Chapter 1. Country Reports: Western Hemisphere

Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism
Report

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

OVERVIEW

Foreign terrorist fighter travel from the Western Hemisphere to Iraq and Syria virtually stopped in 2017, as heightened awareness of the threat led to tightened border security. However, Canada, and to a lesser extent, the Caribbean – particularly Trinidad and Tobago – had previously been significant per capita sources of foreign terrorist fighters and the potential return of these trained individuals remains of great concern. In addition, many Latin American countries have porous borders, limited law enforcement capabilities, and established smuggling routes. These vulnerabilities offer opportunities to foreign terrorist groups, but there have been no cases of terrorist groups exploiting these gaps to move operations through the region.

As has been the case for decades, transnational criminal organizations posed the most significant threat to the region, demanding the majority of attention from law enforcement and intelligence resources. Corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or non-existent legislation, and a general lack of resources likewise remained obstacles to improving security. Nevertheless, some Western Hemisphere countries made significant progress in their counterterrorism efforts in 2017.

In addition to its financial and fundraising activities in the Western Hemisphere, Hizballah also maintained interest in the region during 2017. A Hizballah operative was arrested by the FBI in the United States in June 2017. Among other accusations, he was allegedly involved in surveilling U.S. and Israeli targets in Panama. And according to early 2017 media reporting, the Bolivian security services previously uncovered and disrupted a Hizballah cache of explosive precursors in the La Paz area. The Peruvian government’s prosecution of a Hizballah member arrested in 2015 is still ongoing, with the Peruvians successfully appealing a ruling acquitting this operative of terrorism charges.

The Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia continued to make progress in normalizing relations after reaching a historic agreement to end their five‑decade conflict in late 2016. In 2017, the Colombian government began formal peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army, agreeing to a ceasefire towards the end of the year. Peru’s Shining Path terrorist group remained active, but with reduced strength, and focused mostly on criminal activities in the remote Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valleys in eastern Peru.

The free trade zones in Panama and the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay remained regional nodes for money laundering and were vulnerable to terrorist financing.

In 2017, the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) focused programs and activities on border security, legislative assistance to combat terrorist financing, and critical infrastructure and resilience. The 17th CICTE Regular Session took place in April in Washington, D.C.; delegations from 28 OAS member states attended to discuss terrorist financing and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Leaders of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) adopted a regional arrest warrant treaty, an asset sharing (forfeiture) agreement, and model CARICOM counterterrorism legislation at their July 4, 2017 Summit. Recognizing the potential threat posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters, home-grown terrorism, and the vulnerability of its tourist industry, CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security prepared its first-ever counterterrorism strategy, which will be adopted by heads of government after a final review in 2018. Together these efforts raise the profile of terrorism as a security concern in the region and provide a solid base for strengthening the region’s ability to combat terrorism.

The United States collaborated with both Canada and Mexico to protect our shared borders through regular exchanges of intelligence and other information.


ARGENTINA

Overview: During 2017, Argentina consolidated plans to redefine its counterterrorism strategy with a focus on its remote northern and northeastern borders, which include the Tri-Border Area where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet, and where suspected terrorism financing networks operate. Robust U.S.-Argentine law enforcement and security cooperation continued in 2017. While no terrorist acts occurred in Argentina during 2017, five Argentine nationals were among the random victims of the October 31 terrorist attack perpetrated by a lone actor in New York.

The UN Executive Director for the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate visited Argentina in 2017 to evaluate Argentina’s legislative efforts to combat terrorism.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2017, the Government of Argentina proposed changes to the penal code to reform its counterterrorism legal framework. The proposed legislation would include penal system reforms, a new approach to combating terrorism financing, and a modernization of security and intelligence capabilities. The 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) remained in the news and prompted a separate proposal to reform the penal code by incorporating trials in absentia as a mechanism to prosecute fugitives. In December 2017, an Argentine federal judge issued pre-trial detention orders for former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and several former associates accused of treason for allegedly covering up Iran’s involvement in the AMIA attack.

Multiple security agencies maintained specialized law enforcement units that have substantial capabilities to respond to criminal activities, including terrorist incidents. The Government of Argentina established a Counter Narcotics Task Force in Salta Province composed of the four Argentine federal law enforcement agencies and provincial forces. As a result of its success, the Ministry of Security (MOS) created a second task force focused on the northeastern provinces covering the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.

Throughout 2017, the Argentine National Directorate for Migration (DNM) improved its capacity to use Advance Passenger Information to identify known or suspected terrorists attempting to enter Argentina via commercial carrier.

By deploying additional technology, personnel, and equipment, the Argentine MOS improved its law enforcement capacity at high-risk ports of entry along its northern border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program further contributed to these efforts through the donation of contraband inspection kits to Argentine Customs officials at the Posadas, Aguas Blancas, and La Quiaca ports of entry. In June, officers from the Argentine Gendarmeria Nacional and Argentine Customs joined their Brazilian counterparts in a four-day International Border Interdiction Seminar sponsored by CBP and EXBS.

Partly in support of the Preventing and Combating Serious Crime agreement signed in 2016 by the MOS and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, MOS and its federal security forces worked to incorporate biometric data into their fight against international terrorism and transnational crime. The MOS incorporated biometrics into its security vetting process to prevent known or suspected terrorists from exploiting its immigration system.

Argentina continued its participation in courses at the International Law Enforcement Academy in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Argentina is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), as well as the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a FATF-style regional body. Argentina held the presidency of the FATF from July 2017 through the end of the year; its presidency expires June 30, 2018. Its Financial Information Unit (UIF) is a member of the Egmont Group. Recent reforms have empowered the UIF to act as the lead agency on all financial intelligence matters.

