Chapter 2. Country Reports: Western Hemisphere Overview
Bureau of Counterterrorism
In 2013, governments in Latin America made modest improvements to their counterterrorism capabilities and their border security. Corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or non-existent legislation, and a lack of resources remained the primary causes for the lack of significant progress in some of the countries. Transnational criminal organizations continued to pose a more significant threat to the region than transnational terrorism, and most countries made efforts to investigate possible connections with terrorist organizations.
Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere remained a concern. However, due to strong sanctions imposed on the country by both the United States and the EU, Iran has been unable to expand its economic and political ties in Latin America.
The United States continued to work with partner nations to build capacity to detect and address any potential terrorist threat.
There were no known operational cells of either al-Qa’ida or Hizballah in the hemisphere, although ideological sympathizers in South America and the Caribbean continued to provide financial and ideological support to those and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia. The Tri-Border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay continued to be an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, and human trafficking; counterfeiting; pirated goods; and money laundering – all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations.
Despite the peace negotiations throughout the year, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia committed the majority of terrorist attacks in the Western Hemisphere in 2013.
Overview: Argentina maintained substantial capabilities for confronting terrorism at the federal level, but continued to face challenges in policing its remote northern and northeastern borders – including the Tri-Border Area, where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet – against transnational crimes such as illicit drug and human trafficking, contraband smuggling, and illicit trade-based money laundering. Limited U.S. law enforcement and security cooperation with Argentina focused on information sharing.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: On September 19, a small improvised explosive device detonated in front of the headquarters of the Mutual Help Association of the Argentine National Gendarmerie, lightly wounding two gendarmes. Several groups inconclusively claimed responsibility.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Argentina’s Antiterrorism Law of 2007, modified in 2011, serves as a supplement to the criminal code for the prosecution of terrorism cases. Multiple security agencies maintained specialized law enforcement units that have substantial capabilities to respond to terrorist incidents. The Argentine government enacted a program to strengthen coordination between federal and provincial security institutions in August. By the end of 2013, 15 of 23 provinces signed on to the initiative.
The Government of Argentina continued to implement an identification security system (similar to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) that uses a fingerprint database created via a national identity card implemented in 2009. This AFIS-type system was deployed at all Argentine international airports, along with a program that requires taking photos and fingerprints of all travelers upon arrival and departure. The Ministry of Interior continued to issue e-passports that include a new passport book numbering system that facilitates the reporting of lost and stolen passports to Interpol.
The Argentine government took steps that it maintained would help determine culpability for the July 18, 1994 terrorist bombing of the Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and injured more than 150 people. The foreign ministers of Argentina and Iran met three times in 2013 for dialogues designed to clarify Iran’s alleged role in the bombing, for which several former Iranian cabinet-level officials have outstanding Interpol Red Notices. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner pressed the Iranian government at the September UN General Assembly to be forthcoming in implementing a “truth commission,” agreed by the two governments in January. Fernandez also requested that the United States raise the AMIA bombing in its own negotiations with Iran. The Argentine-Jewish community and other opinion leaders publicly opposed the Argentina-Iran dialogue, and criticized the government for failing to share information about the talks.
In July, an Argentine court denied the extradition to Peru of Peruvian national Rolando Echarri Pareja, a member of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights – an organization with links to the Shining Path. Echarri was detained by Argentine security forces in December 2012.
On December 16, the Argentine Federal Police arrested alleged Shining Path member Oswaldo Ceferino Quispe Caso, who is the subject of an Interpol Red Notice, seeking his arrest for the murder of multiple police officers in Peru.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Argentina is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America (GAFISUD), a FATF-style regional body. Argentina has been on FATF’s “grey list” since 2011; however, in October 2013, FATF noted that Argentina had taken steps towards improving its anti-money laundering/ counterterroring terrorist finance (AML/CFT) regime. The 2011 revision of the Antiterrorism Law broadened the definition of terrorism and increased monetary fines and prison sentences for crimes linked to terrorist financing. It closed several loopholes in previous legislation, empowered the Argentine Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) to freeze assets, and criminalized the financing of terrorist organizations, individuals, and acts. At year’s end, this law had been applied almost exclusively to human rights cases dating back to Argentina’s military dictatorship more than 30 years ago. However, in 2013, the UIF administratively froze funds of an individual who was already being prosecuted when they were notified of his association with an international terrorist organization.
While exchange houses are licensed by the Central Bank and subject to some AML/CFT requirements, Argentina has an extensive network of informal exchange houses and individuals that operate outside of government supervision.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Argentina participated in the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), and the Southern Common Market Special Forum on Terrorism. Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay coordinated law enforcement efforts in the Tri-Border Area via their Trilateral Tri-Border Area Command.
Overview: The Brazilian government continued to support counterterrorism activities, including investigating potential terrorist financing, document forgery networks, and other illicit activity. Operationally, Brazilian security forces worked with U.S. officials to pursue investigative leads provided by U.S. and other intelligence services, law enforcement, and financial agencies regarding terrorist suspects. Brazil has a sophisticated and competent financial intelligence unit, the Council for Financial Activities Control.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Brazil has four pieces of terrorism legislation pending in Congress: one would deny visas to persons and/or expel foreigners convicted or accused of a terrorist act in another country (introduced in 2011); another defines terrorism in the Brazilian Constitution (introduced in 2013); a third updates the Brazilian penal code to include sentencing guidelines for terrorism crimes (introduced in 2012); and the fourth defines specific crimes, including terrorism, during and preceding the World Cup (introduced in 2011).
Brazil’s law enforcement capacity, as it pertains to proactive detection, deterrence, and prevention of terrorism within its borders, appears adequate but is limited as law enforcement priorities are almost singularly focused on counternarcotic activities. Interagency cooperation and coordination need improvement, particularly regarding information sharing. While problems exist at the State level between enforcement agencies and their investigative counterparts, these are much more pronounced between Federal and State level law enforcement agencies. Coordination between civilian security and law enforcement agencies and the Brazilian military is hindered by inter-service rivalries.
Brazil has three law enforcement agencies with counterterrorism responsibilities, ranging from the investigation of terrorism to interdiction and response. They are the Brazilian Federal Police (DPF), through its Antiterrorism Division (DAT) and Tactical Operations Command (COT); the state-level Military Police Departments, through their respective Police Special Operations Battalions (BOPE); and the state-level Civil Police Departments through their respective Divisions of Special Operations (DOE).
