Country Reports on Terrorism 2014
Chapter 2. Country Reports: Western Hemisphere Overview
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State
Released 19 June 2015
Almost all governments in the region recognized the potential threat that terrorism represents to their domestic and hemispheric interests. At the same time there was an informed understanding that terrorist groups do not currently menace the region in the way in which they can and do in other parts of the world. Despite a genuine recognition of the importance of exercising constant unilateral and multilateral vigilance to ensure this situation continues, corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or non-existent legislation, and a lack of resources remained the primary causes for the lack of significant progress on countering terrorism in some countries in the Western Hemisphere. Transnational criminal organizations continued to pose for more significant threats to the region than terrorism, and most countries made efforts to investigate possible connections with terrorist organizations.
The primary terrorist threats in the Western Hemisphere come from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army, which continued to commit the majority of terrorist attacks in the region. Peace negotiations between the FARC and the Government of Colombia continued throughout the year in Cuba. The ability of the Shining Path to conduct coordinated attacks and its membership both continued to decline with successful Peruvian military operations.
Operational cells of either al-Qa’ida or Hizballah in the hemisphere were not confirmed, but ideological sympathizers in South America and the Caribbean continued to provide financial and moral support to those and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia. In Peru, police arrested Muhammad Amadar, a suspected member of Hizballah, who had allegedly engaged in surveillance of Israeli and Jewish targets, and was found to have traces of explosives on his body and in his home. The investigation is ongoing. The Tri-Border areas of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay remained an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, and human smuggling, counterfeiting, pirated goods, and money laundering – all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations. The United States remained vigilant in its efforts to monitor Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere.
The United States collaborated extensively with both Canada and Mexico to protect our shared borders through regular exchanges of intelligence and other information.
On December 17, 2014, the President announced sweeping changes to U.S. policy on Cuba, which included a review of the status of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
Overview: Argentina maintained capabilities for confronting terrorism at the federal level, and directed increased effort to addressing policing challenges along its remote northern and northeastern borders, which include the Tri-Border Area where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet. Limited U.S. law enforcement and security cooperation with Argentina focused on information sharing.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Argentina’s Antiterrorism Law of 2007, modified in 2011, serves as a supplement to the criminal code for the prosecution of terrorism cases. The Argentine government took steps that it maintained would help determine culpability for the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and injured more than 150 people. In March, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner confirmed to the Argentine Congress and at the September UNGA that she would continue to seek to implement a “truth commission,” agreed between Argentina and Iran in January 2013. The proposed talks were intended to clarify Iran’s alleged role in the bombing, for which several former Iranian cabinet-level officials have outstanding Interpol Red Notices. In May, an Argentine court declared the agreement between the two governments unconstitutional. The Argentine-Jewish community and the U.S. government expressed skepticism regarding the Argentina-Iran dialogue, and indeed it has failed to advance the investigation.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Argentina is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a FATF-style regional body. In October, the FATF found that Argentina was making sufficient progress on implementing anti-money laundering action plans and removed Argentina from the FATF’s monitoring process, where it had been placed since 2011. Argentina closed several loopholes in previous legislation; gave the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) the power to freeze assets; and criminalized the financing of terrorist organizations, individuals, and terrorist acts. Argentina is a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
Not all NGOs are required to report. Only legal entities receiving more than US $5,700 in donations or third party support must file. The UIF has used its counterterrorism authority mainly to pursue cases against members of the country’s former military dictatorship.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Argentina participated in the OAS 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.
Overview: The Brazilian government continued to support counterterrorism activities, which included third-country technical assistance for controlling sensitive technologies, assessing and mitigating potential terrorist threats in advance of major sporting events like the FIFA World Cup, and investigating fraudulent travel documents. Operationally, Brazilian security forces worked with U.S. officials to pursue investigative leads provided by the United States and other intelligence services, law enforcement, and financial agencies regarding terrorist suspects.