In 2017, Argentine Customs fully re-established its Trade Transparency Unit in partnership with DHS, strengthening Argentina’s ability to identify and disrupt trade-based money laundering, smuggling, and other transnational crimes linked to terrorist financing. The Ministry of Security and Homeland Security Investigations co-hosted the country’s first-ever Transnational Financial Investigations Seminar, which was attended by 50 participants from more than a dozen Argentine law enforcement, border security, judiciary, and prosecutorial agencies involved in combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Argentina’s UIF participated in a June fact-finding mission to gather information on financial activities and illicit finance risks in the Tri-Border Area encompassing Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; and Foz do Iguazu, Brazil. This was a joint project with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Argentine, Brazilian, and Paraguayan financial intelligence units, and the Argentine and Paraguayan Central Banks, and supervisory authorities.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Argentina has systematically issued statements of condemnation against major acts of terrorism.

International and Regional Cooperation: The Government of Argentina and the United Nations (UN) Office of Counter-Terrorism signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which the UN pledged its support for Argentina’s ongoing efforts to adjust its penal code to comply with “international standards on cyberterrorism and terrorist financing.” Argentina participated in the Organization of American States Inter-American Committee against Terrorism 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.

In February 2017, Argentina hosted a Practitioner’s Workshop on Countering Transnational Terrorist Groups in the Tri-Border Area. The conference was hosted by the Argentine Federal Intelligence Agency with the sponsorship of the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. The two‑day workshop included prosecutors, judges, law enforcement investigators, financial intelligence/sanctions officials, and intelligence officials from the region.


BRAZIL

Overview: Brazil and the United States maintained strong counterterrorism cooperation in 2017, building on collaborative efforts the previous year during the lead up to the 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazilian officials increased public attention to the issue. The Brazilian Federal Police (DPF), Brazil’s lead counterterrorism agency, worked closely with the United States and other nations’ law enforcement entities to assess and mitigate potential terrorist threats. The Brazilian government continued to support counterterrorism activities, which included third‑country technical assistance for controlling sensitive technologies and investigating fraudulent travel documents.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no major changes since 2016 in counterterrorism legislation or in the division of responsibility among agencies tasked with counterterrorism efforts.

On May 4, Brazil handed down its first convictions under counterterrorism Law 13.260, sentencing eight Brazilian citizens to between five and 15 years of imprisonment for “promoting ISIS and terrorist acts” through social media. The convictions were related to 2016’s Operation Hashtag, which dismantled a loose, online, pro-ISIS network prior to the Olympics, the first arrests under the law.

On October 10, the DPF made its second counterterrorism arrest, taking into custody an individual with alleged online links to ISIS.

Brazil shares vast international borders with 10 countries and many of its borders are porous. Irregular migration with Brazil often serving as a transit country is a problem, especially by aliens that raise terrorist concerns from areas with a potential nexus to terrorism. Brazil increased its focus on border security in 2017 as part of an overall National Public Security Plan, largely out of concerns about the growing problem of transnational organized crime. On October 30, in the border state of Acre, 20 state governors and the Ministers of Defense, Justice, Institutional Security, and Foreign Relations signed an accord to establish a National Public Security System to address border security in an integrated fashion between state and federal authorities. Brazil also increased cooperation and information sharing with neighboring nations on border issues. A new immigration law took effect in November, but aside from reaffirming the importance of border security, it did not have a specific terrorism focus.

All law enforcement agencies, including those tasked with border security and counterterrorism, continued to suffer in 2017 from budget constraints caused by the deepest economic decline in Brazil’s history. These effects were particularly acute at major ports of entry, including air, sea, and land borders.

Brazilian authorities continued to work with other concerned nations – particularly the United States – to counter document fraud. Regional and international joint operations successfully disrupted a number of document vendors and facilitators, as well as related human-smuggling networks. The Department of State provided comprehensive and ongoing counterfeit and fraudulent document recognition training to airline and border police units through its Investigations Program. The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and Customs and Border Protection have trained Brazilian airline employees on identifying fraudulent documents.

The U.S.-Brazil Container Security Initiative (CSI) in Santos, which began in 2005, operated throughout 2017. The CSI was designed to increase security for container cargo shipped to the United States. Similarly, the National Civil Aviation Agency, DPF, and Brazilian Customs continued to work with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to make modifications to Brazil’s National Cargo Security Program to obtain TSA recognition of commensurability for cargo security procedures, training, and operations at Brazil’s international airports.

The Brazilian Army continued to implement an Integrated Border Monitoring System to monitor the country’s borders using a combination of personnel, cameras, sensors, and satellites. The strategic initiative is underway in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul with intention to cover the entire Brazilian border by 2021.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Brazil is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a FATF-style regional body. Its financial intelligence unit, the Council for Financial Activities Control, is a member of the Egmont Group. While it has made progress mitigating the shortcomings identified in its third round mutual evaluation report (MER) from 2010, Brazil continued work to address the remaining deficiencies, most notably its domestic designation framework.

On January 31, 2017, Brazil issued two implementing regulations for Laws 13.170 and 13.260 to address gaps in its countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) regime, specifically allowing for domestic terrorism designations and facilitating international cooperation on terrorism investigations. Despite this progress, in its 14th follow-up report to the 2010 MER, FATF noted deficiencies remained with the CFT regime in terms of full compliance with FATF standards. In response to FATF’s observations, Brazil committed to an action plan for addressing the remaining deficiencies. As part of the plan, the Brazilian government has drafted new legislation with a target for adoption by June 2018.

Brazil’s financial intelligence unit (FIU) participated in a June fact-finding mission to gather information on financial activities and illicit finance risks in the Tri-Border Area encompassing Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; and Foz do Iguazu, Brazil. This was a joint project with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Argentine, Brazilian, and Paraguayan financial intelligence units, and the Argentine and Paraguayan Central Banks, and supervisory authorities.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Brazil consistently issued statements of condemnation for terrorist acts around the world. The Senate and various government agencies, including the DPF and Ministry of Foreign Relations, also organized or participated in numerous conferences addressing international terrorism, with a particular emphasis on countering online radicalization to violence and preventing the use of the internet for terrorist purposes.