All three of Brazil’s law enforcement agencies with counterterrorism responsibilities have benefitted from U.S. capacity building training. The U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program delivered courses to security and law enforcement personnel covering topics such as tactical command, vital infrastructure security, crisis incident management, digital network security, and bus and rail security – all with the goal of enhancing investigative capabilities, building border security capabilities, and supporting the Government of Brazil’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks at the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Training courses had the added benefit of bringing together disparate agencies, which enhanced the Brazilian interagency communication effort. Likewise, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation offered courses to the aforementioned units ranging from interview and interrogation techniques, terrorist financing and money laundering investigations, and Hostage Rescue Team tactical subject matter expert exchanges.
Brazilian authorities continued to work with other concerned nations – particularly the United States – in combating document fraud. Since 2009, multiple regional and international joint operations successfully disrupted a number of document vendors and facilitators, as well as related human-trafficking networks. Since 2008, DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have trained Brazilian airline employees on identifying fraudulent documents.
The U.S.-Brazil Container Security Initiative (CSI) in Santos, which began in 2005, continued to operate throughout 2013. The CSI promotes secure containerized cargo – shipped to the United States – by co-locating DHS CBP personnel overseas to work with a foreign customs administration, specifically to target, detect, and inspect high risk cargo and containers that are potentially associated with terrorism while facilitating the movement of legitimate trade. Brazil continued to reach out to CBP International Affairs and Office of Field Operations to learn best practices and conduct joint workshops to bolster supply chain security and port security.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Brazil is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America (GAFISUD), a FATF-style regional body (FSRB). Brazil gives FATF recommendations high priority and has created a working group chaired by the Ministry of Justice to incorporate these recommendations into legislation and regulation. Brazil seeks to play an active leadership role in its FSRB and has offered technical assistance to Argentina to implement FATF recommendations. Brazil updated its money laundering legislation in 2012, establishing stricter penalties but it did not criminalize terrorist financing as a stand-alone criminal offense. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Brazilian government continued to invest in border and law enforcement infrastructure and has undertaken initiatives to control the flow of goods—legal and illegal – through the Tri-Border Area of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Brazil’s intelligence and law enforcement forces also work with their regional and international partners. Brazil participates in regional counterterrorism fora, including: the OAS and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), the Union of South American Nations, and Mercosur’s working group on terrorism and sub-working group on financial issues – the latter of which discusses terrorist financing and money laundering among the Mercosur countries.
Overview: Canada played a vital role in international efforts to detect, disrupt, prevent, and punish acts of terrorism in 2013. Canada and the United States maintained a close, cooperative counterterrorism partnership, working together on key bilateral homeland security programs such as the Beyond the Border Action Plan and the Cross Border Crime Forum. Canada made major contributions to the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and the Global Initiative to Counter Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), while Canadian diplomacy supported global efforts to prevent radicalization, counter violent extremism, and promote the rule of law overseas. Canadian law enforcement made some significant terrorism-related arrests in 2013, including disrupting a nascent conspiracy to derail a passenger train traveling between Toronto and New York City.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents in Canada in 2013. However, in January, two Canadian citizens who participated in the seizure of the In Amenas gas plan in Algeria, Xristos Katsiroubas and Ali Medlej were killed in the attack.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Canada’s legal framework includes significant penalties for committing terrorist acts, conspiring to commit terrorist acts, financing terrorism, and traveling abroad to engage in terrorism. The Canadian government passed two counterterrorism-related bills in 2013, and introduced one more that failed to pass the House of Commons and terminated in September at the end of the first session of Parliament.
In April, Bill S-7, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, and the Security of Information Act, known as the Combating Terrorism Act received Royal Assent (the final legislative stage), and entered into force on July 15. The law restored clauses of the Antiterrorism Act of 2001 that had lapsed in 2007 under automatic sunset provisions. The law compels testimony at investigative hearings and permits preventive arrest and imposition of recognizance with conditions (preemptive bail conditions) on individuals to disrupt terrorist activity prior to the commission of a terrorist offense. New provisions include the offense of leaving or attempting to leave Canada for the purpose of engaging in terrorist activity or participating in terrorist training. It also increases penalties for individuals who knowingly harbor or conceal persons who have committed terrorist offenses.
In June, Bill S-9, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code, known as the Nuclear Terrorism Act received Royal Assent, and it entered into force on November 1. The law amended the legal definition of "terrorist activity" to include four new criminal offenses relating to the possession, use, transfer, export, import, alteration, and disposal of nuclear material or a radioactive device with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm, or substantial damage to property or the environment; committing acts against a nuclear facility; committing an indictable offense for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material or to obtain access to a nuclear facility; or threatening to commit any of these offenses. The passage of the law permits Canada to ratify the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
Canadian law enforcement units have effectively demonstrated their capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. Canadian law enforcement and homeland security entities readily share terrorism-related information with the United States and other investigative counterparts, and have clearly demarcated counterterrorism missions and effective working relationships with elements of the Canadian Forces that also have counterterrorism roles. Prosecutors work in close cooperation with specialized law enforcement units, all of which demonstrate its adherence to strict standards of accountability and scrupulous respect for human rights.
Canada has an extensive border security network, and makes excellent use of travel document security technology, terrorist-screening watch lists, biographic and biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry, and information sharing with other countries. Canada and the United States enjoy extensive border security collaboration under the auspices of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, the Cross Border Crime Forum, and other ongoing law enforcement exchanges.
Notable terrorism-related arrests in 2013 included:
- On April 22, police charged Chiheb Esseghaier – a Tunisian national – and Raed Jaser – a Palestinian national – with conspiring to derail a VIA Rail passenger train between Toronto and New York City. Neither of the suspects is a Canadian citizen. At year’s end, both men remained in custody and no trial date had been set. In a coordinated arrest, authorities in New York City arrested a third individual, Ahmed Abassi, whom they alleged radicalized Esseghaier and fraudulently applied for a visa to remain in the United States to commit acts of terrorism and develop a network of terrorist recruits.
- In June, the Canadian Minister of Justice ordered the surrender of Iraqi-born Canadian citizen Sayfildin (Sayf) Tahir Sharif (also known as Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa) to the United States to face charges of conspiracy to murder Americans abroad, aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. nationals abroad, and provision of material support to terrorist conduct. Sharif filed for judicial review of the Minister’s decision and also appealed the 2012 judicial ruling by an Alberta court that found sufficient evidence existed to justify extradition. The hearing date on both of these matters was set for May 1, 2014. On October 29, 2013, by Diplomatic Note, the U.S. provided assurances that the death penalty would not be sought or imposed should Sharif be convicted. Sharif remained in custody at year’s end.
- On July 1, police charged Canadian citizens John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody of Vancouver with plotting to explode pressure-cooker devices among crowds on the grounds of the British Columbia Legislature. Police alleged that the pair were self-radicalized and inspired by al-Qa’ida (AQ) ideology on the internet, but acted independently with no support from outside the country. In August, authorities transferred Nuttall to a forensic mental health facility. No trial date had been set by year’s end.
