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Canadian faces maximum 15-year sentence in the U.S. for supporting terrorism

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A Canadian man who helped funnel military technology to a terrorist group in Sri Lanka should serve the maximum sentence of 15 years, U.S. prosecutors argue.

Suresh Sriskandarajah, also known as "Waterloo Suresh," pleaded guilty in July in Brooklyn, N.Y., to conspiring to provide material support to the Tamil Tigers.

The 32-year-old is due to be sentenced on Oct. 28 and written sentencing arguments filed before the hearing show that prosecutors want him to serve the maximum.

"Conspiring and attempting to procure sophisticated submarine and warship design software, night vision equipment and other electronic equipment for an international terrorist organization is a gravely serious offence," prosecutors argue.

"A significant term of incarceration will reflect the seriousness of the offence, promote respect for the law, and provide just punishment."

Sriskandarajah is arguing for time served. He was arrested in Ontario in 2006 and freed on bail in 2009 during extradition proceedings. He appealed his extradition all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada and only after he lost that bid in December 2012 was he sent to the U.S.

Sriskandarajah, who came to Canada from northern Sri Lanka as a boy, earned university degrees in Waterloo, Ont.

While in Canada, he helped research and acquire aviation equipment, submarine and warship design software, night vision equipment and communications technology for the Tamil Tigers.

Several of his co-conspirators have also been convicted of terrorism offences.

He graduated from the University of Waterloo with an electrical engineering degree a few months before he was arrested following a joint FBI-RCMP investigation. Sriskandarajah was the president of the Tamil Students' Association at the university.

Sriskandarajah used students to smuggle items in to Tamil Tiger-controlled territory in Sri Lanka between September 2004 and April 2006.

Last year an Ontario man was sentenced to time served for his role in the group. Ramanan Mylvaganam was a computer engineering student at the University of Waterloo and he pleaded guilty in the U.S. to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

The arrests followed a joint investigation by the FBI and the RCMP into an alleged plot to buy weapons, launder money through front charities and smuggle equipment to the rebel group.

The Tamil Tigers, notorious for suicide bombings and political assassinations in their fight for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka, were declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. in 1997 and by Canada in 2006.

Piratheepan Nadarajah, a man from Brampton, Ont., was extradited alongside Sriskandarajah and is charged with conspiring and attempting to acquire equipment such as heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles and missile launchers, as well as conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Tamil Tigers.

Prosecutors there allege Nadarajah and co-conspirators negotiated with an undercover FBI agent to buy and export $1 million of high-powered weapons and military equipment for the Tamil Tigers.

He pleaded not guilty upon his extradition. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 8.

— Written by Allison Jones in Toronto.

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