International and Regional Cooperation: Brazil participated in regional counterterrorism fora, including the Organization of American States and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), the BRICS Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism (with Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and the working group on terrorism and sub-working group on financial issues of the Southern Common Market. Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay coordinated law enforcement efforts in the Tri-Border Area via their Trilateral Tri-Border Area Command.

In February 2017, Brazil participated in a Practitioner’s Workshop on Countering Transnational Terrorist Groups in the Tri-Border Area. The conference was hosted by the Argentine Federal Intelligence Agency with the sponsorship of the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. The two‑day workshop included prosecutors, judges, law enforcement investigators, financial intelligence and sanctions officials, and intelligence officials from the region.

In September, Brazil hosted an international OAS CICTE training event focused on preventing illegal and terrorist use of the internet in Sao Paulo.


CANADA

Overview: Canada experienced minimal terrorist activity in 2017. The main external terrorist threats to Canada are from terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qa’ida and their sympathizers, while the main internal threat is from lone actors inspired by these groups and ideologies. By the end of 2017, approximately 180 Canadian citizens or permanent residents had traveled abroad to engage in terrorist activity in Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS and approximately 60 have since returned to Canada. The government has policies and legislation to counter these threats and worked to address the radicalization of its citizens to violence.

The United States worked closely throughout the year with Canada to identify and develop new capabilities that meet a wide variety of requirements for countering terrorist threats. Through a cost-sharing bilateral relationship, both countries advanced their technical ability to defeat or mitigate the evolving capabilities of terrorists and criminal organizations. Canada is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: Canada experienced three terrorist incidents in 2017:

  • On January 29, Alexandre Bissonnette entered and opened fire on an Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, killing six people and injuring 19 others. The assailant was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder. Canada’s prime minister classified the mass shooting as a terrorist attack.
  • On June 3, Rehab Dughmosh, a Toronto-area Syrian-born Canadian woman, allegedly attacked several people with a golf club at a Canadian Tire store in Scarborough, Ontario and brandished a large knife from her clothes. Police laid terrorist-related charges against Dughmosh (32) in July, including attempted murder for the benefit of or in association with a terrorist group.
  • On September 30, Abdulahi Sharif allegedly stabbed one police constable outside a local football game in Edmonton, Alberta and then hit four pedestrians with a truck, in which an ISIS flag was found. A Somalian national and refugee, Sharif (30) was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in California in 2011 and subsequently released with an “order of supervision.” He crossed into Canada in January 2012, where he claimed asylum and was later granted refugee status.

Also, on June 21, Amor Ftouhi, a Tunisian-born Canadian resident of Montreal, Quebec, stabbed a U.S. police officer at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan. During the attack, Ftouhi made reference to killings in Syria and Afghanistan. He was awaiting trial in Detroit, Michigan at the end of 2017.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2017, the following legislative activity impacting the investigation or prosecution of terrorism offenses occurred:

  • C-6 (“An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act”) was enacted by the Parliament and received Royal Assent (the final legislative stage) in June. The law repealed conviction for a national security offense as grounds to revoke the citizenship of Canadians with dual nationality.
  • C-22 (“An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians”) was enacted by the Parliament and received Royal Assent in June. The law authorized a new parliamentary oversight body to oversee the activity of federal national security and intelligence agencies across government. The Act also allowed the Parliament to review the legislative, regulatory, policy, administrative, and financial framework for national security and intelligence.
  • C-23 (“Preclearance Act, 2016”) was passed by the Parliament and received Royal Assent in December. It will not go into force immediately, but at a date to be determined by the cabinet.

Canada conducted numerous law enforcement actions against terrorists and terrorist groups over the past year, the most significant of which were:

  • In January, Tevis Gonyou-McLean agreed to the terms of a peace bond, including that he wear a GPS ankle bracelet for 12 months. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police had arrested Gonyou-McLean in August 2016, following a tip-off that he had threatened to “avenge the death” of ISIS supporter Aaron Driver two days earlier. Gonyou-McLean was subsequently re-arrested in November for breaching the bond’s conditions.
  • In September, Ismail Habib received a nine-year prison sentence after being found guilty in June of attempting to travel to Syria to participate in terrorist activity. Habib was the first adult in Canada convicted of attempting to leave Canada to join ISIS.
  • In October, Kevin Omar Mohamed was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of terrorist activity in June. Mohamed was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon and for possession of a weapon dangerous to public peace on March 26, 2016; on March 29, 2016 he was charged with participating in the activity of a terrorist group over a two-year period.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Canada is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. Canada’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) is a member of the Egmont Group. In June 2017, amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act came into force that strengthened Canada’s anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance regime and improved compliance. These amendments expanded FINTRAC’s ability to disclose information to police, the Canada Border Services Agency, and provincial securities regulators. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): On June 26, Public Safety Canada officially launched the Center for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence with a budget of C$35 million (US $26.7 million) over five years and C$10 million (US $8 million) annually thereafter to counter radicalization to violence. In addition, the city of Montreal is a founding member of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: Canada prioritizes collaboration with international partners to counter terrorism and regularly seeks opportunities to lead. Canada makes major contributions to the Global Counterterrorism Forum (in which it co-chairs the Capacity-Building in the West Africa Region), the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), the Global Initiative to Counter Nuclear Terrorism, and the G-7 Roma-Lyon Group. Global Affairs Canada maintains a Counterterrorism Capacity Building program, which provides training, funding, equipment, and technical and legal assistance to nations, enabling them to prevent and respond to a broad spectrum of terrorist activity.