- In October, the Canadian Supreme Court heard an appeal of the constitutionality of an immigration security certificate against Ottawa resident Mohamed Harkat, which the Federal Court had upheld in 2010 on the basis that Harkat constituted a threat to national security. Authorities alleged that Harkat was an AQ sleeper agent. Separately, in June the Federal Court relaxed some restrictions on Harkat’s supervision in the community, including removal of his GPS tracking bracelet, and permitted him to travel domestically and have access to a mobile telephone and computer. The court ruled that Harkat had complied with previous conditions and that the danger he posed to the community had lessened with the passage of time.
- In October, a Federal Court judge upheld the reasonableness of an immigration security certificate against Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub. The judge found credible evidence that Mahjoub was a member of two Egyptian terrorist groups: al-Jihad and Vanguards of Conquest. In January 2013, the Federal Court had relaxed conditions against Mahjoub on the basis that he had complied with restrictions and that the danger he posed to public security had lessened with time.
- As of December 2013, Misbahuddin Ahmed, Khurram Sher and Hiva Alizadeh continued to await trial as a result of their August 2010 arrest and charges related to an alleged conspiracy to bomb targets in Ottawa and participate in and facilitate terrorist activity. Authorities released Misbahuddin Ahmed and Khurram Sher on bail in 2011, while Hiva Alizadeh remained in custody.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Canada is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Egmont Group, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, and is a supporting nation of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. Canada is also an observer in the Council of Europe’s Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financial Action Task Force of South America against Money Laundering. Canada has a rigorous detection and monitoring process in place to identify money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada is Canada's financial intelligence unit and is responsible for detecting, preventing, and deterring money laundering and financing of terrorist activities. From April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013, FINTRAC made 157 terrorist finance and security threat-related reports to law enforcement and national security partners, up from 116 the prior year. Canada has criminalized terrorist financing in accordance with international standards; freezes and confiscates terrorist assets without delay; monitors and regulates money/value transfer and other remittance services; requires collection of data for wire transfers; obligates non-profits to file suspicious transaction reports and monitors them to prevent misuse/terrorist financing; and routinely distributes UN lists of designated terrorists and terrorist organizations to financial institutions. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Canada prioritizes collaboration with international partners to counter terrorism and international crime, and regularly seeks opportunities to lead. Canada is a founding member of the GCTF and co-chairs the GCTF Sahel Working Group with Algeria. Canada was also active in fora dealing with counterterrorism, including the OSCE, UN, G-8, OAS, APEC, ASEAN, and the ASEAN Regional Forum, Commonwealth, International Civil Aviation Organization, and the International Maritime Organization. Canada makes major contributions to the GCTF and the GICNT, while Canadian diplomacy supports global efforts to prevent radicalization, counter violent extremism, and promote the rule of law overseas.
Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development maintains a Counterterrorism Capacity Building Program, and provides training, funding, equipment, and technical and legal assistance to states to enable them to prevent and respond to a broad spectrum of terrorist activity. Examples of Canadian counterterrorism assistance include: border security; transportation security; legislative, regulatory and legal policy development; human rights training; law enforcement, security, military and intelligence training; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and explosives terrorism prevention; mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery; detecting and preventing terrorism financing; cyber security; and protection of critical infrastructure.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s National Security Community Outreach program promotes interaction and relationship-building with at-risk communities. The Department of Public Safety’s Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security fosters dialogue on national security issues between the government and community leaders, including diaspora groups. Both of these initiatives are part of Canada’s aforementioned Counterterrorism Strategy, which seeks specifically to reduce the risk of individuals succumbing to violent extremism and radicalization. The government continued to work with NGO partners and concerned communities to deter violent extremism through preventative programming and community outreach.
Overview: In 2013, even with an increase of attacks on infrastructure, Colombia experienced a year of overall decreased terrorist activity, thanks in part to significant successes in its military campaign against Colombia’s largest terrorist organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).Although the government and the FARC reached tentative, partial agreements on land reform and political participation, no bilateral peace agreement was concluded.
The number of members of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), including the FARC, the National Liberation Army(ELN), and several minor guerrilla groups killed in combat in 2013 went down by23 percent, from 439 in 2012 to 340 in 2013. Similarly, the number of members of FTOs and guerrilla organizations captured decreased by 17 percent, from 3,151in 2012 to 2,611 in 2013. At the same time, the total number of insurgents who demobilized in the same period rose by 18 percent from 1140 in 2012 to 1,350 in 2013. The FARC concluded the year by declaring a 30-day unilateral ceasefire starting on December 15, while President Santos stated the government would continue its military pressure against insurgents. The ELN also expressed a desire to find a “political exit.” Although formal peace negotiations with the government have not started, the ELN released two high-profile victims of kidnapping and named a five-person negotiating team.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: As in 2012, the FARC focused on low-cost, high-impact asymmetric attacks. The most common forms of terrorist activity were the launching of mortars at police stations or the military, explosive devices placed near roads or paths, sniper attacks, roadblocks, and ambushes. Terrorist attacks on infrastructure – particularly on oil pipelines and equipment – primarily by the FARC and the ELN, increased by 46 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. Security forces and government buildings were the most common targets, although civilian casualties occurred throughout the year. Attacks were most common along the Venezuelan border in the departments of Arauca, Norte de Santander, and La Guajira, in the southwestern departments of Nariño and Cauca, and in the northwestern department of Antioquia.
In 2013, Colombian government statistics showed a seven percent decrease in attacks from 2012, with 830 terrorist incidents around the country compared to 894 attacks in the previous year. Among the terrorist attacks recorded in 2013, several were notable for their severity or significant press coverage:
- On May 10, Colombian police identified and neutralized a vehicle bomb that the FARC placed in a parking lot in Bogota. The vehicle contained 1.5 kilos of pentolite, enough to kill civilians in the immediate area, and was adjacent to a building that housed district attorneys.
- On June 20, FARC rebels kidnapped American citizen Kevin Scott Sutay when he entered FARC-influenced territory. On October 27, the FARC released Sutay after Colombian government, U.S., and other international pressure and Red Cross mediation.
- In October, repeated FARC attacks on energy infrastructure left the municipality of Tumaco in the Department of Nariño without water for almost a week and without power for more than three weeks. Similar attacks in Buenaventura in the Department of Valle del Cauca in November left approximately 400,000 residents without electricity.
- In October and November, the FARC carried out repeated attacks on the Cerrejon coal mine in the Department of La Guajira, which represents 40 percent of Colombia’s coal exports. The FARC derailed coal trains on October 13 and 21, and killed one soldier and wounded two others that were guarding the mine on November 13.
