Overview: On November 30, Secretary Blinken designated Segunda Marquetalia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP, Ejército del Pueblo) as FTOs. At the same time, the Secretary revoked the designation of FARC as an FTO. Following the 2016 Peace Accord between FARC and the Colombian government, the National Liberation Army (ELN), Segunda Marquetalia, and FARC-EP terrorist organizations saw a resurgence and in some areas of Colombia have been filling the void left by former FARC combatants who permanently left the battlefield. As of December, roughly 13,000 FARC ex-combatants (including former rank-and-file guerrillas and militia) continue to participate in the reintegration process based on the 2016 Peace Accord. Challenges to Peace Accord implementation and continued security vacuums created ongoing risk of terrorist activity and attacks on civilians, security forces, and infrastructure in 2021. Open-source reporting suggests that support networks and armed members of Segunda Marquetalia and FARC-EP have a combined strength of an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 members. Similarly, estimates of ELN members and supporters hover around 5,000. Colombian-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation remains strong. While Colombia is not a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Colombia has openly condemned ISIS and its objectives.
2021 Terrorist Incidents: In 2021, Segunda Marquetalia, FARC-EP, and ELN continued to commit acts of terrorism throughout the country, including bombings, violence against civilian populations and infrastructure, kidnapping, and violent attacks against military and police facilities. Terrorist incidents in 2021 included the following:
- On March 26, FARC-EP detonated a car bomb outside of a mayoral office in Corinto, Cauca, 37 miles south of Cali, Colombia’s third-largest city. The bombing injured 43 people.
- Mostly peaceful nationwide protests beginning in April were co-opted in some areas of the country by Segunda Marquetalia and ELN terrorists who, in some instances, directed protestors in acts of violence against Colombian security forces and provided weapons and other supplies to protestors.
- On June 15, FARC-EP claimed responsibility for bombing a Colombian Army base in Cúcuta along the Colombia-Venezuela border. The bombing resulted in 36 injuries, including one member of the U.S. military, who sustained minor injuries.
- On June 25, President Duque’s helicopter was shot by FARC-EP members as it attempted to land in Cúcuta during an official visit.
- On December 14, FARC-EP detonated a bomb at Cúcuta’s Camilo Daza International Airport, killing three persons. Colombian authorities have concluded that the attacks were planned by FARC-EP members residing in Venezuela.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no changes to terrorism-related legislation and investigation procedures in 2021. In November, Colombian authorities working with INTERPOL arrested Russian citizen Vladimir Taranetc, alias Ali Ali, at Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport during a layover on his way from Türkiye to Guatemala. Ali Ali had an outstanding INTERPOL red notice issued by Russia, which says Ali Ali was a member of ISIS and committed acts of terrorism in Iraq and Syria.
In August, media cited Colombian security officials in disclosing a plot allegedly orchestrated by an Iranian named Rahmat Asadi to pay two Colombians $100,000 to kidnap and kill two Israeli businessmen in Bogotá. The sources claimed that Asadi had close ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and reportedly met the two hired Colombians while in a Dubai prison after being extradited from Thailand on murder charges. The Israeli businessmen were notified of the plot and fled. The two Colombians reportedly also fled after Asadi threatened them for not following through on the assassination plot.
Colombian border security remained an area of vulnerability as military and law enforcement agencies continued to face the challenge of working in areas with porous land borders, difficult topography, illegal armed groups, and drug trafficking.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Colombia is a member of FATF, and its FIU, Colombia’s Financial Information and Analysis Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group. In August, Colombia’s Council on Economic and Social Policy approved financing to strengthen the capacity of the government to combat money-laundering and terrorism financing.
Countering Violent Extremism: In 2021, roughly 13,000 FARC ex-combatants and former militia members who demobilized under the 2016 Peace Accord continued to participate in social and economic reintegration activities. Colombia continued to employ a modern, multi-agency approach to CVE. The number of members of armed groups — including ELN, Segunda Marquetalia, FARC-EP, Clan del Golfo, Los Pelusos, and Los Caparros — who demobilized individually in 2021 was 278. Of those 278, 160 were minors.
International and Regional Cooperation: There were no changes since 2020.