COLOMBIA

Overview: Colombia experienced a continued decrease in terrorist activity in 2017, due in large part to the November 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The UN ended the disarmament phase of its monitoring and verification mission on September 25, collecting 8,994 arms, 1.7 million rounds, and more than 40 tons of explosives. The Government of Colombia accredited roughly 11,000 ex-combatants for transition to civilian life. There were challenges implementing the peace accord, however, and a small number of dissident groups rejected the process. Reports confirmed some of these groups continued extortion and illicit activities.

Peace talks between the Colombian government and the other major terrorist organization active in the country, the National Liberation Army (ELN), continued. In an effort to generate trust between parties, the government and ELN agreed to a three-month ceasefire, beginning October 1, which was the first such agreement during the 50-year conflict. ELN kidnappings, forced displacements, and attacks on the military, civilian population, and critical infrastructure dropped dramatically since October, with only one confirmed ceasefire violation. Nevertheless, ELN attacks spiked in rural and border regions prior to the ceasefire, and local communities reported ELN-related extortion and displacement continued even after the ceasefire.

Overall, the number of dissident FARC and ELN individuals who were either killed or captured decreased compared to 2016, while individual desertions increased. Civilian deaths caused by terrorism continued to fall nationwide. Colombian-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation remained strong and Colombia has openly condemned ISIS and its objectives.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: Colombian government statistics showed a 40 percent decrease in terrorist incidents from 2016. This does not include incidents related to organized criminal groups. FARC dissident groups have conducted a small number of attacks on security forces and civilians.[1]

Prior to the October 1 ceasefire, the ELN continued low-cost, high-impact asymmetric attacks. An explosive device was detonated June 17 in the Andino Mall in Bogotá, killing three and injuring 10. The Colombian National Police (CNP) believe the People’s Revolutionary Movement – a relatively new violent group with ideological connections to the ELN – was responsible. An investigation led to the capture of nine suspected perpetrators. Among 2017 attacks, several others were notable for their severity or press coverage:

  • The ELN claimed responsibility for a February 19 attack in the La Macarena neighborhood in Bogotá in which a police officer was killed.
  • On September 30, three police officers were killed in Miranda, Cauca department, in an attack believed to have been conducted by FARC dissidents.
  • In September, just before the October 1 ceasefire, the ELN carried out a series of attacks on the Caño Limon-Covenas oil pipeline in Norte de Santander and Arauca departments. In 2017, there were 45 attacks on the pipeline prior to the ceasefire.
  • On October 25, members of the ELN claimed responsibility for killing an indigenous leader in Choco department. The ELN later acknowledged it was a ceasefire violation.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There have been no changes to terrorism-related legislation and investigation procedures since 2016. Colombian authorities continued to operate joint police-military task forces to enhance coordination in countering terrorism.

The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs supported the U.S. Department of Justice, through its International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), to continue to work with the Attorney General’s Office and other agencies to improve standards for investigators, forensic experts, and criminal analysts. In 2017, ICITAP trained more than 160 wire communication analysts. In addition, at the request of the CNP criminal investigation unit, ICITAP began working with the National Police Cyber Center to achieve accreditation.

Colombian border security remained an area of 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 drug trafficking. The CNP lacked the personnel to enforce uniform policies for vehicle or passenger inspections at land crossings. Biometric and biographic screening was conducted only at international airports. The Colombian government uses Advance Passenger Information but does not collect Passenger Name Record data. Of its 184,000 officers, the CNP has 2,202 working on customs enforcement activities.

Colombia remained a transit point for the smuggling of third-country nationals who may seek to enter the United States illegally. In 2017, economic challenges in Venezuela contributed to the migration of 660,000 Venezuelans, roughly half of whom entered Colombia illegally, according to Colombia’s immigration authority. While the authority regularly detained third-country nationals who entered the country illegally, it lacked the personnel, enforcement power, and resources to respond to possible threats and repatriate migrants.

There were no significant changes since 2016 in cooperation on border security, evidence sharing, and joint law enforcement operations with neighboring countries. Law enforcement cooperation between Colombia and the United States remained strong.

In 2017, security forces captured or killed a number of high-value dissident FARC and ELN targets wanted for homicide, narcotics trafficking, and forced displacement.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Colombia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Colombia’s Financial Information and Analysis Unit is a member of the Egmont Group. There were no significant changes in countering the financing of terrorism since 2016. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The peace accord with the FARC initiated a disarmament, demobilization, and reincorporation process that allowed 11,000 ex-combatants and militia members to disarm. The accord’s reincorporation council continues to determine protocols and institutional arrangements for reincorporation of ex-combatants. The Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN), formerly the Colombian Reintegration Agency (ACR), is the implementing arm of this process. Delays in implementing the program, caused by the refusal of FARC leadership to permit members to actively and effectively participate, increased the prospects that some ex-combatants would return to engaging in criminal activities.

Colombia continued to employ a modern, multi-agency approach to CVE, with a focus on encouraging individual guerrillas to demobilize. In 2017, the number of ex-combatants successfully graduating from the ARN’s individual program (separate from those demobilized as a result of the accord with the FARC) reached more than 18,960. The number of FARC and ELN members who demobilized individually increased from 704 to 827. The city of Medellin is a founding member of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: There have been no significant changes to Colombia’s international and regional security cooperation since 2016. Colombia is a founding member of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and continues to lead in providing security training and assistance to other countries in the region. In 2017, Colombia conducted more than 400 security trainings for thousands of non‑Colombian individuals on citizen security, crime prevention and monitoring, military and police capacity building, anti-kidnapping, anti-extortion, hostage negotiation, and cyber-security.


MEXICO

Overview: Counterterrorism cooperation between Mexico and the United States remained strong in 2017. Improved information sharing regarding migrant populations constituted a major step forward. At year’s end there was no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States. The U.S. southern border remains vulnerable to potential terrorist transit, although terrorist groups likely seek other means of trying to enter the United States.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no changes since 2016 in Mexico’s legal system as it pertains to counterterrorism, other than those described under the terrorist financing section.

