"It is true that, somewhere in some community, we will find the apostles of terror - people who use the symbols of culture or faith to justify crimes of violence. They hate open, diverse, and democratic societies like ours because they want the exact opposite, a society that is closed, homogeneous, and dogmatic. But they and their vision will be rejected -- rejected by men and women of generosity and goodwill in all communities, and rejected most strongly by those men and women in the very community they claim to represent..."
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Address to the World Urban Forum
Vancouver, Canada; June 19, 2006
Terrorism in the Western Hemisphere was primarily perpetrated by Foreign Terrorist Organizations based in Colombia and by the remnants of radical leftist Andean groups. With the exception of the United States and Canada, where some prosecutions of suspected terrorists were underway, there were no known operational cells of Islamic terrorists in the hemisphere, although pockets of ideological supporters and facilitators in South America and the Caribbean lent financial, logistical, and moral support to terrorist groups in the Middle East.
The Secretary of State certified Venezuela as "not fully cooperating" with U.S. antiterrorism efforts. The designation, included in Section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act, was based on a review of Venezuela's overall efforts to fight terrorism. The certification became active October 1 and will remain in effect until the end of the fiscal year, when it may be renewed by a determination by the Secretary of State. Cuba remained a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
On October 25, the Argentine special prosecutors who investigated the July 18, 1994, terrorist bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) building that killed 85 and injured over 200 people, issued an 801-page indictment charging eight Iranian government officials and one member of Hizballah with the attack. On November 9, Judge Canicoba-Corral ratified the indictments and maintained charges against former Iranian Ambassador Soleimanpour. The judge issued arrest warrants, and on November 15, the Argentine government transmitted a request to INTERPOL for new Red Notices1 for the nine suspects. The year ended with action in INTERPOL pending.
The threat of a major terrorist attack remained low for most countries in the hemisphere. Overall, governments took modest steps to improve their counterterrorism (CT) capabilities and tighten border security, but corruption, weak government institutions, ineffective or lack of interagency cooperation, weak or non-existent legislation, and reluctance to allocate sufficient resources limited progress. Some countries, like Panama, Mexico, and El Salvador, made serious prevention and preparedness efforts. Others lacked urgency and resolve to address deficiencies in their counterterrorism posture. Caribbean and Central American nations, recognizing their attractiveness and vulnerability to attack or transit by terrorists, took steps to improve their border controls and to secure key infrastructure, especially air and maritime ports. Most countries began to look seriously at possible connections between transnational criminals and terrorist organizations.
The United States enjoyed solid cooperation on terror-related matters from most hemispheric partners, especially at the operational level. The United States maintained excellent intelligence, law enforcement, and legal assistance relations with most countries. The hemisphere boasts the OAS' Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, the only permanent regional multilateral organization focused exclusively on counterterrorism.
Mexico and Canada were key partners in the War on Terror and for U.S. homeland security. Cooperation with them was broad and deep, involving all levels of government and virtually all agencies, in several initiatives. Mexico represented primarily a terrorist transit threat, and the Mexican government worked with the United States to enhance aviation, border, maritime, and transportation security, to secure critical infrastructure, and to combat terrorism financing. In the first case of its kind in Canada, law enforcement officials in June arrested 18 individuals, all Canadian citizens or residents, who were allegedly planning terror attacks on Canadian soil. The group was arrested with bomb building materials and was attempting to buy an additional three tons of ammonium nitrate and detonators.
The United States remained fully committed to assisting the government and people of Colombia in their efforts to defeat Colombian-based Foreign Terrorist Organizations. President Alvaro Uribe continued vigorous law enforcement, intelligence, military, and economic measures against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and remaining elements of the former United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The Colombian government also increased its efforts with neighboring countries to thwart terrorist expansion, investigate terrorist activities inside and outside Colombia, seize assets, and bring terrorists to justice.
Colombia's neighbors had varied reactions to the threat from Colombian based terrorists. While none condemned the terrorists or outlawed membership in such groups in their countries, for the most part, they responded positively to Colombian requests to arrest specific fugitives. Brazil and Peru improved cross-border cooperation with Colombia (often based on local, rather than national, arrangements), but their security forces remained under formal or informal orders to avoid military confrontations with encroaching foreign terrorists. Forces in those countries pursued renascent domestic terrorist groups aggressively. It remained unclear to what extent the Government of Venezuela provided material support to Colombian terrorists. However, weapons and ammunition -- some from official Venezuelan stocks and facilities -- have turned up in the hands of Colombian terrorist organizations. The Venezuelan government did not systematically police the 1,400-mile Venezuelan-Colombian border to prevent the movement of groups of armed men or interdict arms flows to narcoterrorists.
Argentina hosted a meeting of the 3+1 Security Group (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and the United States) in December. Delegates highlighted the importance of early warnings among States and the immediate exchange of information in order to prevent and combat illegal activities, and to deny refuge to those who finance, plan or commit acts of terrorism. In November, Brazil inaugurated a new Regional Intelligence Center, in Foz do Iguacu, dedicated to coordinating intelligence activities of the police forces of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, and invited Argentina and Paraguay to send official representatives to the center.
OAS Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE). CICTE delivered more than $5 million in counterterrorism capacity-building assistance in the region. CICTE provided training to nearly 500 port and airport security officials from 29 member states to help meet the requirements of the International Maritime Organization's International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code, and the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) new air security standards. CICTE advised 15 member state governments on how to meet the requirements of UNSC Resolution 1373, the 13 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, and the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism (IACAT), which complements and expands on international conventions and protocols. CICTE also organized its sixth annual regular session in Bogot�, Colombia.