The Brazilian Federal Police (DPF) worked closely with the U.S. government and other nations’ law enforcement entities to assess and mitigate potential terrorist threats, especially leading up to and during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Cooperation was strong and continuous, particularly dealing with crisis management, emergency response, and planning exercises to build response capability.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Brazil’s 1980 National Security Law is the only legislation that mentions terrorism. Brazilian law lacks clarity on the definition of terrorist acts, which hinders prosecutions of potential terrorists.
Four pieces of terrorism legislation were under consideration in the Brazilian Congress: one would deny visas to persons and/or expel foreigners convicted or accused of a terrorist act in another country (introduced in 2011); another would define terrorism in the Brazilian Constitution (introduced in 2013); a third would update the Brazilian penal code to include sentencing guidelines for terrorism crimes (introduced in 2012); and the fourth would define a number of crimes, among them terrorism and terrorist financing, and was intended to enter into force in advance of the FIFA 2014 World Cup (introduced in 2011).
Brazil has three law enforcement agencies with counterterrorism responsibilities, ranging from the investigation of terrorism to interdiction and response. The lead counterterrorism agency, with responsibility for investigating any terrorist-related threats or groups, is the DPF Anti-Terrorism Division, working with the DPF’s Tactical Operations Command. In addition, the state-level Military Police Departments, through their respective Police Special Operations Battalions; and the state-level Civil Police Departments, through their respective Divisions of Special Operations; also work on counterterrorism issues.
All of Brazil’s federal law enforcement agencies with counterterrorism responsibilities have benefitted from U.S. capacity building training. The U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program delivered courses to security and law enforcement personnel, covering topics such as tactical command, vital infrastructure security, crisis incident management, digital network security, and bus and rail security – all with the goal of enhancing investigative capabilities, building border security capabilities, and supporting the Government of Brazil’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks at the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The ATA training courses had the added benefit of bringing together disparate agencies, which enhanced Brazilian interagency communication.
The U.S. Department of State funded professional development courses for police and justice officials both in Brazil and through the International Law Enforcement Academy in San Salvador, El Salvador. In 2014, Homeland Security Investigations provided cross-border financial investigations training to help combat terrorist financing. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation offered courses ranging from interview and interrogation techniques, terrorist financing and money laundering investigations, and Hostage Rescue Team technical assistance exchanges. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provided training to Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) airport security managers and to the DPF’s Bureau of Airport Security Services on airport security checkpoint optimization, explosive threat mitigation, and the implementation of an airport security testing program. The TSA also initiated an expert exchange with the DPF’s canine group (SECAN) to assist in the development of its explosive detection canine program. SECAN requested that its canine program be evaluated by TSA for possible recognition of commensurability with TSA’s canine program.
Brazilian authorities continued to work with other concerned nations – particularly the United States – in combating document fraud. Since 2009, multiple regional and international joint operations successfully disrupted a number of document vendors and facilitators, as well as related human-smuggling networks. Since 2008, DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have trained Brazilian airline employees on identifying fraudulent documents. The U.S. government provides comprehensive and ongoing anti-fraud training to airline and border police units through its Investigations Program.
The U.S.-Brazil Container Security Initiative in Santos, which began in 2005, continued to operate throughout 2014. Brazil continued to reach out to CBP’s International Affairs and Field Operations Offices to learn best practices and conduct joint workshops to bolster supply chain security and port security. Similarly, the Brazilian ANAC, DPF, and Brazilian Customs continued to work with TSA to make modifications to Brazil’s National Cargo Security Program to gain TSA recognition of commensurability for cargo security procedures, training, and operations at Brazil’s international airports.
Brazil shares vast international borders with ten different countries, and many of these borders are porous – especially those with Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. Travel document security is a highly specialized skill. The Brazilian states maintain individual criminal records databases, and information sharing is unwieldy. Biometric information is not collected from visitors. A 2013 law requires the collection of passenger name record data, and it is being gradually implemented. Brazil does not maintain its own terrorist watch list, although it collaborates with other nations.
In 2014, the Brazilian Army inaugurated the initial section of a border-monitoring system that integrates a combination of soldiers, cameras, sensors, and satellites. The initial section was implemented in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul on the Paraguay border. The system will eventually cover the entire Brazilian land border.