Mexico’s southern border is porous. Under the Merida Initiative, the Mexican and U.S. governments launched several projects designed to increase border security, including the first stages of construction of a telecommunications system for law enforcement and mentoring and training for immigration officials. The two governments also collaborate to improve airport security at last departure point airports to the United States. The United States partnered with Mexico to create an information-sharing system for Mexico that will vastly improve Mexico’s ability to partner with U.S. law enforcement to prevent terrorism and other illegal activity.

Challenges for law enforcement and border security include corruption and insufficient inter‑agency communication. Also, many prosecutors and judges have not yet mastered navigation of the new criminal justice system. Improvements in nation-wide police professionalization are occurring through the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ program to assess, train, certify, and accredit police officers and institutions at state and federal levels. These efforts aim to improve the likelihood of criminal prosecutions and convictions. Mexican migration officials’ resources were stretched thin and funding for repatriations by air was severely limited.

The Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance training included two iterations of Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, which focused on securing physical and cyber critical infrastructures against the threats of terrorism and natural disasters. The trainings additionally demonstrated methods of building proactive community partnerships, recognizing pre-attack indications through surveillance detection, and understanding the physical effects of explosives.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Mexico is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the Financial Action Task force of Latin America, a FATF-style regional body (FSRB). Mexico has observer or cooperating status in FSRBs: the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures. Mexico’s financial intelligence unit (FIU), Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera, is a member of the Egmont Group and proactively shares financial intelligence on shared threats with its U.S. counterpart, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Mexico recently underwent its fourth round FATF mutual evaluation. In October, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled the FIU’s freezing of accounts in one specific case violated constitutional protections including due process rights. The ruling only impacted one entity’s frozen accounts, but other similarly affected entities have already filed cases in Mexican federal court. Once four more cases reach the same conclusion at the Supreme Court level (or if the entire Supreme Court bench similarly rules on one case) then the initial ruling will become binding precedent. The FIU can continue to freeze accounts under the current legal framework, but that power may end soon barring a legislative fix. Given that law enforcement and judicial authorities have struggled to investigate and prosecute financial crimes, this development may hamper the government’s ability to fight potential terrorist financing until a legislative or procedural fix can be implemented. Mexico was in the process in 2017 of drafting an amendment to their domestic sanctions legislation to address the Supreme Court’s finding. Mexico’s Finance Ministry has emphasized the ruling does not impact its authority to block accounts associated with UN sanctions, nor impact banks that voluntarily comply with the Office of Foreign Asset Control Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List. Many Mexican banks made progress in 2017 in terms of training on SDN List implementation.

Mexico lacks workable asset forfeiture laws. The lower chamber of Congress passed amendments to improve the legal framework, including an effort to lower high standards for burden of proof, but the amendments remain pending with the Mexican Senate.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): There have been no changes since 2016 other than Mexico’s presentation of a successfully adopted resolution at the UN Human Rights Council encouraging protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

International and Regional Cooperation: Mexico participates in the Organization of American States Inter-American Committee against Terrorism and is also a member of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.


PANAMA

Overview: Panama’s air travel infrastructure combined with its financial infrastructure – it is the second largest free trade zone in the world – along with its canal and geographic location, make Panama a key transit hub, but also attracts a fair share of illicit travel. For instance, in 2017 more than 8,000 migrants entered Panama illegally. To ensure domestic and regional security, Panamanian authorities continued to work with the U.S. government to detain and repatriate individuals for whom there were elevated suspicions of links to terrorism.

The Darien jungle is a well-known smuggling route and represents a potential vulnerability that terrorist groups could exploit. Panamanian security, immigration, and intelligence authorities have greatly improved their ability to operate in the Darien region, effectively exercising control over the sparsely populated terrain, and increasing situational awareness and coordination among government agencies.

While the conclusion of the Colombian Peace Process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has reduced the threat of the FARC itself in the Darien, transnational criminal organizations still use old FARC routes for illicit transit of travelers that raise terrorist concerns and contraband goods. Building on previous cooperation with its neighbors, Panama conducted a series of targeted operations with Colombia and Costa Rica in an effort to secure its borders against illicit migration and illicit narcotics trafficking.

Panama is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and remained involved in the Coalition’s Counter-Finance working group.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Panama does not have comprehensive counterterrorism legislation or a robust counterterrorism legal framework. Officials from the National Security Council, the border service, the immigration service, and the police meet frequently amongst themselves and with U.S. government officials to coordinate and act on migration alerts and detain and deport travelers who may represent a security risk.

In May 2017, President Varela signed Executive Decree 81, which was Panama’s first step toward implementing controls over dual-use goods. The decree created a committee and sub‑committee charged with its implementation, including a licensing regime, protocols for classification, verification, and end-use analysis. In addition, in April 2017 the president signed Executive Decree 129, which endorsed the National Interagency Plan for the Prevention and Response to Threats or Incidents involving Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear, Explosive Weapons and their Delivery Systems under the direction of the National Security Council.

Separately, the lack of funding for maintenance of non-intrusive inspection equipment operated by the National Customs Authority has led to a sharp decrease in cargo scans in 2017. This has significantly reduced interdiction efforts at key inspection stations, as demonstrated by reduced numbers of inspections and seizures. This reduction in capability limits the government’s ability to analyze cargo transiting the country, including at the international airport and entry and exit of the Colon free trade zone.

A key focus of counterterrorism efforts in Panama is the enhanced screening of individuals entering Panama’s borders, including through Darien foot routes, airports, and seaports. Panama, through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert program, collaborates with its regional partners to enhance risk-based traveler screening and migration and criminal databases. Mobile security teams, including those operating under the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Joint Security Program, partnered with Mexican law enforcement officers at Tocumen International Airport to identify air passengers linked to terrorism, narcotics, weapons, and currency smuggling, as well as to intercept fugitives, persons associated with organized crime, and other travelers of interest.