Tri-Border Area (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay)
The governments of the Tri-Border Area (TBA) have long been concerned with arms and drugs smuggling, document fraud, money laundering, and the manufacture and movement of contraband goods through this region. In the early 1990s, they established a mechanism to address these illicit activities. In 2002, at their invitation, the United States joined Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay in what became the "3+1 Group on Tri-Border Area Security" to improve the capabilities of the three TBA states to address cross-border crime and thwart money laundering and potential terrorist fundraising activities. The United States remained concerned that Hizballah and HAMAS were raising funds in the TBA by participating in illicit activities and soliciting donations from extremists within the sizable Muslim communities in the region and elsewhere in the territories of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, although there was no corroborated information that these or other Islamic extremist groups had an operational presence in the area.
Argentina cooperated well with the United States at the operational level, and began to address legal and institutional weaknesses that have hindered its counterterrorism efforts. The Argentine government amended its money laundering legislation to strengthen and reorganize its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and created a new national Coordination Unit in the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to oversee and manage the government's money laundering and terrorism finance efforts. The Attorney General's Office and the Central Bank both established special investigative units to handle money laundering and terrorism finance cases. In order to comply with a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) mandate, on December 20, President Kirchner approved a draft antiterrorism and counterterrorism finance law and sent it to Congress for review. If passed, the draft law would criminalize both terrorist acts and the financing of terrorism, and would provide the legal foundation for the FIU, Central Bank, and other law enforcement bodies to investigate and prosecute such crimes. The Argentine government and Central Bank have committed to freeze assets of terrorist groups identified by the United Nations if detected in Argentine financial institutions. Implementation will determine whether Argentine law enforcement institutions, including the Central Bank and FIU, aggressively apply the newly strengthened legal and administrative measures available to them.
Since President Bush's visit during the November 2005 Summit of the Americas, there were no reported incidents similar to the 20 small-scale bombings, attempted bombings, or acts of arson noted in Country Reports on Terrorism 2005. American businesses received e-mail threats and bomb threats, and were at times the focus of protests and demonstrations, but actual reporting and confirmation of these types of incidents declined.
Hizballah and Iran remained the chief suspects for the July 18,1994 terrorist bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) that killed 85 and injured over 200 people. On October 25, AMIA special prosecutors issued an 801-page indictment charging eight Iranian government officials and one member of Hizballah with the attack.2 On November 9, Judge Canicoba-Corral ratified the indictments and maintained charges against former Iranian Ambassador Soleimanpour. The judge issued arrest warrants and on November 15, the Argentine government transmitted a request to INTERPOL for new Red Notices for the nine suspects. The year ended with action in INTERPOL pending.
Bolivia's counterterrorism efforts were hindered by inadequate resources, corruption, and a weak legal framework. The Bolivian government's ineffective anti-money laundering regime failed to comply with international norms.
In April, the Bolivian government released Francisco "Pacho" Cortez, a member of the National Liberation Army (ELN), who was arrested in Bolivia after the statute of limitations on his case expired. Bolivian authorities arrested Aida Ochoa, a suspected member of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), in October 2005, but then released her in early 2006. After a four month delay, the Government of Bolivia issued an arrest warrant, as requested by the Peruvians, for Ochoa, who by that time was a fugitive. In a separate case in late May, Bolivia's Vice-Minister of the Interior directly intervened to arrange the release of Paraguayan Free Fatherland Party (PPL) member Angel Acosta, after he was arrested on an Interpol warrant for his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Cecilia Cubas, claiming the warrant was invalid.
Peruvian terrorist organizations appear to be extending their influence to Bolivia. The Bolivian district attorney prosecuting a gang leader allegedly responsible for the murders of three foreign tourists in Bolivia said the gang had received training from Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization from Peru. Additionally, a December press article highlighted a Peruvian intelligence report claiming that the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) was rebuilding its capabilities in Bolivia and was receiving aid from supporters in La Paz and Cochabamba.
The Government of Brazil vigorously condemned international terrorism, but did not provide the necessary political and material support to strengthen domestic counterterrorism institutions. A government commission proposed a new national interagency counterterrorism structure, but the government did not present legislation to implement it.
Brazil chose not to establish a terrorist-designation regime that would make support for and membership in terrorist organizations a crime. Moreover, the Government of Brazil considers Hizballah a legitimate political party. Brazilian law prohibits the extradition of native-born Brazilian citizens and imposes tight constraints on the extradition of naturalized citizens and foreigners, which complicates foreign governments' efforts to bring terrorist fugitives to justice. In August 2005, the Brazilian Federal Police arrested Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) "spokesman" Francisco Antonio Cadena Collazos under an international warrant. In August 2006, the Government of Brazil granted him political asylum and denied Colombia's extradition request.
Brazil continued to improve aspects of its counterterrorism capabilities, such as more effectively using its financial intelligence unit (COAF) to monitor and prevent possible funding for terrorist groups. With assistance and training from the United States, COAF upgraded its database and data collection mechanisms. The government also invested in border and law enforcement infrastructure with a view toward gradually controlling the flow of legal and illegal goods through the Tri-Border Area. The United States continued to work with Brazil in several bilateral, multilateral, and international fora, including CICTE and the 3+1 group.
The United States and Canada collaborated extensively on a broad array of initiatives, exercises, and joint operations that spanned virtually all agencies and every level of government. Canada added the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to its list of terrorist organizations, preemptively arrested 18 Canadian citizens in June for suspected terrorist activity, and sought to amend the country's terrorist financing act to strengthen its information sharing and reporting provisions.
In the first case of its kind in Canada, law enforcement officials in June arrested 18 individuals, all Canadian citizens or residents, who were planning terror attacks on Canadian soil. Individual members of the Toronto-based group (the Toronto 18) were under investigation since August 2005. Two group members had been previously arrested by Canadian authorities on charges of bringing weapons from the United States to Canada and were already in custody. Two other individuals traveled from the United States to Canada in March 2005 to meet with the group's leader, and were subsequently arrested in the United States where they were awaiting trial. The group was arrested with bomb building materials and was attempting to buy an additional three tons of ammonium nitrate and detonators. The group's targets reportedly included the Parliament Building and Peace Tower in Ottawa, and the CN Tower and Stock Exchange in Toronto. Reactions by Canadians were measured but sober, and sparked a national discussion on multiculturalism, immigration, and the necessary balance between protective security and respecting civil liberties.