- On December 7, the FARC attacked a police station in the town of Inza in the Department of Cauca, killing five soldiers, one policeman, and three civilians, and wounding more than 40 people.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The legal regime governing the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases in Colombia is governed by Section 906 of Colombia’s Criminal Code, which phased in an accusatory system for the country’s criminal justice system. The goal of Section 906 is to develop an evidence-based system of justice where cases are tried before a judge based on testimonial, physical, or documentary evidence with a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has a specialized Counterterrorism Unit with prosecutors assigned at the national level in Bogota, and in regions of conflict throughout the country. The unit has developed a great deal of expertise in investigating and prosecuting acts of terrorism and insurgency with the Prosecutor General’s own Technical Criminal Investigative Body (CTI), Colombia’s National Police (CNP), and the country’s military forces. Most cases are prosecuted under traditional legal statutes that are used for narcotics trafficking and organized crime, such as conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms for exclusive use of the armed forces. There are some specialized statutes that the Counterterrorism Unit uses, such as “rebellion” under Section 467 of Colombia’s Criminal Code. Colombia’s rebellion statute criminalizes “those who, through armed conflict, seek to overthrow the Constitutionally-enacted government of Colombia.”
On October 23, Colombia’s Constitutional Court struck down a constitutional amendment intended to provide greater legal protection to members of security forces and expand the jurisdiction of military courts over crimes allegedly committed by members of the security forces. President Santos later publicly announced his intention to resubmit the bill to Congress in 2014, arguing such an amendment would encourage the military to be more effective in the fight against terrorism.
Colombian law enforcement units have demonstrated their capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. However, there is room for improvement in interagency cooperation and sharing of terrorism-related information. Prosecutors are consulted at early stages of investigations and work, in coordination with counterparts in other components of law enforcement. The CNP has specialized counterterrorism units in the Intelligence, Anti-Kidnapping, and Judicial Police Directorates, all with advanced investigation techniques and crisis response capabilities. However, there is no single agency that has jurisdiction over terrorism-related investigations and post-incident response. Law enforcement units display clear and effective command and control within each organization. These specialized law enforcement units are properly equipped and supported with relevant training. Counterterrorism missions are demarcated to a limited extent between law enforcement and military units. Colombia’s contemporary military and law enforcement units have an improved record of accountability and respect for human rights. In April, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights formally removed Colombia from its list of human rights abusers in the region.
Colombian authorities created several military task forces to enhance coordination in combating terrorism. The CNP created fusion centers to ensure all operational missions coordinate intelligence, investigations, and operations under the command of regional police commanders. Additionally, the Police Intelligence Directorate inaugurated a 24-hour-a-day Citizen Security Center tasked with detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorist attacks, among other crimes.
Colombian border security remained an areaof vulnerability. Law enforcement officers faced the challenge of working in areas with porous borders and difficult topography plagued by the presence of illegal armed groups and illicit drug cultivation. The CNP lacked the manpower to enforce uniform policies for vehicle or passenger inspection at land border crossings. Biometric and biographic screening was conducted only at international airports.
Improved relations with neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela have led to some increased cooperation from those countries on law enforcement issues. Colombia also continued cooperation and information sharing with the Panamanian National Border Service. The CNP does not currently utilize advancepassenger name records, but is in the process of designing and procuring asystem that will allow it to do so.
Colombian authorities killed or arrested several important FARC members in 2013. An investigation revealed that the FARC, ELN, and the criminal gang “Urabeños” were working together in the department of Antioquia. In November, Colombian authorities cited new evidence recovered from seized FARC computers indicating the FARC paid a criminal organization US $500,000 to carry out the May 2012 assassination attempt against former Interior Minister Fernando Londoño. On December 15, a CTI-CNP operation killed FARC member Diego Fernando Tabares, the alleged planner of the Londoño assassination attempt and a separate future plot to assassinate former President Alvaro Uribe and current Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre. Colombian authorities also had improved results hindering the operations of terrorist support networks.
While kidnappings as a whole have declined in recent years, they continued to pose a real threat, especially in rural and insurgent-influenced portions of Colombia. In 2013, Colombia saw a 79 percent reduction in kidnappings from the same period in 2004. Organized extortion networks inhibit economic growth and subvert the rule of law where they are active, and the alleged failure of victims to accede to extortion demands is regularly cited as the cause for terrorist attacks. The CNP Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Extortion Directorate (DIASE, also referred to as GAULA) has an international kidnapping unit to address any kidnappings involving foreign nationals.
Law enforcement cooperation between Colombia and the United States remained excellent. Evidence sharing and joint law enforcement operations occurred in a fluid and efficient manner, with information gathered in Colombia contributing to hundreds of prosecutions of U.S.-based criminals and organizations. The Prosecutor General’s Counterterrorism Unit reported no investigations and prosecutions of acts of terrorism against U.S. citizens during the year.
Colombia continued to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA provided instruction and resources as part of a five-year plan to assist Colombia in building advanced, self-sustaining border security capabilities, to investigate terrorists and terrorist incidents, and to protect critical infrastructure. Colombia continued to establish itself as a regional provider of counterterrorism training, particularly with regard to anti-kidnapping and protection of national leadership training.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Colombia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America against Money Laundering (GAFISUD), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Colombia stands out as a regional leader in the fight against terrorist financing,and has become a key part of a regional financial intelligence unit initiative aimed at strengthening information-sharing among Latin American countries.
Asset forfeiture cases developed by the Prosecutor General Office’s Counterterrorism Unit were referred to the Prosecutor General Office’s National Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit. The Unit’s prosecutors were generally very experienced. Given the volume of case referrals from virtually all units in the Prosecutor General’s Office, however, asset forfeiture prosecutors often found themselves overwhelmed.
The Prosecutor General’s Office used the same legal asset forfeiture tools for seizing assets in all criminal cases, including organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism. On December 12, the Colombian Congress approved and sent to President Santos for his signature, a more stringent asset forfeiture law that established a technical legal regime to streamline the manner in which the Prosecutor General’s Office processes such cases. The Prosecutor General’s Office also initiated a process of restructuring that includes the creation of more specialized police units with expertise in asset forfeiture and organized crime, especially financial crime.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Colombia is actively involved in the UN, the OAS and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), the Pacific Alliance, the Union of South American Nations, and is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. The Colombian government frequently integrates the recommendations of the UN and OAS into its security and human rights decisions. The CNP operates an Interpol office of approximately 70 analysts, agents, and support staff. Colombia also led the creation of the American Police Community (Ameripol), with CNP Director General Rodolfo Palomino Lopez serving as Ameripol’s president in 2013. Colombia also helped found the Latin American and Caribbean Community of Police Intelligence in 2005, whose Technical Secretariat is based in Bogota.