Panama cooperated with U.S. law enforcement on various counterterrorism cases this year, including individuals linked to Hizballah.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Panama served as vice-president of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT) in 2017 and will assume the GAFILAT presidency in 2018. Panama’s financial intelligence unit, Financial Analysis Unit Panama, is a member of the Egmont Group.

Panama conducted a national risk evaluation in 2017 to identify the sectors most vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing. The results of the evaluation were used to prepare a national strategy in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund, the National Strategy to Combat Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing and WMD Proliferation. This national strategy recognizes that while the terrorism risk in Panama is relatively low, its financial sector could be vulnerable to terrorist financing without the proper safeguards.

In February 2017, the Securities Market Superintendency implemented stricter Know Your Customer regulations including a requirement for the subscriber to provide identity, bank reference, beneficiary declaration, and origin of funds documentation.

Panama’s Merchant Marine Ship Registry de-flagged vessels linked to sanctionable trade as outlined in UN resolutions and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. Panama has yet to identify and freeze assets belonging to terrorists or sanctioned individuals and organizations. It has not prosecuted terrorist financing cases.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): There have been no changes since the 2016 report.

International and Regional Cooperation: Panama is an active participant in the United Nations and regional security initiatives such as the Organization of American States Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (OAS-CICTE). Panama has held the presidency of the OAS-CICTE since March 2017. During the 17th CICTE Session in April 2017, members adopted a declaration to strengthen national financial systems in an effort to prevent terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


PARAGUAY

Overview: In 2017, the Government of Paraguay continued to be a receptive partner on counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. Paraguay’s challenges stem from ineffective immigration, customs, and law enforcement controls along its porous borders, particularly the Tri-Border Area (TBA) with Argentina and Brazil, and its dry border with Brazil from the TBA to Pedro Juan Caballero.

Since 2008, persons claiming to be part of the Paraguayan People’s Army (known by its Spanish acronym EPP) – a domestic criminal group initially dedicated to a socialist revolution in Paraguay – have been involved in violence meant to extort and intimidate the population and local governments in the northern departments of Concepcion, San Pedro, and Amambay. Paraguayan authorities officially consider the EPP and its offshoots organized criminal groups rather than terrorist organizations, but public discourse of Paraguayan leaders occasionally refers to the EPP informally as a terrorist organization. The Government of Paraguay believes the EPP is a small, decentralized group of between 20 and 50 members. EPP and offshoot groups’ activities have consisted largely of isolated attacks on remote police and army posts, or against ranchers and peasants accused of aiding Paraguayan security forces. Ranchers and ranch workers in northeastern Paraguay, including members of the Mennonite community, claimed the EPP frequently threatened both their livelihoods and personal security. As of December 12, authorities believe the EPP held four hostages, while the offshoot Mariscal Lopez’s Army (known by its Spanish acronym EML) held one. The longest-held victim has been in captivity since 2014. The EPP released farmer Franz Wiebe on February 25 after 214 days in captivity.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: The EPP continued to conduct kidnappings, killings, and sabotage operations:

  • On March 17, EPP members kidnapped a farmer, burned his vehicle, and later released him near Colonia Rio Verde in Santa Rosa del Aguaray.
  • On April 17, EPP members kidnapped and killed Estancia Santa Adelia worker, Fabio Ramon Duarte Candia.
  • On April 26, authorities found an alleged EPP murder victim, Davalos Galeano at Estancia Ka’aguy Poty, Cuero Fresco, Arroyito.
  • On August 21, EPP members ambushed and kidnapped 32-year old Mexican national Franz Hieber Wieler at the Estancia San Eduardo, San Pedro Department. In addition to setting fire to the tractor Wieler was operating, the band of five attackers left behind a pamphlet with EPP propaganda.
  • On September 1, alleged EPP members intercepted a vehicle near the La Yeyaa Mennonite colony in Amambay Department and took 22-year old Bernhard Blatz Friessen hostage.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Paraguayan government continued to make use of a 2013 counterterrorism law that allows for the domestic deployment of the Paraguayan military to counter internal or external threats. The Paraguayan National Police (PNP) Secretariat for the Prevention and Investigation of Terrorism officially handles counterterrorism functions, although other PNP units and agencies such as the National Anti‑Drug Secretariat work such cases as well, particularly when related to drug trafficking. Military forces and police officials continued to operate jointly in the San Pedro, Concepcion, and Amambay departments against the EPP, with limited success.

On September 18, President Cartes signed the Seized and Forfeited Asset Management law. The law establishes a National Secretariat of Seized and Confiscated Assets to administer confiscated property and assets associated with criminal activity, such as terrorist financing.

On October 18, Paraguayan authorities arrested 61-year old Genaro Meza, the alleged EPP caretaker of hostage Franz Wiebe. Prosecutors charged Meza with terrorism, terrorist association, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, and aggravated extortion.

On November 24, Brazilian and Paraguayan authorities apprehended two alleged EPP leaders in Brazil and charged them with murder and kidnapping. The suspects had been on the run since 2004. Paraguayan prosecutors continued to work with their Brazilian counterparts to extradite the suspects to Paraguay for trial.

With the help of U.S. counterparts, Paraguayan law enforcement officials arrested multiple Lebanese Hizballah-linked suspects in the Ciudad del Este area who were engaged in money laundering and drug trafficking activities, some with links to the United States.

The TBA has been attractive to individuals engaged in terrorist financing, as the minimal, and often corrupt, police and military presence along these borders allows for a largely unregulated flow of people, goods, and money. Paraguay’s efforts to provide more effective law enforcement and border security suffered from a lack of interagency cooperation and information sharing, as well as 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 Latin America (GAFILAT), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Paraguay’s Financial Intelligence Unit is a member of the Egmont Group. Paraguay continued its preparations for a GAFILAT mutual evaluation, scheduled for January 2019. Paraguay has counterterrorist financing legislation and the ability to freeze and confiscate terrorist assets immediately. FATF experts noted Paraguay possesses an adequate legal framework but falls short on implementation. In particular, government agencies struggled to coordinate effectively to detect, deter, and prosecute money laundering and terrorism financing.

