My name is Kagusthan (Stan) Ariaratnam, and I am the founder of Project O Five Ltd (https://projectofive.ca). I am writing this letter to request your support in funding my university education as a 50 years old mature student in intelligence, security, and terrorism studies with significant work and life experience in the relevant field.
I am originally from Sri Lanka and came to Canada in 1997 as a political refugee, and I became a Canadian citizen of Tamil nationality in 2009. I am married and have three children who were born in Canada. Sri Lanka has been politically and economically destabilized due to an ethnic conflict over three decades. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the “Tamil Tigers,” a secessionist-cum-terrorist organization, fought against the Sri Lankan government to establish a separate homeland for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. My family and I were directly affected by this conflict.
While attending high school in 1990, I was forcibly recruited by the LTTE under the demand that at least one family member contributes to the war. I was the first-born son, with an older sister and three younger brothers. Since I was the eldest boy, I had no choice but to join. Otherwise, my younger brothers would have faced hardships. Thus, I could not graduate from high school after being pressed into service as a child soldier. Therefore, I did not have the opportunity to complete my higher education due to my involvement in Sri Lanka’s civil war and later my family commitments in Canada as a political refugee due to financial and time constraints. Education now is, in part, a way to make sense of all these experiences of the Sri Lankan civil war and post-war peacebuilding.
In 1993, after completing a one-year intelligence training program, I was appointed as the naval intelligence officer of the LTTE and worked closely with the LTTE leadership. At the age of twenty, personal relationships outside the Tamil Tigers’ arbitrary “code of conduct” exposed me to the semi-forced opportunity to work for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Indian government’s foreign intelligence agency. (It is prohibited to have any personal, romantic relationship within the LTTE organization, and the punishment for this transgression was death). Eventually, I managed to defect to the Sri Lankan security forces in the summer of 1995. Once safely in Sri Lankan government-controlled territory, I began working earnestly with the intelligence services of the Sri Lankan military.
I possess unique knowledge of counterintelligence, counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism. I worked for two nation states’ security and intelligence agencies, including India’s foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) of Sri Lanka. Once I had been accepted as a conventional refugee in Canada, I added my knowledge about counterterrorism in this country because of the political controversy here about allegations that some immigrants and refugees who now live in Canada continue to support terrorism from abroad.
My background makes me an expert in something no one wants to become an expert in: What makes a man a terrorist, and what finally brings him back to his community? The average age of terrorists is 21 years, with many much younger, which explains why children are kidnapped and radicalized. They are fully grown in stature but not mature; they desperately want to make a ‘difference’ in the world but have no outlets; they are highly suggestible.
As the father of three young people, ages 21, 18 to 17, I see their challenges with finding a way to fit into the world. My primary goal now is to ensure that the international community achieves a “state of global terrorist deterrence” so their generation can enjoy a peace that has so far eluded mine.
After more than 25 years of experience as an intelligence operative, I studied at the University of Ottawa’s social sciences department for a while, majoring in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. As an intelligence and counterterrorism analyst, I aim to ensure that the international community achieves a “state of global terrorist deterrence,” which I consider the essential argument. As such, I decided to promote and pursue my hard-won expertise wherever possible. In pursuit of sharing my unique knowledge with like-minded groups and people, I have co-founded a social enterprise known as “Project O Five Ltd” (https://projectofive.ca). It is an Ottawa, Ontario-based independent and non-profit initiative formed in September 2015 to focus on various national, regional, and international subjects in scope. It consists of global security, counter-radicalization, counterterrorism research, open-source, strategic and tactical intelligence analysis, and threat briefs.
During my time with the Sri Lankan military, I studied international conflicts and political violence in detail and became familiar with and enthusiastic about diminishing it. My background, history, and experiences in Sri Lanka and Canada have inspired and motivated me to pursue a master’s degree specializing in intelligence studies. My background as a former child soldier and refugee has helped me develop critical thinking skills, understand the nuances and complexities of international conflicts and power relations at macro and micro levels, and, most importantly, helped me develop qualities of tenacity, perseverance, and the ability to cope under difficult circumstances. One case in point is demonstrating resilience during my inevitable mental illness, diagnosed in September 2001, caused by the trauma I underwent amidst the civil war in Sri Lanka.
One of my key goals and objectives in obtaining a university degree is the ability to share my experience and apply my knowledge of intelligence-led conflict resolution, community building, and peacebuilding on a national, regional, and global scale. To achieve this, I will synthesize and use my hard-won expertise as an intelligence analyst and practitioner and the higher education I would acquire from college. My long-term academic goal is to continue my studies to the doctorate level. Such an accomplishment will make me the first person in my family to obtain a degree. None of my family members ever had this opportunity because of the effect the war in Sri Lanka had on our lives.
In addition to volunteering my time as a security and intelligence analyst, I have been working as a security officer, air cargo screening officer, and senior investigator with many different private security and investigation firms, including Allied Universal Security, Paladin Security Group Ltd, Iron Horse Security and Investigations, GardaWorld Security Services, Synergy Protection Group Inc and Loss Prevention Services Ltd since September 2015. As such, I gained tremendous experience in the critical role intelligence plays in protecting our communities over the years. Against this backdrop, I have upskilled and updated my field knowledge to continue giving back to the global community.
Therefore, the funds I raise on this platform will pay for my tuition fees, books, residence, and travel. I have tried all other available avenues to get funding. However, I need help to borrow the total budget from any government, nongovernment, private financial institutions, or like-minded individuals. I am therefore grateful for having this chance to fundraise via GoFundMe. I would appreciate all your generosity in helping me fund my education.