Colombia is becoming a key leader in providing security training and assistance to other countries in the region. From January through October, Colombia conducted security training for 7,627 non-Colombian individuals – including 3,818 individuals from Central America and the Caribbean – in counter-narcotics, citizen security, crime prevention and monitoring, and military and police capacity building. The CNP and military continued to operate schools that train security personnel from around the region. Colombia provided judicial training to regional judges and prosecutors in handling drug trafficking and terrorism cases, basic and advanced helicopter training to pilots from countries throughout Latin America, and maintained its elite Lancero and Jungla special forces courses open to students from other countries. Colombia hopes to deepen its international security cooperation by becoming a non-member partner nation of NATO. The government signed an information sharing agreement with NATO on June 25 and introduced it to Congress for approval on September 11.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Colombia employed a robust and modern multi-agency approach to countering radicalization and violent extremism, with a focus on encouraging individual members and entire units of the FARC and ELN to demobilize and reintegrate into society. In 2013, a total of 1,350 FARC and ELN members and other dissidents had demobilized, an increase of 18 percent over 2012. The demobilization and reintegration programs provide medical care, psychological counseling, education benefits, and job placement assistance for former members of the FARC and ELN. In order to receive benefits, demobilized members of the paramilitary, FARC, and ELN must check in monthly. Recidivism rates were estimated at between 10 and 20 percent by the Colombian Agency for Reintegration.
The Colombian armed forces and police employed a number of fixed and mobile radio transmitters to broadcast strategic messaging to potential deserters. Such messaging was also seen in print, television, and alternative media. The Colombian military and police employed the same media to counter FARC recruitment efforts. Additionally, the Ministry of Defense organized highly publicized festivals and social events with celebrity participation to discourage the recruitment of vulnerable youth.
Overview: The Mexican government remained vigilant against domestic and international terrorist threats in 2013. There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, and there is no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory. The Government of Mexico continued to strengthen law enforcement institutions and to disrupt and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations responsible for much of the violence in Mexico.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Mexico’s Congress passed a political reform in 2013 that, among other goals, aims to create a more independent federal investigative and prosecutorial body by increasing the autonomy of the Office of the Attorney General (PGR) from the President. The legislation seeks to amend Mexico’s Constitution and would require the approval of a simple majority of Mexican states to be implemented.
There are weaknesses in Mexico’s capacity to proactively investigate and detect terrorism-related activities. Specialized units exist within the PGR that focus on organized crime and money laundering, but Mexican authorities could improve cooperation with other government entities, such as the Mexican Finance Secretariat’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF).
CBP has mechanisms in place, in Mexico City, to verify and validate travel documents at the request of the Mexican government. Mexico is expanding its capacity to collect and store biometric information. On December 18, 2013, Mexican Immigration (INM) launched the Trusted Traveler Program (“Viajero Confiable,” its Global Entry Program equivalent). This program will enable Mexico to develop a list of trusted travelers, allowing them to focus more on the passengers about which they know the least. CBP assisted Mexico with the vetting of “Viajero Confiable” members, and Mexico assisted the United States on the vetting of Mexican citizens who applied for Global Entry. Mexico’s capacity to collect and share passenger name record (PNR) information is expanding. Mexican Customs has asked for CBP assistance with U.S. airline carriers to ensure compliance with SAT PNR requirements.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Government of Mexico continue to strengthen passenger information sharing. In support of U.S. efforts to identify and interdict illegitimate travel and travelers, the U.S. government provided training to local, state, and federal officials, as well as to bank investigators, on how to detect fraudulent U.S. and Mexican identity and travel documents.
Mexico participated in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. The goals of the ATA program in Mexico are to build border security capabilities; to prevent terrorists or terrorist organizations from operating and establishing safe havens, whether physical or virtual; and to build critical infrastructure protection capabilities. The ATA partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement continues to coordinate protection of national leadership training and cyber infrastructure security training.
On May 30, 2013, Manssor Arbabsiar was sentenced in a federal court in New York City to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty for his role in a plot by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. The Government of Mexico assisted the United States in its investigation of Arbabsiar, which led to his arrest in September 2011.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Mexico is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an observer of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval), and a non-observer special status member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. In 2013, the Financial Intelligence Unit of the National Banking Commission (UIF/CNBV) was working to finalize a law that would allow Mexico to freeze, without delay, funds directly or indirectly tied to terrorist financing. In October 2012, Mexico’s President signed long-awaited anti-money laundering legislation into law; as a result, the Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Operations with Illicit Resources, which went into effect on July 17, 2013, targets “vulnerable” transactions or activities that could be exploited for money laundering and terrorist financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Mexico continued to work with the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) to implement a joint counterterrorism work plan, which includes nonproliferation and weapons of mass destruction interdiction. OAS/CICTE collaborated closely with the Export Control and Related Border Security Program on this initiative, and in 2013, the Committee funded multiple CICTE workshops in Mexico City focused on building awareness and best practices. In May, Mexico hosted the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism plenary in Mexico City.
Overview: The most direct terrorist threats to Panama were incursions by small units of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 57th Front, which traversed remote areas of the Darien Region to smuggle drugs and people from Colombia. The Panamanian National Border Service (SENAFRONT) undertook several operations against the FARC in 2013, degrading the FARC’s capabilities in Panama to the point where they could not maintain a permanent presence . Panama has continued close cooperation with its neighbors, particularly Colombia, to secure its borders. Additionally, the Panama Canal Authority’s vigilance, along with international support, contributed to the security of the Panama Canal.
The potential for illicit transit and transshipment of strategically controlled, sanctioned, and dual-use goods and technologies through the Panama Canal and its Free Trade Zones (FTZ) is a vulnerability for Panama.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2013, Panama passed a law that modified the language contained in the Penal Code regarding terrorism-related crimes. The law adds new provisions to the Criminal Code related to common aggravating circumstances and the crime of terrorism, establishing a penalty of six months to a year without prejudicing the right to claim compensation for damages sustained.
The seizure of the North Korean-flagged vessel Chong Chon Gang, which was carrying illicit arms, demonstrated the threat of armaments smuggling through Panama. Panama has yet to adopt comprehensive strategic trade management legislation but is working on a draft Executive Decree that would publish a National Control List for Panama. Efforts on the decree are being led by the Coordination Council Against International Terrorism, a body created by Executive Decree 448 of December 28, 2011, to review compliance with international terrorism conventions, strategize the implementation of UNSC Resolutions on terrorism, compile information about public institution measures against terrorism, report on actions taken, and recommend new measures. The draft decree was under review at the end of 2013.
Securing borders as well as air and seaports have been priorities of counterterrorism efforts in Panama. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has linked the Panamanian Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) at Tocumen International Airport to CBP data systems in the United States. Both CBP and the Export and Border Security Program (EXBS) have worked with the Government of Panama on risk analysis models that can be used to segment high risk travelers and cargo. Mobile security teams supporting the Tocumen Airport continued to identify and intercept fugitives, persons associated with organized crime and terrorists networks, as well as interdict narcotics and currency being smuggled through Panama.