The Toronto 18 were charged under Canada's Antiterrorism Act, which was enacted in December 2001 to provide law enforcement with new tools for the War on Terror. In October, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down one piece of the Act that required the specification of motive in proving terrorist offenses. Two other provisions that allow for preventive arrest and permit judges to compel testimony, are subject to mandatory Parliamentary review and renewal and were under consideration at year's end.
U.S.-Canadian counterterrorism cooperation rested on a number of established forums, including the terrorism sub-group of the Cross Border Crime Forum, the Shared Border Accord Coordinating Committee, and the Bilateral Consultative Group. In September, the latter brought together counterterrorism officials from over a dozen agencies on both sides of the border to coordinate policy on bioterrorism, information sharing, and joint counterterrorism training.
In Afghanistan, Canada stood firm in fighting the resurgent Taliban in Kandahar province, where it led Regional Command South and provided a battalion-sized battle group and a Provincial Reconstruction Team for stabilization and development efforts.
Canada also helped key countries address terrorism and terrorism financing with new training programs. For example, Canada provided 18 trainers to the Iraqi police training program in Amman and had four senior advisors attached to the U.S. Security Coordinator for the West Bank and Gaza. In other supportive efforts, its Counterterrorism Capacity Building Program became a fully operational mechanism for providing Canadian expertise to other countries in border security, transportation security, and antiterrorism legislation drafting.
The United States and Canada continued to work on mechanisms to accommodate Canadian concerns about information sharing in the wake of the Arar affair, in which a Canadian-Syrian citizen and terror suspect was removed from New York to Syria in 2002. A Canadian government commission said in September that there was no evidence of Arar's involvement in terrorism or any Canadian government participation in the U.S. decision to detain and remove Arar. This has made certain aspects of information sharing more challenging, although it was noteworthy that the commission also recommended that "the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) should maintain its policy of sharing information obtained in the course of national security with other agencies and police departments, both domestic and foreign...in accordance with clearly established policies." The commission also recognized that it did not have access to all the information on Arar available to the United States.
The Canadian government introduced legislation before Parliament to amend the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act to make Canada's anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regime consistent with new Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards. It would allow Canada to enter into Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with international and third country law enforcement organizations to strengthen information sharing and to create penalties to improve compliance with the act.
In May, the Canadian government announced $56 million in additional funding over the next two years for the Financial Transactions And Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the RCMP, and the Department of Justice, to increase their capability to combat terrorist financing and money laundering. Additionally, Toronto was selected as the permanent headquarters of the Egmont Group, a worldwide organization of financial intelligence units including FINTRAC. For the first time ever, Canada assumed the presidency of FATF, the international body that develops and promotes policies to combat terrorist financing and money laundering.
In April, the government announced that it was listing the Liberation Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist group, pursuant to the Criminal Code, making it illegal for any person to provide support, facilitate, or participate in the activities of the listed group, including providing financial support. The move brought the total number of listed entities in Canada to 40. The large Tamil community in Toronto has traditionally been a key source of funding for the LTTE. The RCMP assisted the FBI in an investigation that led to the arrest on August 19 of seven Canadians, three in New York and four in Canada, involved in trying to buy weapons for the LTTE.
Chilean law enforcement actively cooperated in international terrorism investigations and cooperated with the United States to monitor and combat terrorist financing. Law enforcement officials monitored possible extremist links between Chile's Iquique Free Trade Zone and the Tri-Border Area; trade links between these two areas are increasing. Chile's National Intelligence Agency remained an analytical body, relying on law enforcement and investigative agencies for collection and operations.
Chile hosted an Interpol working group meeting on terrorism in Central and South America in October to discuss the activities of individuals related to radical fundamentalist movements in the region. The meeting was attended by members of both the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence communities from Chile, the United States, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Argentina.
Thirty-eight members of Chile's law enforcement agencies participated in money-tracing and document-tracking techniques training, and several investigators and lawyers took part in a cyber-crime seminar. The United States worked closely with Chilean counterparts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Senior analysts from Chile's armed forces, academia, and non-governmental organizations participated in a counterterrorism seminar with an OAS counterterrorism expert. The seminar highlighted the role of illegal financing, corruption, and drug trafficking in enabling terrorists to carry out attacks.
Grupo de Operaciones Especializados (GOPE), a 300-person unit of the Carabinero police force, served as the nation's primary counterterrorist reaction force. The force is well-trained and participates each year in Exercise Fuerzas Comando, a SOCOM-sponsored special operations seminar designed to refine the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by Special Operations counterterrorism forces.
The Government of Colombia, facing a domestic terrorist threat, continued vigorous law enforcement, intelligence, military, and economic measures against three designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and remaining elements of the former United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Colombia increased its efforts with neighboring countries to thwart terrorist expansion, investigate terrorist activities inside and outside Colombia, seize assets, and bring terrorists to justice. The U.S.-Colombia extradition relationship remained the most successful in the world. The Colombian government cooperated fully with U.S. efforts to recover three U.S. citizens kidnapped by the FARC in February 2003, and remained open to third-party proposals for a hostage-prisoner exchange, but at year's end talks had not progressed.
Colombian based terrorist groups were weakened as a result of aggressive actions by the military and police, but these groups continued to murder, kidnap, and terrorize Colombians from all walks of life. The Uribe administration maintained its focus on defeating and demobilizing Colombia's terrorist groups through its "democratic security" policy. In the course of an increased tempo of offensive military, intelligence, and police operations, combined with efforts to demobilize combatants, the security services captured or killed numerous terrorists and mid-level commanders, debriefed terrorist group deserters for detailed information on their terrorist cells, and reduced the amount of territory where terrorists can freely operate. The government increased offensive operations against the FARC and ELN along the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian borders, and restarted anti-drug fumigation operations along the Ecuadorian border. Overall, aerial spraying in 2006 covered 425,000 acres of illegal drug crops (coca and opium poppies).