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. Brazil prioritizes FATF recommendations and created a working group chaired by the Ministry of Justice to incorporate these recommendations into legislation and regulation. Brazil updated its money laundering legislation in 2012, establishing stricter penalties, but it did not criminalize terrorist financing as a stand-alone criminal offense. Brazil is a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
Through Brazil’s Financial Activities Oversight Council (COAF), which is a largely independent entity within the Finance Ministry, Brazil has carried out name checks for persons and entities on the UNSCR 1267/1989 (al-Qa’ida sanctions) and 1988 (Taliban sanction) terrorist finance lists, but it has not reported any assets, accounts, or property in the names of persons or entities on the UN lists. The Government of Brazil has generally responded to U.S. efforts to identify and block terrorist-related funds.
COAF does not have the authority to unilaterally freeze assets without a court order. The FATF has recommended that COAF create a standard operating procedure for freezing funds, which COAF has prioritized as a project but had not yet completed by year’s end.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Brazil participates in regional counterterrorism fora, including the OAS and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, the Union of South American Nations, and the working group on terrorism and sub-working group on financial issues in the Southern Common Market.
Brazil is an active participant in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Working Group on Security. Additionally, in 2014, the Director-President of ANAC held the Presidency of the Latin American Civil Aviation Commission.
The Brazilian government continued to invest in border and law enforcement infrastructure, and has undertaken initiatives with its neighboring countries to control the flow of goods – legal and illegal – through the Tri-Border Area of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Brazil’s DPF Anti-Terrorism Division was created specifically to address threats of radicalization and to counter violent extremism.
Overview: Canada plays a vital role in international efforts to detect, disrupt, prevent, and punish acts of terrorism. Canada and the United States maintained a close, cooperative counterterrorism partnership, working together on key bilateral homeland security programs such as the Beyond the Border initiative and the Cross Border Crime Forum. Canadian diplomacy supported global efforts to prevent radicalization, counter violent extremism, and promote the rule of law overseas.
Canada has made significant contributions to the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. In addition to providing military forces to coalition air and ground operations in Iraq, Canadian law enforcement and security services are working to prevent the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to and from Iraq and Syria. Traveling abroad to commit acts of terrorism is a violation of Canadian federal law. Measures include denial of passport applications (or revocation of valid passports) of Canadian citizens suspected of traveling abroad (or aspiring to travel abroad) to commit acts of terrorism, and maintenance of a watchlist of individuals (both citizens and non-citizen residents) flagged for potential involvement with violent extremist organizations.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: On October 20 and 22, two Canadian Forces soldiers were murdered in separate terrorist attacks that took place outside Montreal and in downtown Ottawa, respectively. On October 20, Martin Couture-Rouleau, a Canadian national, killed one uniformed Canadian soldier with his car and injured a second in a hit-and-run ambush outside a government office in Quebec that provided services to military personnel. Police fatally shot Couture-Rouleau following a car chase. Authorities said that he had become radicalized and motivated by violent extremist ideology.
On October 22, Canadian national Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot one military honor guard and fired at a second guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa before forcing entry into the federal Parliament, where he was shot and killed by security officials. Authorities said that he had become radicalized by violent extremist ideology.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Canada’s legal framework includes significant penalties for committing terrorist acts, conspiring to commit terrorist acts, financing terrorism, and traveling abroad to engage in terrorism. In June, the government passed C-24, Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which provided for the collection, retention, use, disclosure, and disposal of information on Canadian citizens – including disclosure for the purposes of national security, the defense of Canada, the conduct of international affairs; or verification of citizenship status or identity of any person for the purpose of administering the law of another country. C-24, which came into effect August 1, further granted the Canadian government authority for the first time to strip Canadian citizenship from Canadian dual nationals convicted of treason, terrorism, and espionage offenses, or who served as a member of an armed force or organized armed group engaged in an armed conflict with Canada. It also barred individuals convicted of these offenses, or who had engaged in armed conflict with Canada, from acquiring Canadian citizenship.