The Government of Panama continued its efforts to enforce its sovereignty in the Darien through more aggressive patrolling by security forces. Panama has eliminated the permanent presence of the FARC in Panamanian towns along the border. However, incursions and the use of territory by the FARC and drug gangs to transport narcotics and people continued to pose a threat to residents there.
In February, a SENAFRONT officer was injured in a clash with FARC elements. SENAFRONT operations against FARC elements intensified in late 2013. In early November, SENAFRONT captured a FARC member after a firefight near Bagre, Darien. Clashes also occurred near Mogue, Darien, resulting in the capture of one guerrilla fighter and some supplies. In December, SENAFRONT Director Abrego reported at least 15 clashes occurred from October to December between SENAFRONT and armed groups – including the FARC and others – escorting drugs into Panama from Colombia. The clashes resulted in two deaths, five injuries, and 20 FARC members captured.
Panama has several cooperative programs with the United States, detailed below, to address terrorism threats in and from Panama:
- The United States and Panama continued to plan for responding to incidents that could potentially shut down transit through the Panama Canal. In August, Panama hosted the annual PANAMAX ALPHA exercise, a multi-national security training exercise that focuses on canal security. The exercise included a U.S. component – Task Force Eagle – that supported Panama’s Public Forces (PPF) on exercise scenarios.
- The U.S. Southern Command sponsored training and provided equipment to PPF in 2013. Funding – as well as the donation of boats, communications equipment, and training – increased Panama’s capacity to protect its borders from FARC incursion by supporting the completion of a strategically-located pier for the PPF near the Panamanian-Colombian border on the Pacific Coast.
- Panama's Darien region is a significant pathway for human smuggling with potential counterterrorism implications; approximately 3,000 migrants were stopped by SENAFRONT in 2013. While approximately 64 percent are Cubans, the Panamanian National Border Service reports a consistent flow of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian smuggled aliens (30 percent of the total number), including from countries that have active terrorist networks operating within them. Some of this smuggling is being facilitated by FARC elements operating on both sides of the border. Representatives of DHS and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with Panamanian authorities to identify smuggled aliens with potential terrorism ties.
- The U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program delivered courses in Cyber Awareness for Prosecutors, Quality Control in Civil Aviation Security, Terrorist Crime Scene Investigations, Investigating Terrorist Incidents, Instructor Development, and Mass Transit Security.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Panama is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America (GAFISUD), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Panama’s financial intelligence unit, Unidad de Análisis Financiero (UAF), is responsible for analyzing suspicious financial transactions but the unit lacks resources and political independence. The legal and regulatory frameworks that address anti-money laundering also address counterterrorist financing in Panama. In August, Panama enacted legislation to immobilize bearer shares, but the law does not go into full effect until 2018. Until then, the continued existence of bearer share corporations remains a prime vulnerability of the regulatory framework.
Uneven enforcement of existing anti-money laundering and terrorist finance controls coupled with the weak judicial system remained a problem. Moreover, the Colon Free Zone, the second largest free zone in the world, continued to be vulnerable to exploitation for illicit financial activities – due primarily to weak customs, trade, and financial transactions oversight. The IMF conducted a detailed assessment in October 2012 on anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing in Panama. The final report was not released by year’s end.
The United States and Panama signed an agreement in October to utilize US $36 million of seized assets to fight money laundering and related crimes, which would include terrorist finance. Projects for these funds were being determined by mutual agreement.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Panama participates in UN and regional security initiatives, such as the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE). Panama has a well-established border commission with Colombia and continued to cooperate on training with partners in the region. Several Panamanian officers have attended training in Colombia on security tactics and equipment maintenance, and the Colombian Army and National Police have provided additional operational training in Panama facilitated through the U.S.-Colombia High-Level Strategic Security Dialogue. In addition, Panama hosted personnel from Nicaragua and Costa Rica at its training facilities.
The Colombia-Panama Binational Commission met in April. Panama and Colombia senior security officials met in June and September to discuss border security issues. In addition, the two countries took steps to strengthen border security by agreeing to establish a joint base in Panama near their border. This permanently manned base will improve security in the Darien by hindering the entrance of FARC from Colombia. Security forces from Panama and Colombia will be able to exchange information quickly and conduct operations on each side of the border against the FARC and other groups.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: While internal capacity is limited, Panama continued to develop and refine its civil affairs and information operations capacity as part of its overall strategy to counter FARC influence in the Darien. Working with NGO partners and the Government of Panama, the United States supported four youth centers in the Darien to provide more options for young people to constructively use their free time and energy.
Overview: The Government of Paraguay continued to pursue individuals under counterterrorism laws created in 2010 and 2011. In August, President Horacio Cartes successfully lobbied the Paraguayan Congress to modify the National Defense Law and broaden the Executive’s authority to deploy the Paraguayan military domestically to combat internal threats. Paraguay faced challenges of ineffective immigration, customs, and law enforcement controls along its porous borders, particularly the Tri-Border Area with Argentina and Brazil.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: Since 2008, persons claiming to be part of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) – an internal guerrilla movement – have been active in the northern Departments of Concepcion and San Pedro. The group has been involved in violence designed to intimidate the population and government. The true size of the group has been difficult to establish, but the Government of Paraguay believes it to be a small, decentralized group of 20-100 members. Assumed EPP activity intensified in 2013, with multiple attacks occurring on isolated police and army posts, on ranchers and on peasants accused of collaborating with security services.
The EPP is widely suspected to be responsible for the following incidents in 2013:
- On February 19, a human rights activist was killed by alleged members of the EPP.
- On April 18, a civilian truck driver was killed by alleged members of the EPP.
- On April 21, one policeman was killed and three were injured by a roadside bomb allegedly planted by the EPP in Concepcion during national elections.
- On May 31, alleged members of the EPP killed a rancher in Tacuati.
- On August 17, five security guards at the same ranch in Tacuati were executed by alleged members of the EPP who then used homemade bombs and firearms to attack reinforcements sent to the scene.
- On October 1, a policeman was killed and six injured in a shootout in Tacuati when alleged EPP members ambushed a convoy with the Minister of the Interior.
- On October 23, the chief of police in Horqueta was killed and three others were injured in a shootout with alleged EPP members.
- On December 8, a military official was killed and another wounded in a shootout with alleged EPP members in Horqueta, Concepcion.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Paraguay pursued individuals suspected of terrorist crimes under laws passed in 2010 and 2011. Counterterrorism functions are handled by the Paraguayan National Police Secretariat for the Prevention and Investigation of Terrorism.
