Overview: Nepal experienced no acts of international terrorism directed against U.S. targets in 2020. While 2020 saw many small incidents of politically motivated violence, most incidents targeted large-scale infrastructure, government offices, or locations affiliated with political parties or officials. The Government of Nepal attributed most of the attacks to the Communist Party of Nepal, a political faction better known as Biplav, led by Netra Bikram Chand and which split from the former mainstream Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) in 2014. Nepal’s security services continue to monitor the Biplav Group, an insurgent group that sometimes engages in politically motivated acts of violence to attempt to achieve its goals. Throughout the year, Biplav organized numerous nationwide protests, which were frequently accompanied by IED attacks and other forms of violence throughout Nepal. In 2021, both government and Biplav sources confirmed that they were in negotiations aimed at bringing Biplav back into the political process through its renunciation of violence. Because of the open border with India and insufficient security protocols at the country’s sole international airport in Kathmandu, Nepal has and could be used as a transit or staging point for international terrorists.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: Domestic incidents included small bombings in various locations throughout the country, for which authorities blamed the Biplav Group. None of these attacks were directed against U.S. targets. The attacks employed real, hoax, or small IEDs. In total, Embassy Kathmandu, with assistance from Nepali law enforcement contacts, attributed to Biplav an estimated 21 arson attacks, 13 IEDs, 3 hoax IEDs, two abductions, four physical attacks, and one targeted torture and murder in 2020.
- From January 1 through 28, Biplav targeted private mobile phone company Ncell, carrying out numerous arson and IED attacks on cell towers in the central region of Nepal as part of a nationwide protest. The attacks destroyed 12 cell towers.
- During the March-June COVID lockdown, although limited in abilities and movement, Biplav carried out approximately four IED attacks, including several hoax IEDs, primarily directed at political targets. It is widely assessed that the attacks were intended to intimidate political candidates and rally support among marginalized populations.
- A particularly notable incident was the recent kidnapping, torture, and murder of a local schoolteacher, on December 8 in southeastern Nepal, who was targeted by Biplav for being a police informant. This incident likely was intended as a message to the community that suspected collaborators will be dealt with harshly.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: During the first two weeks of November, the Nepal Police arrested 14 leaders of the group. On November 23, police arrested more than 40 people associated with Biplav’s seventh anniversary celebration in an apparent crackdown on the entity. Elsewhere in Nepal, security forces defused or destroyed numerous IEDs, discovered multiple hoax IEDs, and responded to arson attacks that damaged or destroyed eleven vehicles.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Nepal is a member of the APG, and Nepal’s Financial Intelligence Unit is a member of the Egmont Group. There were no significant changes to report in 2020.
Countering Violent Extremism: Nepal does not employ strategic communications to counter violent extremist ideology. There are no government or civil society programs in Nepal to counter recruitment into violent extremism or rehabilitate former violent extremists. The government generally does not view terrorism — specifically violence motivated by extremist ideology originating from conflict/instability in the Middle East — as a significant threat in Nepal. Nepal is largely infertile soil for violent extremism propagated by international terrorist organizations. A more significant threat is non-Nepali international terrorist groups using Nepal as a transit/staging point or soft target.
International and Regional Cooperation: Nepal is a signatory of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. INTERPOL hosts an annual regional counterterrorism seminar, to which the Nepal Police sends two to three officers.