At year’s end, the passing of C-44, Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act, was still pending in Parliament. C-44 would amend the Canadian Security Intelligence (CSIS) Act to confirm CSIS’s authority to conduct investigations abroad and obtain federal court warrants to carry out those investigations; protect the identity of CSIS human sources from disclosure; and protect the identity of CSIS employees engaging in covert activities. The bill would expedite implementation of the citizenship revocation measures in C-24 Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act passed in June.
On December 11, C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, received Royal Assent. The bill permits a combination of new online lawful access investigative tools to intercept, track, and preserve (with judicial production orders or warrants) private electronic communications on “reasonable grounds for suspicion” of committing an offense. The bill shields internet providers from lawsuits for voluntary disclosure of private data to law enforcement without a warrant. The bill also amends the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to promote cooperation among specific states by establishing a system for exchanging information and evidence relating to the gathering of evidence in Canada on behalf of a foreign state for use in a criminal investigation and prosecution conducted by that state.
Canadian law enforcement and homeland security entities shared information with their U.S. and other investigative counterparts in a timely, proactive fashion. Prosecutors worked in close cooperation with specialized law enforcement units that maintain advanced investigative techniques, crisis response capabilities, and border security capacity. Canadian law enforcement entities, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), have clearly demarcated counterterrorism missions, as well as effective working relationships with provincial and municipal law enforcement and other elements of the Canadian Forces that have counterterrorism roles.
Canada has an extensive border security network and makes excellent use of travel document security technology, biographic and biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry, information sharing with host governments and other countries, and collection of advance passenger name record information on commercial flights. Canada and the United States continued their extensive border security collaboration under the auspices of the Beyond the Border initiative, as well as the Cross Border Crime Forum and other ongoing law enforcement exchanges. Canadian security forces are very capable of effectively patrolling and controlling land and maritime borders.
Notable terrorism-related cases in 2014 included:
- One man pled guilty to avoid trial, courts found a second guilty, and acquitted a third man in a 2010 conspiracy to bomb targets in Ottawa and participate in and facilitate terrorist activity. In September, Hiva Alizadeh received a 24-year sentence with no eligibility for parole for nine years in exchange for a guilty plea on a charge of possessing an explosive device for terrorist activity. The government withdrew lesser charges of participating in and facilitating terrorist activity. With credit for time in pre-trial custody, Alizadeh faced a maximum 18-year-sentence. In July, a court found Pakistan-born Misbahuddin Ahmed guilty in the same plot of conspiring to facilitate a terrorist activity and participating in a terrorist activity, but acquitted him of possessing an explosive device. In October, he received a 12-year prison sentence, reduced to 11 years with credit for time served in custody, with eligibility for parole after three years. In November, authorities appealed the sentence. The appeal remained pending as of December 2014. In August, courts acquitted Khurram Sher on one count of conspiring to commit terrorism.
- On May 14, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a national security certificate against Ottawa resident Mohamed Harkat, and reinstated a lower court decision that had found him guilty of being a sleeper agent of the al-Qa’ida network. Harkat, who arrived in Canada in 1995 and was arrested in 2002, appealed the constitutionality of his certificate. The Supreme Court had struck down the original certificate system in 2007 as unconstitutional because it did not allow defendants to know and challenge confidential evidence against them.
- On July 17, Canadian authorities handed down the country’s first charge under a 2013 law that criminalizes travel for the purposes of terrorism. Police charged Hasibullah Yusufzai, a Canadian national, in absentia for murder “in association with a terrorist group.” Yusufzai reportedly left the country in January for Syria.
- On July 25, an Ontario court sentenced Somali-born Canadian citizen Mohamed Hersi to a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment on one count each of attempting to participate in a terrorist activity and of counselling another person to participate in a terrorist activity. The case was the first in which authorities laid charges of attempted terrorist activity. Authorities had arrested Hersi in March 2011 at an airport in Toronto where authorities alleged he intended to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabaab.