On August 22, the Paraguayan Senate approved a law to give the President power to use the armed forces to confront “internal or external aggression that threatens the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Paraguay.” While this authority does not require prior congressional approval, the President must notify Congress within 48 hours of deployment. Since the passage of the law, military forces have been deployed in the San Pedro, Concepcion, and Amambay departments with limited success.
The government made upgrades to Paraguay’s principal international airport, the Silvio Pettirossi Airport in Asuncion, to improve perimeter security and immigration controls. Few steps were taken to address security issues at land border crossings, however, particularly with respect to the large and generally unprotected borders with Argentina and Brazil. The minimal police and military presence along these borders allowed for a largely unregulated flow of people, contraband, and money.
The Government of Paraguay continued to cooperate with the United States on counterterrorism matters, and the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program contributed to building Paraguay’s counterterrorism law enforcement capacity through training that included: the Police Leader’s Role in Combatting Terrorism, Fraudulent Document Recognition, Investigating Terrorist Incidents, Interviewing Terrorist Suspects, and Cellular Telephone Forensics. Paraguay’s efforts to provide more effective law enforcement and border security were hampered by pervasive corruption within security, border control, and judicial institutions.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Paraguay is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America against Money Laundering (GAFISUD), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Paraguay maintains counterterrorist financing legislation, although there were no terrorist financing convictions in 2013. Significant quantities of money are laundered through businesses or moved in cash. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Paraguay collaborated with Brazil and Argentina in border protection initiatives, regional exchanges, and discussions on counterterrorism and law enforcement projects. In March, Paraguayan officials attended the 13th Regular Session of the OAS’s Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE).
Overview: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) remained a significant threat to Peru’s internal security, although its numbers have shrunk considerably from its peak in the early 1990s when it numbered between 7,500 and 10,000 combatants in its ranks. By the end of 2013, the SL consisted of a single active faction with an estimated 300 to 500 fighters. Its area of activity and influence was largely confined to the special military emergency zone known as the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM), a remote and rugged region slightly larger than Switzerland that accounts for over half of the cocaine produced in Peru. The SL sustained itself through its involvement in drug production, narcotics trafficking, and extortion of “revolutionary taxes” from others involved in the drug trade. It continued to use Maoist philosophy to justify its illegal activities. The SL faction that previously operated in the Upper Huallaga Valley (UHV) collapsed following the capture of its leader, Florindo Flores Hala, better known as Comrade Artemio, in February 2012. Artemio was the sole remaining member of the SL’s historic Central Committee from the 1980s and 1990s that had not already been convicted or killed.
On August 10, an operation conducted by a joint military-police task force in the VRAEM resulted in the deaths of two of the SL’s top leaders, Alejandro Borda Casafranca (also known as Comrade Alipio) and Martin Quispe Palomino (also known as Comrade Gabriel). Alipio was the SL’s number two overall leader and widely recognized as its most capable and dangerous field commander. Gabriel occupied a spot on SL’s Central Committee and was the brother of the faction’s supreme leader, Victor Quispe Palomino (also known as Comrade Jose).
The demise of Alipio and Gabriel was the biggest blow sustained by the SL since the capture of SL’s then-national leader, Comrade Feliciano, in 1999. The organization remains dangerous, however, and could reunite as it has done in the past after sustaining hard blows.
The joint operation that claimed the lives of Alipio and Gabriel was conducted in accordance with a new Peruvian government strategy that emphasizes intelligence and unity of command in combatting the SL. The successful operation also demonstrated the increasing ability of security forces to plan and execute complex missions and the willingness of military and police forces to work together. The government’s new strategy, announced by President Humala in July, also stresses gaining control of territory in the VRAEM at the lowest cost in human lives. Three soldiers were killed in the VRAEM in 2013, a significant reduction from the 19 members of the security forces who lost their lives in armed confrontations with the SL in 2012.
There was some evidence to suggest declining popular support for the SL among the general population in the VRAEM. For example, the SL appeared to have made a crucial error on July 23 when one of its units, led by Alipio, set fire to heavy construction machinery being used to pave a highway linking the VRAEM with the city of Ayacucho. This was a project long sought by the local population as a means of improving their lives and reducing their isolation. The US$5 million in equipment losses sustained by the company building the highway caused it to pull out of the project, which cost many local employees their jobs and possibly created a one-year delay in connecting local farmers to markets for their products. Thousands of residents in the VRAEM subsequently participated in a government-organized “Peace March” on August 18 in Pichari, the region’s unofficial capital.
The Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights, a Shining Path political front organization founded in 2009, actively sought to increase its influence, particularly on university campuses and in undeveloped areas where the state had a minimal presence. The organization made a particular effort to attract support among agricultural workers and to penetrate teachers unions and university faculties. It also played an active role provoking opposition to development projects.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: According to the Government of Peru, the SL carried out 49 terrorist acts, a noticeable decline from the 87 reported acts it committed in 2012. The SL has not conducted any major operations against Peruvian security forces since Alipio and Gabriel were killed in August, except for repeated sniper fire at military outposts in the central VRAEM, particularly Union Mantaro. In addition to the July 23 incident mentioned above, notable SL action included:
- In March, the SL destroyed four cellular phone towers in the VRAEM. These actions likely reflected SL’s desire to cut communication services in the special emergency zone that could be used by security forces to pinpoint the location of their rebel columns.
- On April 5, SL snipers fired on an Army counterterrorism base in the district of Echaratein the Department of Cusco, killed one soldier and wounded another.
- On June 5, a column of 23 armed SL fighters took over a worksite of Consorcio Vila Quinua in Ayacucho’s Huanta province, seizing communication equipment, food, and medicine.
- On November 26, SL snipers killed a solder at the Union Mantaro counterterrorism base in Junin’s Satipo province in the VRAEM.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Peru has passed a variety of laws specifically designed to counter terrorism during the past three decades. In 2013, Peru passed two related laws (Law 29988 and Law 30076) which banned the hiring and/or rehiring within Peru’s educational system of anyone convicted on terrorism charges. Congress also passed Law 30077, the Law against Organized Crime, which expanded the government’s authority to conduct electronic eavesdropping against suspected terrorists. In January, Congress passed Law 29979, which established criteria to compensate victims of terrorism.
Peru has steadily improved its ability to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents in the 21 years since police captured the SL’s founder and chief ideologue, Abimael Guzman. Improved cooperation and information-sharing between specialized police and military counterterrorism units played a major role in the takedown of Alipio and Gabriel in August.
President Humala continued reauthorizing 60-day states of emergency in the VRAEM and the UHV emergency zones, giving the armed forces and police additional authority to maintain public order.