The Paraguayan government registers and has reporting requirements for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including non-profit organizations, and mandates that NGOs set up internal monitoring and training to guard against criminal or terrorist financing. Paraguay also requires the collection of data for wire transfers. Despite these mechanisms, government agencies’ efforts to enforce anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing laws were lacking.

Paraguay’s Central Bank and financial intelligence unit participated in a June fact-finding mission to gather information on financial activities and illicit finance risks in the Tri-Border Area encompassing Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; and Foz do Iguazu, Brazil. This was a joint project with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Argentine and Brazilian FIUs, the Argentine and Paraguayan Central Banks, and supervisory authorities.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Paraguay had no CVE program in 2017.

International and Regional Cooperation: Paraguay participated in the Organization of American States and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE). It continued to collaborate with Argentina and Brazil on border security initiatives, regional exchanges, and law enforcement projects. Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay coordinated law enforcement efforts in the Tri-Border Area via their Trilateral Tri-Border Area Command. The Interior Ministers of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay met on November 27 to discuss cooperation on all these fronts.

In February 2017, Paraguay participated in a Practitioner’s Workshop on Countering Transnational Terrorist Groups in the Tri-Border Area. The conference was hosted by the Argentine Federal Intelligence Agency with the sponsorship of the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. The two-day workshop included prosecutors, judges, law enforcement investigators, financial intelligence/sanctions officials, and intelligence officials from the region.


PERU

Overview: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) operated in 2017 in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) – a remote and rugged region slightly larger than Tennessee that accounts for more than two-thirds of the cocaine produced in Peru. Estimates of SL’s strength vary, but most experts and the Peruvian security services assess SL to number 250 to 300 members of which 60 to 150 are armed fighters. Deadly SL attacks against Peru’s security forces in 2017 held steady compared to the previous year. In some instances, SL may have set ambushes in revenge for successful counternarcotic operations.

SL is involved in all logistical aspects of drug trafficking in its area of influence. It collects “revolutionary taxes” from those involved in the drug trade, and, for a price, provides security and transports narcotics for drug trafficking organizations. SL continued to use Maoist ideology to justify its illegal activities and armed opposition to the Peruvian government.

SL founder Abimael Guzmán and key accomplices remain in prison serving life sentences for numerous crimes committed in the 1980s and 1990s. Many former SL members and leaders have served 25 to 30 year sentences on terrorism charges. Several members were released from prison in 2017 and others are due to be released in the coming months and years. The Peruvian courts are re-trying 12 imprisoned SL leaders, including Guzman, for the 1992 Tarata Street bombing in Miraflores that killed 25 people. Guzmán and other captured SL figures from the 1980s and 1990s are no longer associated with the active SL group in the VRAEM emergency zone.

2017 Terrorist Incidents:

  • On March 13, SL snipers killed three Peruvian National Police officers in the VRAEM who were driving from the Palmapampa police base to the VRAEM Special Command base in Pichari.
  • On May 31, SL snipers killed two police officers on a rural road in Ayacucho’s Huanta province in the VRAEM.
  • On July 21, SL ambushed a police convoy in the VRAEM’s Llochegua district to free a local drug-trafficking leader. SL injured nine police officers and one prosecutor, but failed to free the captured drug-trafficker.
  • On September 6, the Ministry of Interior reported that SL operatives killed three police officers in Huancavelica’s Churcampa province, just outside the VRAEM. The police suspect the attack was connected to drug trafficking.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Over the past three decades, Peru has decreed a variety of laws specifically designed to counter terrorism. These measures have broad political and public support. On July 19, the Government of Peru amended its “terrorism apology” law, which prohibits making public statements that justify or defend terrorism. The amendments increase the punishment for publicly sympathizing with terrorism and lower the threshold to press charges. On November 4, Congress added a provision to Peru’s electoral code to prohibit Peruvians convicted of terrorism or supporting terrorism from running for public office.

The most significant Peruvian government actions against SL this year were:

  • On July 26, the police arrested David Bazan Arévalo, the provincial mayor of Tocache, on terrorist financing charges. He allegedly financed a Shining Path operation in June 2007 to assassinate a prosecutor and three police officers, who were investigating his links to drug trafficking.
  • In early October, the Government of Peru launched a joint military-police operation, code-named Tenaz, in the VRAEM. The operation resulted in two confirmed Shining Path deaths, eight unconfirmed dead or wounded, and 13 drug traffickers arrested.
  • In December, the police and military captured three alleged SL terrorists, one of whom is the son of “Alipio,” a SL leader killed in 2013. The MOI believes these three individuals may have carried out ambushes against the PNP in Ayacucho and Huancavelica.

The Minister of Defense announced on August 2 the formation of a 400-strong joint police and military unit focused on targeting the Shining Path and pacifying the VRAEM.

On border security, immigration authorities collected limited biometrics information from visitors. Citizens of South American countries were allowed to travel to Peru by land using only national identification cards. There was no visa requirement for citizens of most countries from Europe, Southeast Asia, and Central America (except El Salvador and Nicaragua).

In October 2014, Peruvian police arrested Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, a Lebanese citizen suspected of links to Hizballah. According to reports, there was residue and traces of explosives in Hamdar’s apartment. On April 20, a Peruvian court acquitted Hamdar of terrorism charges, but sentenced him to six years in prison for using false documents. On October 20, the Peruvian Supreme Court overturned Hamdar’s acquittal. He remains in custody with a retrial scheduled for early 2018.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Peru is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The Financial Intelligence Unit of Peru is a member of the Egmont Group. Under Decree Law 25475, Peru criminalizes any form of collaboration with terrorists, including providing financial support. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Peru stressed the importance of heavily investing in the VRAEM as a means of ending the relationship between VRAEM residents and SL. The Government of Peru allocated approximately US $523 million in the VRAEM in 2017 for economic development and pacification efforts.