Colombia continued its close cooperation with the United States to block terrorists' assets, and financial institutions continued to close narcotrafficking and terrorism-related accounts on government order. In December, the Colombian Congress passed a law that, upon final presidential approval, will make terrorist financing an autonomous crime. Where financial institutions previously cooperated with authorities in specific cases of terrorist finance, the new law will require them to screen all new clients, and to file suspicious transaction reports (STRs) with the country's financial intelligence unit when they suspect terrorist finance activities.
Colombia emerged as a regional leader for improving counterterrorism capabilities and for strengthening political will to combat terrorism in the region, and intends to expand its leadership role in counterterrorism training in the region. Building on U.S. Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA), Colombia provided training to regional neighbors on anti-kidnapping, VIP protection, and cyber-investigation, and took over the Chair of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE). The government continued to seek enhanced regional CT cooperation to target terrorist safe havens in vulnerable border areas.
The threat of extradition to the United States is a strong weapon against the FARC, the ELN, and ex-AUC leaders. In 2006, Colombia extradited 102 criminals to the United States, the vast majority of whom were Colombian nationals. Trials for extradited FARC leader Ricardo Palmera "Simon Trinidad" and financier Omaira Rojas Cabrera "Sonia" on terrorism and drug related charges were scheduled when the year ended. The Uribe administration suspended two more extraditions of alleged AUC members, bringing the total to five, who were cooperating with the peace process, but the United States continued to seek their extraditions. However, the Colombian government denied a request from two other AUC leaders to suspend their extradition based on their demobilization; the extraditions are proceeding.
The FARC continued tactical-level terrorist and narcotrafficking activities, despite the ongoing military campaign against it, and launched several bombings against military targets in urban areas, including Bogot�. The FARC also targeted numerous rural outposts, infrastructure targets, and political adversaries in dozens of attacks, and continued kidnappings across Colombia. A sample of the FARC's daily criminal activity included:
-- In February, the FARC killed eight town councilmen in Rivera, Huila;
-- In April, Liliana Gaviria, sister of former-President Cesar Gaviria, was killed by the FARC;
-- In October, the FARC launched car bomb attacks in Bogot�, Villavicencio, and Fusagasuga,
-- In November, the FARC attacked rural National Police post in Tierradientro, killing 17 police officers;
-- In December, the FARC ambushed the military in Ocana, North Santander, killing 17 soldiers; and
-- In December, the FARC killed 15 soldiers near La Julia (Meta).
Three Irish Republican Army (IRA) members who were awaiting final sentencing for training the FARC on IRA bomb tactics fled Colombian parole and resurfaced in Ireland in August 2005. They were detained and questioned by the Irish national police and released without charge. The Colombian government requested their extradition. Ireland does not have an extradition treaty with Colombia; the case remained under review and the three fugitives at large.
The Government of Colombia and the ELN conducted several rounds of peace talks, but no agreements were reached. The ELN remained in the field, but with limited resources, a dwindling membership, and reduced offensive capability. The ELN and FARC clashed over territory in northeastern Colombia regularly, which further weakened the ELN.
AUC blocs continued to demobilize under the Justice and Peace Law, which offers judicial benefits and reduced prison sentences for qualifying demobilizing terrorists. The law requires all participants to confess fully their crimes as members of a terrorist group and to return all illicit profits. More than 32,000 AUC members have demobilized, and the government is attempting to reintegrate them into society through a newly created high commissioner for reintegration. At year's end, the Colombian Prosecutor's office began taking sworn confessions from ex-members of the AUC as part of the Justice and Peace process. Some AUC renegades continued to engage in criminal activities after demobilization, but the AUC as a formal organization largely ceased to function.
See Chapter 3, State Sponsors of Terrorism.
Ecuador's greatest counterterrorism and security challenge was the presence of Colombian Foreign Terrorist Organizations, frequently linked with narcotics trafficking organizations, along its northern border. Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) were widely present on the Colombian side of the border and regularly entered Ecuadorian territory (generally as unarmed civilians) for rest and resupply. Training camps for these groups were discovered on the Ecuadorian side of the border.
In response, the Government of Ecuador continued troop shifts to the northern border region, and publicly affirmed the need to maintain effective presence and control of the border. This position was taken in the Ministry of Defense White Paper and in the Foreign Ministry's forward-looking foreign policy White Paper, referred to as PLANEX 2006 -2020.
Greater troop presence and more frequent patrolling led to the discovery and dismantling of over 30 clandestine FARC camps in northern Ecuador. The Ecuadorian National Police continued efforts to strengthen border crossing security and worked with the military to deepen national security cooperation to combat illegal armed groups. Ecuador strengthened its dialogue with Colombia on sensitive cross-border issues and initiated bilateral development planning. Ecuador worked closely with the United States and other donors to promote lawful economic activity and development in the north. In May, the Ecuadorian Congress ratified the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism.
Ecuadorian police suspected several small Ecuadorian groups of domestic subversion and involvement in terrorism. Of greatest concern was the estimated 200-member Popular Combatants Group (GCP), a faction of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador. Its members are mainly students and are trained in the use of firearms and low-yield pamphlet bombs, which they deployed in major cities without casualties. Also of concern were the Political Military Organization (OPM) and Alfarista Liberation Army (ELA), which were reputed to have ties with and support from Colombian narcoterrorists.
El Salvador, the only Western Hemisphere country with troops serving alongside U.S. forces in Iraq, continued its support for the Coalition by dispatching an eighth contingent of troops to Iraq in December, and President Tony Saca publicly expressed his intention to deploy a ninth unit.
