Overview: The Peruvian National Police (PNP) and armed forces continued operations in 2021 targeting alleged Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, or SL) remnants. The government also continued investigating SL front organizations and its legal political branch, called the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef).
Virtual hearings in the terrorism trial against Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, a Lebanese citizen suspected of links to Hizballah, continued in 2021. The prosecution presented the testimony of an FBI Hizballah subject-matter expert to demonstrate common elements between the Hamdar case and another case successfully prosecuted in the United States. Hamdar’s case is still pending witness testimony and closing arguments. If convicted, Hamdar would represent the first terrorism conviction of a Hizballah operative in South America.
SL continued to operate in the Valley of the Rivers Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro (VRAEM). Estimates vary, but most experts and the Peruvian security services assess SL remnants numbered between 250 and 300 members, including from 60 to as many as 150 armed fighters. SL collects “revolutionary taxes” from drug trafficking organizations operating in the area to support its terrorist activities.
Víctor Quispe Palomino (aka Camarada José), a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Most Wanted Fugitive, leads SL’s remnants in the VRAEM, which he calls the Militarized Communist Party of Peru (MPCP). Quispe allegedly oversees all MPCP illicit activities, including extortion, murder, and drug trafficking.
SL founder Abimael Guzmán died on September 11, at age 86, while in a military prison near Lima. He and key accomplices were serving life sentences for terrorist acts conducted during the 1980s and 1990s. Peru’s political establishment, including President Pedro Castillo, overwhelmingly welcomed the news of Guzmán’s passing and condemned terrorism more broadly.
2021 Terrorist Incidents: The overall number of terrorist attacks and deaths of security forces attributable to terrorism in Peru decreased in 2021, compared with the previous year.
- During May 24-25, 16 local people were killed in the vicinity of San Miguel del Ene, in the Cusco Region’s La Convención Province. The victims included four children. Pamphlets were found urging Peruvians not to participate in the 2021 presidential elections. The Peruvian government attributed the attack to SL remnants, although SL did not publicly take responsibility.
- During July 3-4, SL remnants attacked military police in the vicinity of Pampa Aurora, in Ayacucho’s Huanta Province, resulting in several injuries.
- On October 28, narcotraffickers, with ties to terrorism, attacked military police in the vicinity of Nueva Maravilla, in Ayacucho’s Huanta Province. Government troops successfully repulsed the attack.
- On October 29, narcotraffickers, also with ties to terrorism, attacked a military patrol after being pulled over in their van in Santa Cruz de Llacchuas, in Ayacucho’s Huanta Province. The assailants escaped but abandoned the van and more than 60 kilograms of cocaine.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Peru adopted multiple counterterrorism laws over the past 30 years, and CT measures have broad public support. Enforcement of the COVID-19 pandemic national lockdown took a heavy toll on security forces’ availability, but joint military and police teams completed 17 planned operations in 2021, including the following:
- On March 21, a military patrol captured SL operative Marco Antonio Díaz in Nuevo Unidos Tahuantinsuyo, in the Ucayali Region’s Padre Abad Province.
- On September 13, a joint military and police patrol tracked down key SL logistician “Camarada Hernán,” in Chibuco, in the Junín Region’s Satipo Province. Hernán was killed during the raid, and the patrol recovered computer equipment and other intelligence.
- On November 7, a joint military and police patrol seized military equipment belonging to SL in Pachamarca District, in Huancavelica’s Churcampa Province. The equipment included rifles, handguns, grenades, ammunition, 148 sticks of dynamite, and terrorist propaganda.
- On December 13, a joint military police patrol seized military equipment belonging to SL in the vicinity of Libertad, in Junín’s Satipo Province. The equipment included hand grenades, dynamite, homemade explosives, detonators, firearm ammunition, and terrorist propaganda.
Immigration authorities continued to collect biometric information from visitors at ports of entry to protect Peruvian border security. Visas were not required for visitors from Europe, Southeast Asia, or Central America (except El Salvador and Nicaragua). The United States and Peru have had a bilateral information sharing arrangement in place since 2019, which facilitates the exchange of terrorist screening information and complements other programs such as the DHS Automated Targeting System-Global.
In 2021, Peru expanded its cooperation with the United States on the Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program, which offers the capability to search, enroll, and identify known or suspected terrorists, violent international gang members, and other individuals of interest by leveraging three key U.S. databases. The program also serves as a capacity building mechanism.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Peru is a member of GAFILAT, a FATF-style regional body. The FIU of Peru is a member of the Egmont Group. GAFILAT continues to address the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its 2018 Mutual Evaluation Report, and the FIU is implementing 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 actions against SL terrorism, propaganda, and recruitment. The Ministry of Justice also continues to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Plan of Reparations for victims of violence between the armed forces and terrorist groups during the 1980s and 1990s, 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 UN, OAS-CICTE, the Union of South American Nations, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. The PNP Counterterrorism Directorate also coordinated with police in other countries to track terrorist activities.