International and Regional Cooperation: Peru participates in counterterrorism activities in international and regional organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization of American States and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, and the Union of South American Nations.


TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Overview: In November 2017, the Trinidad and Tobago National Security Council approved a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy. The strategy document focuses on deterring people from participating in or supporting terrorism, enhancing national counterterrorism operational capabilities, and building national resilience in the event of an attack. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago continued its broad counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, which included information sharing. In April, the Governments of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States signed a Memorandum of Intent to provide for the installation of the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) at certain points of entry in Trinidad and Tobago. Preparations for the PISCES installation were ongoing at the end of 2017.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has stated that approximately 135 people, including women and minors, have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS in the past few years. The threat from the possible return of foreign terrorist fighters remains a primary concern.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In February, the government proposed a bill to amend its existing Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA):

  • To criminalize terrorism-related actions both within Trinidad and Tobago and outside the country, the support of terrorism, or joining a terrorist organization or training with one;
  • To require citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to give notice of travel to conflict areas; and
  • To freeze the assets of those who commit a terrorist act, among other changes. The legislation lapsed before approval at the end of the last parliament session in September 2017, but the current government expects to reintroduce in 2018.

A lengthy judicial process can mean years before criminal prosecutions are resolved, and there has not been a conviction under the ATA to date. A number of new or amended laws and regulations to reform the criminal justice system, including codifying the practice of plea bargaining, improving access to bail, and new rules of criminal procedure, were adopted in 2017 to allow for more timely prosecutions.

In 2017, Trinidad and Tobago’s security agencies received increased counterterrorism training and equipment from the U.S. government. As a result, the government’s tactical ability to respond to terrorist threats increased significantly.

An interagency task force created in 2017 made progress in gathering terrorism-related intelligence and converting it into evidence that resulted in the designation of persons or entities involved in terrorism under the ATA. A committee was also created to examine issues relating to children and terrorism. Law enforcement agencies and the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force continue to face resource constraints, however.

In August 2017, pursuant to a proposal by Trinidad and Tobago, Shane Crawford, a Trinidad and Tobago national, was added to the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida Sanctions List. Since November 2015, approximately 350 individuals and entities, including six with a nexus to Trinidad and Tobago, have been designated under the ATA and a small amount of assets have been frozen. Trinidad and Tobago has also requested that other jurisdictions list certain nationals with a nexus to Trinidad and Tobago under their respective domestic regimes, where appropriate.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, and the Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the Egmont Group. Following its last FATF mutual evaluation in 2015, Trinidad and Tobago took a number of steps to address the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies identified in the evaluation. The FIU has increased the size of its analytical staff, enhanced its outreach to stakeholders regarding AML/CFT obligations, and participated in the Egmont Group ISIL project, among other steps. Nonetheless, in October 2017, FATF placed Trinidad and Tobago on its list of jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regimes, and will continue to review Trinidad and Tobago’s progress under its FATF action plan. With respect to CFT, the FATF-identified deficiencies relate to the need to implement its counterterrorism strategy and address the gaps identified in the ATA. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has not developed a national CVE strategy, although the counterterrorism strategy adopted in November 2017 includes some elements. Much progress has been through programs that address violence and gang prevention at large, which the government sees as a higher priority than terrorist recruitment. One such program is the creation of Police Youth Clubs, where local police engage with at-risk youth after school within their communities. These community engagements assist in addressing youth marginalization and isolation while curbing negative perceptions of law enforcement within at-risk communities.

In March, the city of Chaguanas joined the Strong Cities Network. Other cities, such as Rio Claro and San Fernando, have been eager to work with the United States to implement CVE programs within their communities.

International and Regional Cooperation: As a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the lead country with responsibility for crime and security, Trinidad and Tobago is working with other CARICOM member states to develop a regional counterterrorism strategy.


VENEZUELA

Overview: In May 2017, for the twelfth 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 country’s porous borders offered a permissive environment to known terrorist groups.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Venezuelan criminal code and other Venezuelan law explicitly criminalize terrorism and dictate procedures for prosecuting individuals engaged in terrorist activity. The government routinely levies accusations of “terrorism” against its political opponents.

Some Venezuelan military and civilian agencies perform counterterrorism functions. Within the Venezuelan armed forces, the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence and the Command Actions Group of the National Guard have primary counterterrorism duties. The Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and the Division of Counterterrorism Investigations in the Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigation Corps within the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace have primary civilian sector 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 was vulnerable and susceptible to corruption. The Venezuelan government routinely did not perform biographic or biometric screening at ports of entry or exit. There was no automated system to collect advance Passenger Name Record data on commercial flights or to cross-check flight manifests with passenger disembarkation data.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Venezuela is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and its National Financial Intelligence Unit is a member of the Egmont Group. Venezuela’s existing anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism legal and regulatory framework criminalizes the financing of terrorism and includes requirements to report transactions that qualify as suspicious under the statute. Significant deficiencies remained in the terrorist asset freezing regime, including a lack of adequate procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Venezuela had no CVE program in 2017.

International and Regional Cooperation: Previously, the Venezuelan government participated as official observers in peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. However, in 2017, President Maduro’s rhetoric was at times bellicose (on one occasion he referred to Colombia as a “failed state”) and served to heighten tensions between the two countries.


[1] The FARC remains a Foreign Terrorist Organization under the Immigration and Nationality Act. However, the Colombian government classifies FARC dissidents as criminals. While the ideological motivations of such groups and ongoing connections with demobilized FARC are unclear, we have included acts of violence by FARC dissidents in this report.