In September, the Legislative Assembly passed new counterterrorism legislation, which President Saca quickly signed into law. The law featured new sentencing requirements for certain terrorist-related crimes, but fell short of international recommendations on terrorist finance. Rather than distinguishing terrorism from regular crime by defining it as politically-motivated violence, the new legislation lists some 27 types of acts as terrorism3, punishable by a maximum sentence of 86 1/2 years in prison in the case of aggravating circumstances and, in a controversial provision, the law provides for 25-30 years in prison for armed occupation of public buildings (a tactic favored by some militant groups affiliated with the opposition FMLN party). The FMLN legislators, many of whom are former guerrilla insurgents, voted unanimously against the legislation, charging that its measures would restrain their right of free association. A group of different organizations is planning constitutional challenges and threatened to take the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights if necessary.
The Civilian National Police (PNC) is a professional force that is well-regarded by Salvadorans and international observers. The PNC coordinated its work with the Immigration Service, the Office of the Attorney General (FGR), and the National Intelligence Service (OIE). The new CA-4 agreement, implemented among El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, allowed for the inspection-free movement of citizens among these countries, and reduced overall inspection at land crossings. While important for improving overall integration and trade among the four member nations, the system has raised concerns that it could facilitate easier international movement of terrorists.
Guatemala continued to strengthen its anti-money laundering and terrorism finance regime since its 2004 removal from the Financial Action Task Force list of Non-Cooperative Countries. The Financial Intelligence Unit is an active partner of U.S. and multilateral efforts to track terrorism finance and reduce financial sector vulnerabilities. With U.S. assistance, Guatemala formed an interagency money laundering task force with representation from the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Guatemalan tax authority, and the Public Ministry (prosecutors office). There was no credible evidence of terrorism financing in Guatemala, and the Guatemalan government, along with private financial sector actors, actively cooperated in looking for such funds.
An organized crime bill passed by the Guatemalan Congress on July 19 provided the Guatemalan government with the tools to investigate criminal activities including those related to terrorism, but is not yet operational. The Guatemalan military's deployment of a western border task force at the beginning of the year continued the government's initial efforts to secure control of its borders with Mexico that began with the deployment of a northern border task force in September 2005.
Severe resource constraints of both technology and manpower, corruption, and an ineffective criminal justice system hindered efforts against transnational crime threats such as drug trafficking and alien smuggling, especially through remote areas of the country. Guatemala's northern and western borders with Mexico lacked effective coverage by police or military personnel, and controls at its southern and eastern borders with El Salvador have been relaxed as part of the Central American integration process. Nevertheless, Guatemalan civil aviation and port authorities provided strong cooperation to U.S. requests for assistance in investigating potential terrorism leads. Deployment of the military-led border task forces provided a new governmental presence in the previously lawless northwest and western border regions. The Guatemalan government worked to enhance overall maritime and aviation security and counterterrorism capabilities to remain in compliance with rising international standards.
Mexico demonstrated a strong commitment to work with the United States to preempt terrorist activity and entry through our shared border. There were no known international terrorists residing or operating in Mexico, and no terrorist incidents have occurred on or originated from its territory. Mexico represented primarily a terrorist transit threat, and our bilateral efforts focused squarely on minimizing that threat.
Counterterrorism cooperation steadily increased through the end of the Fox administration. President Calderon entered office on December 1, committed to prioritizing national security. U.S. law enforcement agencies enjoyed particularly strong relationships with the Center for National Security Investigations (CISEN), the Attorney General's Office (PGR), and the National Migration Institute (INM). Mexico worked with the United States to enhance aviation, border, maritime, and transportation security, secure critical infrastructure, and combat terrorism financing.
The Mexican government further professionalized federal law enforcement institutions, restructured and strengthened the institutions directly responsible for fighting organized crime, and developed tools under the framework of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) to better address national security threats.
The March 2005 launch of the SPP, which consists of ten security-related goals within its Security Pillar, institutionalized mechanisms for information exchange across agencies and levels of our respective governments. While a solid foundation has been built, we are working towards further cooperation and information sharing.
Mexico continued to make steady progress on border security projects focused on counterterrorism and alien smuggling. Mexico acknowledged and responded thoughtfully to U.S. reports concerning terrorist transit and the smuggling of aliens who may raise terrorism concerns. Cooperation between the United States and Mexico was especially positive in alien smuggling initiatives along Mexico's northern and southern borders. Initiatives included exchanges of information on and screening of individuals suspected of cooperation with terrorist organizations as well as smugglers whose activities presented terrorist concerns. This cooperation led to the deployment of the Operation Against Smugglers Initiative on Safety and Security (OASSIS) system, which allowed Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials to share real-time information regarding ongoing alien smuggling investigations in a systemized fashion. OASISS enhanced the ability to prosecute alien smugglers and human traffickers on both sides of the border and to avoid situations where smugglers responsible for life-threatening behavior (even deaths) on one side of the border could evade justice by escaping to the other side. The U.S. Government would like to see more cooperative efforts to identify smuggling organizations operating along Mexico's southern border that may raise terrorism concerns.
An ongoing issue of strategic concern was the continued exploitation of smuggling channels traversing the U.S.-Mexico border and the lack of enforcement along the southern Mexican border with Guatemala and Belize. The southern border, in particular, could be vulnerable to the movement of terrorists. In the wake of increasing narcotics-related border violence, bilateral cooperation on border security issues has increased.
The Mexican government coordinated with the United States on information sharing of air passenger data. The United States was also planning to support Mexico's plans to develop a national center for migratory alerts, which would coordinate information drawn from various other agencies to alert officials of possible suspect entries into Mexico.
Mexico and the United States began negotiations on programs designed to deter terrorists from using Mexico's seaports to ship illicit materials, detect nuclear or radioactive materials if shipped via sea cargo, and interdict harmful material before it could be used against the United States or U.S. allies. The cooperative effort will include installation of specialized equipment to screen cargo containers for nuclear or other radioactive materials.
