Overview: After a five-year investigation, the Peruvian National Police (PNP) on December 2 conducted a major operation targeting alleged Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) front organizations, notably SL’s legal political branch called the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef). The PNP reportedly detained 77 people in raids across Lima that involved nearly 800 police and 100 prosecutors.
Virtual hearings in the terrorism trial against Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, a Lebanese citizen suspected of links to Hizballah, resumed July 22 after a COVID-19 hiatus. Hamdar was released from prison October 27 after completing a six-year sentence for document fraud but was barred from leaving Peru while his retrial is underway. If convicted, Hamdar would represent the first terrorism conviction of a Hizballah operative in South America.
Brian Eugenio Alvarado Huari, arrested for alleged links to ISIS in 2019 and plans to “attack foreigners,” was released from preventive detention late in 2019. However, the investigation is ongoing.
SL continued to operate in the Valleys of the Rivers Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM). Estimates vary, but most experts and Peruvian security services assess SL numbered between 250 and 300 members, including from 60 to as many as 150 armed fighters. SL collected “revolutionary taxes” from drug trafficking organizations operating in the area to support its terrorist activities.
Víctor Quispe Palomino (aka Comrade José), a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Most Wanted Fugitive, continued to lead the SL’s VRAEM’s remnants, which he called the Militarized Communist Party of Peru (MPCP). The son of an SL founder, Quispe Palomino allegedly oversees all MPCP illicit activities, including extortion, murder, and drug trafficking. A U.S. Department of State reward offers up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction, and the Department of Defense offers an additional $1 million for information leading to his capture.
SL founder Abimael Guzmán and key accomplices are serving life sentences for terrorism acts conducted in the 1980s and 1990s. A superior court on June 23 rejected a habeas corpus petition requesting Guzmán’s release from prison because of the risk of COVID-19 contagion. Guzmán and other captured SL figures from earlier years deny association with the SL’s VRAEM group.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: The overall number of terrorist attacks and deaths of security forces attributable to terrorism in Peru increased in 2020. Six terrorist incidents resulted in the deaths of seven security forces:
- On March 4, SL ambushed a joint police-military patrol, killing two SL deserters and wounding four officers.
- On July 20, SL killed a soldier in the district of Pucacolpa, in the VRAEM Ayacucho’s Huanta province.
- Also on July 20 the military reported three SL terrorists were killed after they fired on a helicopter patrolling Ayacucho’s Huanta province.
- On August 24, SL killed one soldier and one police officer during a combined police and military operation in Chachaspata, a town in the department of Ayacucho.
- On October 29, two soldiers and a police officer were killed during a joint military-police patrol when one of them stepped on a landmine that the Government of Peru later said had been placed by “terrorist criminals” in Ayacucho’s Huanta province in the VRAEM Emergency Zone.
- On December 21, SL attacked a joint Navy-National Police Hovercraft exercise from the banks of the Mantaro River in Junín’s Satipo province in the VRAEM, killing one police officer and injuring three others.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Peru has adopted multiple counterterrorism laws over the past 30 years. CT measures have broad public support. Enforcement of the COVID-19 national lockdown took a heavy toll on security forces. Nevertheless, joint military and police counterterrorism operations kept apace, including the following:
- On January 26 the military deployed more than 48,000 soldiers nationally to prevent terrorist acts during special congressional elections, although primary attention was on the VRAEM.
- On August 24, a joint police and military operation killed four SL fighters in Ayacucho’s La Mar province of the VRAEM, including “Comrade Cirilo,” a key figure in SL’s security network supporting drug traffickers.
- On October 9, military and police authorities held the first meeting of a newly integrated joint command of intelligence units to increase integration and coordination to fight terrorism and drug trafficking in the VRAEM.
Immigration authorities collected limited biometrics information from visitors to protect Peruvian border security. Visas were not required for citizens of Europe, Southeast Asia, or Central America (except El Salvador and Nicaragua). The United States and Peru continue to work toward implementing an arrangement to exchange terrorist screening information.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Peru is a member of the GAFILAT, a FATF-style regional body. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Peru is a member of the Egmont Group. In January, GAFILAT published the first follow-up report analyzing Peru’s progress in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its Mutual Evaluation Report adopted in 2018. The FIU published a guide for the implementation of the Asset Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention System in the foreign exchange trading sector.
Countering Violent Extremism: The government’s multisectoral VRAEM 2021 Development Strategy, part of Peru’s bicentennial vision, aims to foster alternative development and social inclusion, and complements aggressive action against SL terrorism, propaganda, and recruitment. The Ministry of Justice continued to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Plan of Reparations for victims of the violence between the armed forces and the terrorist groups from 1980 and 2000 as part of Peru’s national policy of peace, reconciliation, and reparation.
International and Regional Cooperation: Peruvian officials participated in CT activities in international organizations, including the United Nations, the OAS-CICTE, the Union of South American Nations, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. In July, Peru presented at the UN Virtual Counter-Terrorism Week. Peru sent a high-level delegation to the Third Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial in Bogotá in January and offered to host the next ministerial conference in 2021. The PNP Counterterrorism Directorate coordinated with police in other countries to track activities of domestic terrorist organizations abroad.