, pp.328-329]

In 1991 Victor Ostrovsky, author of By Way of Deception, told Indian Abroad news service that Mossad brought many Tamils to Israel for training in 1984 and 1985. “These groups kept coming and going. When I was in Mossad, it was part of our routine job to take them to training camps and make sure they got training worth what they paid for, no more and no less. The Singhalese paid in cash.”

Ostrovsky said the arrangement for training was made by the Mossad liaison in India, who lived there under a British passport.

Mossad Sri Lanka LTTE GreatGameIndia

To know more on this read Mossad Stooge & The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

Using seduction to extract valuable information is as old as the Old Testament —literally— Delilah used deception and seduction to find out the secret of Samson’s strength. His hair was never to be cut. So off she went to tell the Philistines – and his precious braids were shaved as he slept.

Delilah cutting Samson's Hair by Guercino 1654, oil on canvas

Delilah cutting Samson’s Hair by Guercino 1654, oil on canvas

The lure of sex has been the stuff of both spy fiction and real-life scandals ever since.

Even MI5 is worried about sex. In a 14-page document distributed in 2010 to hundreds of British banks, businesses, and financial institutions, titled “The Threat from Chinese Espionage,” the famed British security service described a wide-ranging Chinese effort to blackmail Western business people over sexual relationships. The document, as the London Times reported in January, explicitly warns that Chinese intelligence services are trying to cultivate “long-term relationships” and have been known to “exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships … to pressurise individuals to co-operate with them.”

As for our Babus

In 2010 after getting specific instances where government officers at different levels had been in touch with such foreigners for “personal favours”, including being nominated for courses abroad, the Union home secretary R K Singh wrote to all the secretaries asking them to sensitize officers down to under secretary level about the existing rules that strictly prohibit such liaisons.

The Centre has asked its senior officers not to mingle with foreigners working with different embassies or high commissioners as some of them could be spies looking to cultivate ‘sources’ within the government or push their agenda.

Singh in his note to secretaries said: “Specific instances have come to the notice of this ministry where officers have been in touch withinteracting with foreign service nationals (FSNs) and embassy officersstaffers of other countries in contravention of the laid down rules and circulars”.

Such circulars are regularly put out by the government, which has been bitten by many officials falling into intelligence booby traps.

The 1970 rules of the ministry approves meeting of government officers with such foreigners only during official meeting outside or within the ministry and that too for strictly “official purpose”.

Babus told to stay away from foreign govt staffers

In the light of these incidents the question is, how safe/competent are our security officers, politicians, bureaucrats etc against such traps ?

What about those undetected clean operations that remained in the shadowy world and the implications of the information that was compromised ?

Abhishek Manu Singhvi Sex Scandal

Abhishek Manu Singhvi Sex Scandal

Recently many incidents have occured that has a definite fingerprints of an Intelligence Operation. The case in point is the recent murder of Sunanda Pushkar (who fell a victim to the Diamond Mafia. Read the article Sunanda Pushkar : Another Victim of Diamond Mafia’s National Circus – IPL for more)

Sunanda Pushkar, Sashi Tharoor and P Chidambaram

Sunanda Pushkar, Sashi Tharoor and P Chidambaram

and the now infamous Modi’s Snoopgate.

Snoopgate : Mansi Soni meets Narendra Modi facilitated byIAS Officer Pradeep Sharma

Snoopgate : Mansi Soni meets Narendra Modi facilitated byIAS Officer Pradeep Sharma

Should such cases be investigated from an Intelligence perspective; and not just mere corruption, murder or snooping ?

The information that may have been compromised if any, could be a serious National Security issue.



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