Despite excellent U.S.-Mexico cooperation, money laundering remained a significant problem. The United States and the new Mexican government are discussing the dedication of greater resources to combating it. The underlying legal framework remained inadequate, and the establishment of a specific Mexican penal charge against money laundering connected to terrorism is needed. Both chambers of the Mexican legislature have passed legislation outlawing terrorist financing and associated money laundering; the two bills must still be consolidated in conference. The Mexican government notably deployed a task force to the Mexico City airport that included elements from the Agencia Federal de Investigacion (Federal Investigative Agency), Mexican Customs, and prosecuting attorneys from the PGR's anti-money laundering criminal prosecution section.
The Mexican Armed Forces continued to expand its counterterrorism capabilities. The Secretariat of the Navy improved maritime air surveillance by returning to service two of three E-2C Hawkeye command and control aircraft and acquiring more MI-17 helicopters. This capability related directly to efforts to secure key national strategic facilities, including those related to oil production in the Bay of Campeche. It remains difficult to accurately assess Mexican Army counterterrorism capabilities because the U.S. and Mexican Armed Forces had limited interoperability in counterterrorism.
The U.S.-Mexico Border Security and Public Safety Working Group, formed in March, has become another important tool for bilateral cooperation, establishing protocols between both governments to respond cooperatively at a local level to critical incidents and emergencies along the border. It remains in the pilot stage. The United States was able to further develop its border security relationship with the Government of Mexico through training programs, which focused on using non-intrusive inspection equipment, detecting weapons of mass destruction, and identifying fraudulent documents.
The most pressing counterterrorism issue for the United States concerning Nicaragua was the stalled destruction of Nicaragua's stocks of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). While the Nicaraguan executive branch under outgoing President Enrique Bolanos, as well as the armed forces, recognized the danger of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and cooperated with the United States, the opposition-controlled legislature refused to allow the MANPADS destruction program to move forward. The Nicaraguan legislature also failed to act on a comprehensive counterterrorism law that would create a national counterterrorism operations unit and address deficiencies in existing criminal and money laundering statutes. The latter, coupled with both the lack of a Financial Intelligence Unit, and a Prosecutor General who refused to prosecute money laundering cases brought to him by the existing cash-starved Commission on Financial Analysis, amounted to an ineffective anti-money laundering and terror financing regime. Nicaragua's court system was politicized and mired in corruption that reached right up to the Nicaraguan Supreme Court. Nicaragua's immigration system suffered from corrupt practices and could be exploited by terrorist groups.
The Panama Canal remains Panama's most important economic asset. Any act of terrorism that could close off the Canal would severely impact the economies of Panama, the United States, and other countries that rely heavily on the Canal for commerce. The government undertook a review of the structure of its Public Forces and conducted exercises to ensure its ability to protect the Canal and residents of Panama against a possible terrorist act.
Panama's highly developed commercial transport sector and shared border with Colombia makes it a transshipment point for arms, drugs, and smuggling of illegal aliens. Panama's Public Forces (PPF) closely monitored FARC activities in the Darien Province on the Colombian border. In January, the FARC kidnapped two Spanish citizens near the town of Jaque in the Darien. The group held and later released the two individuals. This incident indicated that the FARC continued to have a presence and activity in the Darien4. Panama created a dedicated border patrol force for both the Colombian and Costa Rican borders. The Border Protection Force was a separate service with its own command and headquarters under direction of the Panamanian National Police (PNP).
Panama provided enhanced force protection for U.S. military vessels, including submarines, during "high value transits" (HVT) of the Canal; U.S. officials praised Panama's level of support and security. The Ministry of Government and Justice (MOGJ) used classroom training, table-top exercises, and field visits to improve coordination among the PPF agencies. Panama was also the sponsor and host of the annual PANAMAX exercise, a multinational civil and military forces training exercise tailored to the defense of the Panama Canal. The exercise replicated real world threats to the Canal in order to develop appropriate responses and guarantee safe passage through the waterway. Fifteen nations, including the United States, participated.
The Ministry of Government and Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice worked together on joint counterterrorist initiatives, including the malafide traveler interdiction operation at Tocumen Airport, Operation Firewall. Panama worked closely with DHS to finalize the Declaration of Principles for Panama's Container Security Initiative.
On October 30-31, Panama hosted a multilateral conference for Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) members from the United States, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil to discuss strategies and preventative measures to protect critical infrastructure from potential terrorist activities. The conference included expert presentations on topics such as telecommunications, cyber security, and international port security. The October meetings were held in preparation for the upcoming CICTE General Assembly scheduled to take place in late February 2007.
Panama is an international offshore banking center. While the government has taken extensive measures to combat money laundering, the banking system and the Canal Free Zone continue to serve as vehicles for illicit finance. Panama's Foreign Ministry, Council for Public Security and National Defense, Financial Analysis Unit, and the Superintendent of Banks were fully cooperative in reviewing terrorism finance lists. The Panamanian legislature passed legislation that toughened laws on money laundering.
Although Paraguay was generally cooperative in counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts, its judicial system remained severely hampered by a lack of strong anti-money laundering and counterterrorism legislation. Such legislation is essential for Paraguay to meet its counterterrorism obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions and, equally important, acquire the tools it needs to effectively obstruct and prosecute money laundering and terrorist financing occurring in the Tri-Border Area, particularly Ciudad del Este.
Paraguay did not exercise effective immigration or customs controls at its borders. Efforts to address illicit activity occurring in the Tri-Border Area were uneven due to a lack of resources and, more principally, corruption within customs, the police, and the judicial sector. In October, a Legal Reform Commission introduced to Congress a Penal Code Reform bill that included provisions to update Paraguay's money laundering law. The Legal Reform Commission was also working on a Procedural Code Reform bill that would include provisions on money laundering and terrorism. Separately, Congress must pass another bill that would give Paraguay's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Secretariat for the Prevention of Money Laundering (SEPRELAD), the autonomy it would need to function effectively. Without this law, in June 2007 SEPRELAD could be suspended from the Egmont Group, the international group that facilitates information exchange among the Financial Intelligence Units of its 100 members. Despite expanded cooperation with other government entities and significant assistance from the United States over recent years, SEPRELAD has yet to demonstrate the ability to monitor and detect money laundering. Absent effective money laundering and terrorist financing legislation, it remained difficult for Paraguay to prosecute terrorist financiers or seize their assets.