Immigration authorities collected no biometrics information from visitors. Citizens of neighboring countries were allowed to travel to Peru by land using only national identification cards. There was no visa requirement for citizens from Mexico and most countries in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. Peruvian immigration used a database called “Movimiento Migratorio” at seven points of entry to track entries and exits of travelers, but the database was limited to Interpol and a local database that tracks outstanding warrants. Peruvian immigration did not have access to passenger name recognition data or a terrorist watch list.
Apart from the August 10 security force operation that resulted in the deaths of Alipio and Gabriel, the most significant law enforcement actions against the Shining Path this year included:
- In April, counterterrorism police disbanded a financial ring suspected of laundering more than US $150 million for SL.
- On June 7, Comrade Artemio, the long-time leader of the SL faction in the UHV, was given a life sentence for the crimes of aggravated terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering.
- On July 14, former Congresswoman Nancy Obregon was arrested and charged with terrorism. Obregon was detained with more than 20 other people, including two of her siblings, for alleged ties to the Shining Path and international drug rings. She is awaiting trial on charges of having planned cocaine shipments from the Huallaga Valley to Bolivia.
- On December 9, a joint military-police task force captured Alezander Fabian Huaman, alias “Hector,” the last of Comrade Artemio’s lieutenants still at large. Hector was charged with trying to reconstitute the SL in the UHV following Artemio’s capture in February 2012.
- SL founder and leader Abimael Guzman and key accomplices remained in prison serving life sentences stemming from crimes committed in the 1980s and 1990s.
Political will to counter terrorism in Peru exists at all levels. Cooperation between specialized police and military counterterrorism units has improved, as evidenced by the operation that killed SL leaders Alipio and Gabriel. Relations between the military and the Peruvian National Police in general, however, were characterized by competition and mistrust. Interagency cooperation between senior-level policy planners and operators on the ground also remained a problem, as did the high rate of turnover among senior security leaders.
The government also continued to be hampered by resource constraints, corruption, and a lack of training. New recruits to the security forces were often sent to emergency zones with inadequate training, and were poorly equipped to fight battles in a dense jungle environment. Corruption was endemic within both the judiciary and security forces, although President Humala has declared eliminating corruption a pillar of his administration. Existing laws are adequate, but there was a lack of full and timely implementation.
Peru continued to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA delivered courses designed to manage critical incidents, increase awareness among law enforcement leadership of the potential threat from terrorism, and prevent terrorist misuse of the internet and digital media.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Peru is a member of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America (GAFISUD), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In 2013, the Government of Peru made significant strides in the implementation of the National Plan to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
In 2013, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) received new powers to freeze bank accounts in cases suspected of links with terrorist financing within 24 hours of a judge’s request without the prerequisite of a criminal case being filed. This is an important advancement, especially with respect to enforcing UNSCR sanctions. The FIU has requested a complementary bill to provide more legal clarity in the implementation of this new power. The Executive announced that a bill had been submitted to Congress.
Additionally, in August, a new implementing regulation was passed that allows the Peruvian Customs and Tax Authority (SUNAT) to seize cash holdings above US $30,000 from individuals crossing the border. SUNAT is required to immediately inform the FIU of any seizure, and the owners of the seized currency have 72 hours to submit evidence to the FIU that the cash is of licit origin. Additionally, the FIU can now initiate investigations on suspicious electronic transactions over US $10,000.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Government of Peru has publicly noted the importance of heavily investing in the VRAEM as a means of breaking the symbiotic relationship that has existed for years between the VRAEM’s residents and SL. In 2013, the Government of Peru more than doubled the civilian budget for social and economic development. The increased funds are being used to pave roads, provide basic health and education services, and establish a greater state presence.
The official position of the National Penitentiary Institute is that prison is meant to rehabilitate and reintegrate prisoners, especially terrorists. A psychological evaluation is required of incarcerated terrorists before parole can be granted. Many observers have expressed concern that the program is ineffective and that many convicted terrorists are not rehabilitated, but instead choose to rejoin SL upon release.
Overview: In May, for the eighth consecutive year, the U.S. Department of State determined, pursuant to section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act, that Venezuela was not cooperating fully with U.S. counterterrorism efforts. The Venezuelan government took no action against senior Venezuelan government officials who have been designated as Foreign Narcotics Kingpins by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for directly supporting the narcotics and arms trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). However, Venezuelan and Colombian officials held high-level talks on border and security issues.
Venezuela maintained the economic, financial, and diplomatic cooperation with Iran that the late President Hugo Chavez established during his presidency. President Nicolas Maduro publicly stated his intention to strengthen ties with Iran. The two countries have agreements in various sectors, including housing construction, agriculture, car assembly, and shipping.
The International Development Bank, a subsidiary of the Development and Export Bank of Iran, continued to operate in Venezuela despite its designation in 2008 by the U.S. Treasury Department under E.O. 13382 (“Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and their Supporters”).
There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained a permissive environment that allowed for support of activities that benefited known terrorist groups. Individuals linked to FARC and National Liberation Army (ELN) members were present in Venezuela, as well as Hizballah supporters or sympathizers.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Venezuelan criminal code and additional Venezuelan laws explicitly criminalize terrorism and dictate procedures for prosecuting individuals engaged in terrorist activity. Venezuelan military and civilian agencies perform counterterrorism functions. Within the Venezuelan armed forces, the Command Actions Group of the National Guard has primary counterterrorism duty. The Venezuelan intelligence service (SEBIN) and the Division of Counterterrorism Investigations in the Bureau of Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigative Corps within the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace have primary civilian counterterrorism responsibilities. The degree of interagency cooperation and information sharing among agencies is unknown due to a lack of government transparency.
Border security at ports of entry is vulnerable and susceptible to corruption. The Venezuelan government did not perform biographic and biometric screening at ports of entry or exit. There was no automated system to collect advance passenger name records on commercial flights or to cross check flight manifests with passenger disembarkation data.
Venezuelan officials arrested Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) member Asier Guridi Zaloña (aka “Gari”) on September 20 after Spain requested his extradition, but released him in December. Also in December, the National Guard reportedly detained FARC commander Reinel Guzman (aka “Rafael Gutierrez”) in the state of Apue near the Venezuela-Colombia border.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Venezuela is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body (FATF); the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission Anti-Money Laundering Group; and the Egmont Group. Venezuela made progress in implementing its 2010 FATF action plan. The CFATF reported in February that Venezuela had criminalized terrorist financing and established a regime for freezing terrorist assets without delay. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Venezuela participated as an official observer in ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. In August, Venezuela and Colombia announced that the two countries would increase bilateral cooperation to reduce smuggling of illegal goods, narcotics trafficking, and the activity of illegally armed groups. In September and October, the Venezuelan and Colombian defense ministers met to coordinate joint efforts to fight illegally armed groups along the Venezuela-Colombia border.