Without effective counterterrorism legislation, Paraguay has successfully prosecuted suspected terrorist financiers under tax evasion or other statutes. The tax evasion case against Kassem Hijazi, a suspected Hizballah money launderer connected to 113 businesses and 46 individuals, remains ongoing. This case was set to go to trial pending Hijazi's latest appeal to the Supreme Court. Suspected terrorist fundraiser Hatim Ahmad Barakat was convicted of document fraud and was sentenced to six years in jail in June. Paraguayan authorities continued to seek the arrest of fugitive Hassan Ali Barakat (Ahmad Barakat's cousin), for conspiracy, piracy, and contempt of court.
Twelve of the 15 individuals charged with the 2004-5 kidnapping and murder of Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former President Raul Cubas, were convicted in November. Their sentences ranged from 10 to 35 years. Several of the defendants were tied to the leftist Free Fatherland Party (PPL) which, in turn, has allegedly received support from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other foreign governments. The PPL supports armed struggle as a means to overthrow the Paraguayan elected government. Several co-conspirators remained at large. Six escaped to Argentina, one of whom subsequently fled to Bolivia after the others were captured, and were awaiting the possibility of extradition. Two escaped to Bolivia and extradition was pending.5 An additional nine individuals remained at large and were under investigation.
The United States assisted Paraguay with training for judges, prosecutors, and police in investigating, preventing and prosecuting individuals involved in money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, and terrorism, including terrorism financing. Paraguay qualified for participation in the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Threshold Program and received a $35 million dollar grant to develop and strengthen institutions. Paraguay is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America Against Money Laundering (GAFISUD), which has been critical of Paraguay for its failure to adopt strong money laundering legislation. A delegation from the UN Security Council's Counterterrorism Committee visited Paraguay in June urging it to move expeditiously to adopt counterterrorism legislation that would meet its international obligations.
Peru's top counterterrorism concern was preventing the reemergence of the militant Maoist Sendero Luminoso (SL or Shining Path), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that convulsed the country in the 1980s and1990s at a cost of more than 69,000 lives. SL members continued to engage in narcotrafficking and killed eight civilians and five counternarcotics police officers. SL members also intimidated voters during the election year, but it suffered significant setbacks in 2006 when SL founder and leader Abimael Guzman was sentenced to life in prison, SL's number two military leader Hector Aponte Sinarahua "Clay" was killed, and a boat capsized in the Ene River drowning some 40 members.
Although previous Peruvian administrations nearly eliminated SL in the 1990s, the organization, now entwined with narcotics trafficking, reemerged and remained a threat. Now estimated to include hundreds of armed combatants, Sendero Luminoso conducted 92 terrorist acts in remote areas. While the new SL is shorter on revolutionary zeal than its predecessor, reports suggested it was attempting to rebuild support in the university system, where it exercised considerable influence in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the drug trade provided SL with a greater source of funding to conduct operations, to improve relations with local communities in remote areas, and to gain recruits. Lack of government presence in these areas and deterioration in Peruvian security capabilities complicated efforts to counter or disrupt SL activity.
Since SL remnants operated in coca growing regions and relied on narcotrafficking income, the Peruvian National Police (PNP) in these regions and U.S.-Peruvian counternarcotics operations were on alert for possible attacks based on SL threats. SL presence and activity near Aucayacu in Huanuco limited voluntary eradication and alternative development projects, as SL members reportedly owned and operated coca fields in this area.
SL killed five Peruvian Police officers and two employees of the government-regulated licit coca company (ENACO) in an ambush attack on December 16 in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) of Ayacucho. The ENACO staff, protected by the PNP officers, was tasked to confiscate illegal coca and cocaine precursor chemicals. The Armed Forces reported three soldiers wounded by SL. Two sustained injuries in May and July when their base came under SL fire, and the other soldier was wounded when his convoy was ambushed by SL guerillas.
In rural areas of the Huallaga Valley and the Apurimac and Ene River Valley, SL called for the boycott of April presidential elections and stepped up its recruitment before the elections. Five murders were linked to SL either as voter intimidation during the presidential elections or as revenge for the police operation resulting in the death of SL military leader Hector Aponte Sinarahua "Clay". In March, three people were tortured and mutilated for allegedly providing information to the PNP that led to the police operation against Clay. Their bodies were found with anti-election/pro-revolution notes attached. In March, three residents of Leoncio Prado, Huanuco were murdered; one body was found with a note stating that other informants would also be murdered. SL declared that the killings would continue until Clay's death was avenged. In August, SL murdered a fifth civilian from Tocache, San Martin for working as an informant in Clay's case. SL's propaganda and intimidation activities peaked around the first round of the presidential elections and were less pronounced for the subsequent runoff and regional/municipal elections.
From January through June, then-President Toledo undertook a counterterrorism campaign (the Huallaga Police Front) in response to the deadly attacks on police in 2005. This strategy remained in effect. Alan Garcia's government announced a new counterterrorism strategy in November. Under Garcia's strategy, 2,000 troops and 19 antiterrorism bases in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley operated under a central command. The plan also called for new health, education, and infrastructure investment in these isolated communities where the state lacked presence. The government also sought to improve interagency cooperation and strengthen prosecutors. Police units specializing in counterterrorism and counternarcotics conducted joint operations with the Peruvian Army. President Garcia proposed a law in November that called for the death penalty for those convicted of acts of terrorism, but Congress has yet to take action.
President Garcia and former President Toledo repeatedly reauthorized a 60-day state of emergency in parts of Peru's five departments where SL operates, suspended some civil liberties and gave the armed forces authority to maintain public order.
The Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) has not conducted a significant terrorist attack since the December 1996 hostage taking at the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima. However, there were indications that ex-MRTA members were trying to reconstitute an organizational structure. These MRTA activists were infiltrating far left civil society organizations. For example, the MRTA participated in a conference with left-wing fringe parties in Chile in an attempt to rejuvenate their organization. Police also found MRTA propaganda distributed during the election season.
Authorities arrested 155 suspected SL members and nine Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) members. On February 19, the PNP killed Clay, military leader and number two in the Huallaga branch of the SL. The PNP also arrested Mansueto Ausencio "Mansho" and Juan Chujutalli "Pablito", two top political-military operatives in November. Reportedly the result of a boat accident, almost 40 SL members, a third of the force in the region, drowned in the Ene River.
Government records indicated that 145 former SL members were released from jail in November after completing their sentences. Some of these members rejoined political movements but there was no evidence that they have engaged in violent acts.
The Government of Peru aggressively prosecuted terrorist suspects, led by special counterterrorism prosecutors. A special terrorism court was in the process of retrying the remaining SL and MRTA members whose convictions were overturned by Peru's Constitutional Tribunal in 2003. Following a trial that lasted over a year, Abimael Guzman was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on October 13 for acts of terrorism and for founding and leading SL. Elena Iparraguirre, his partner and co-conspirator, was also sentenced to life in prison. Oscar Ramirez Durand 'Feliciano', former leader of SL was sentenced to 24 years prison in June for acts of terrorism. Guzman and his accomplices will continue to face other judicial processes.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) used remote areas along the Colombian/Peruvian border for rest and to make arms purchases. According to the Peruvian police, the FARC has forced indigenous groups in remote jungle areas to cultivate coca crops. The outgoing Loreto Regional President made headlines in November when he claimed the FARC operated in the region and had begun to recruit locals to fight in Colombia. Peru, Colombia, and Brazil are party to a 2004 border security agreement to cooperate against terrorism and arms trafficking.
Suriname's lead agency for counterterrorism, the Central Information and Security Agency (CIVD); and the Ministry of Justice and Police (MOJP) have a police Anti-Terrorist Team (ATE) and a 28 person "capture team" for use in the interior. Suriname has not yet signed the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and does not have laws or regulations that would enable the authorities to freeze and seize funds and assets related to terrorist financing, but does have legislation to allow authorities to freeze assets of those suspected of money laundering.
Suriname began issuing CARICOM-compliant machine-readable passports in 2004, yet there are still numerous valid old passports in circulation, which can easily be tampered with in order to assume a false identity to travel across borders. An unknown number of blank old-style passports remained unaccounted for. The United States provided watch lists of known terrorists to Suriname police, but if any terrorists were present, the likelihood of apprehending them is low because of the lack of border and immigration control by police and officials, and because Suriname has no system for registering and monitoring visitors. According to police sources, the FARC conducted arms-for-drugs operations with criminal organizations in Suriname.
Trinidad and Tobago
In October, Trinidad and Tobago signed a U.S.-CARICOM Memorandum of Intent for the creation of an Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) in preparation for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, and the Parliament passed implementing legislation for the system. The Opposition United National Congress Party failed in its attempt to challenge the constitutionality of the 2005 Antiterrorism Act, and Imam Yasin Abu Bakr became the first person to be prosecuted under the Act. Law enforcement officials participated in U.S. Antiterrorism Assistance programs, and in December, the Trinidad and Tobago government hosted a seminar on "Tourism and Recreational Security", sponsored by the OAS' Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE).
In reviewing Venezuela's overall level of cooperation in U.S. efforts to fight terrorism, the Secretary of State certified Venezuela as "not fully cooperating" with U.S. antiterrorism efforts. In light of Venezuela's actions, the United States imposed an arms ban effective August 17. The Secretary's designation became a matter of law October 1, and will remain in effect until the end of the fiscal year, when it may be renewed by a determination by the Secretary of State6.
President Hugo Chavez persisted in public criticism of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, deepened Venezuelan relationships with Iran and Cuba, and was unwilling to prevent Venezuelan territory from being used as a safe haven by the FARC and ELN, effectively flouting UN Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1540, which form part of the legal basis of international counterterrorism efforts.
Chavez' ideological sympathy for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) limited Venezuelan cooperation with Colombia in combating terrorism. FARC and ELN units often crossed into Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup with relative impunity. Splinter groups of the FARC and another designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, the United Self- Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), operated in various parts of Venezuela and were involved in narcotrafficking.
It remained unclear to what extent the Venezuelan government provided material support to Colombian terrorists. However, limited amounts of weapons and ammunition -- some from official Venezuelan stocks and facilities -- have turned up in the hands of Colombian terrorist organizations. The Venezuelan government did not systematically police the 1,400-mile Venezuelan-Colombian border to prevent the movement of groups of armed terrorists or to interdict arms or the flow of narcotics.
An individual claiming to be a member of an Islamic extremist group in Venezuela placed two pipe bombs outside the American Embassy in Caracas on October 23. Venezuelan police safely disposed of the two pipe bombs and immediately made one arrest. The investigation by Venezuelan authorities resulted in the additional arrest of the alleged ideological leader of the group. At year's end, both suspects remained in jail and prosecutors were pressing terrorism charges against them.
Responding to a complaint filed by two deported ETA terrorists in the Interamerican Human Rights Commission in June, Venezuelan officials negotiated and signed an "amicable settlement" to facilitate the naturalization of Basques who came to Venezuela as political refugees in the 1980s as a result of a bilateral agreement between the governments of Spain and Venezuela. After media reports revealed that ETA terrorists would obtain substantial benefits from the settlement, Venezuela repudiated the terms of the agreement in December.
Venezuelan citizenship, identity, and travel documents remained easy to obtain, making Venezuela a potentially attractive way-station for terrorists. International authorities remained suspicious of the integrity of Venezuelan documents and their issuance process.