- On August 11, the provincial Alberta Court of Appeal denied an appeal by Iraqi-born Canadian citizen Sayfildin Tahir Sharif (also known as Faruq Khalil Muhammad Isa) challenging his extradition to the United States, and ordered him to be extradited to face charges of complicity in terrorist bombings in Iraq that killed five American soldiers and seven civilians in 2009, and of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. nationals abroad. [Sharif was extradited to the United States in January 2015.]
- On November 13, the Supreme Court denied an appeal by Lebanese-born Canadian citizen Hassan Diab of his deportation order to France to face charges in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Four passersby were killed, and forty others were injured in the bombing. Authorities extradited Diab on November 14.
Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian national, and Raed Jaser, a Palestinian national, remained in custody awaiting trial on charges of conspiring to derail a VIA Rail passenger train between Toronto and New York City for terrorism purposes. Neither are Canadian citizens. Police charged the pair in April 2013. At year’s end, courts had not set a date to try the cases.
On December 11, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that police may search a suspect’s cellphone without a warrant under specific conditions that safeguard the broader constitutional right to privacy. In one case, for example, an individual was arrested after an armed robbery. His cellular phone, which was not password protected, was searched and found to contain a picture of the handgun used in the robbery and a draft text message that said "We did it."
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Canada is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. Canada is also an observer in the Council of Europe’s Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures; the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force; and the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America. Canada is a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units, and plays an active role in developing training to combat terrorist financing.
Canada has a rigorous detection and monitoring process in place to identify money-laundering and terrorist financing activities. FINTRAC is Canada’s Financial Intelligence Unit and is responsible for detecting, preventing, and deterring money laundering and financing of terrorist activities.
In June, the Canadian government passed C-31, Economic Action Plan 2014, which amended the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to enhance record keeping and registration requirements for financial institutions and intermediaries, and expand the circumstances in which FINTRAC or the Canada Border Services Agency can disclose information. C-31 also updated the review and appeal provisions related to cross-border currency reporting. C-31 came into effect on June 19.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Canada prioritizes collaboration with international partners to counter terrorism and regularly seeks opportunities to lead. Canada is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and was also active in other fora dealing with counterterrorism, including: the OSCE, the UN, G-7, APEC, ASEAN and the ASEAN Regional Forum, Commonwealth, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the Global Initiative to Counter Nuclear Terrorism, and the OAS. Canada makes major contributions to the GCTF, including as co-chair of the Sahel Working Group.
Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development maintains a counterterrorism capacity building program, and provides training, funding, equipment, technical, and legal assistance to states to enable them to prevent and respond to a broad spectrum of terrorist activity. Examples of Canadian counterterrorism assistance include: border security; transportation security; legislative, regulatory, and legal policy development; human rights training; law enforcement, security, military, and intelligence training; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives terrorism prevention; mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery; detecting and preventing terrorist financing; cybersecurity; and protection of critical infrastructure.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The RCMP’s National Security Community Outreach program continued to promote interaction and relationship building with at-risk communities. The Department of Public Safety’s Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security fosters dialogue on national security issues between the government and community leaders, including diaspora groups. Both of these initiatives are part of Canada’s Counterterrorism Strategy, which seeks specifically to reduce the risk of individuals succumbing to violent extremism and radicalization. The government continued to work with non-governmental partners and concerned communities to deter violent extremism through preventative programming and community outreach.
Overview: In 2014, Colombia experienced a year of overall decreased terrorist activity according to Ministry of Defense statistics, thanks in part to successes in its military campaign against Colombia’s largest terrorist organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Although the government and the FARC reached tentative, partial agreements on land reform, political participation, and drug trafficking, no overall bilateral peace agreement had been concluded by the end of the year. On June 10, the government announced that in January, it had begun exploratory talks with the other major terrorist organization in Colombia, the National Liberation Army (ELN), although formal peace negotiations had not started by year’s end.
The Colombian government continued its military pressure against insurgents in 2014. The number of members of Foreign Terrorist Organizations – including the FARC and ELN – and several minor guerrilla groups killed in combat in 2014 decreased to some degree, while the number of members of such organizations that were captured increased slightly. At the same time, the total number of insurgents who demobilized in the same period rose by a small amount. Both the FARC and ELN observed a ceasefire for the first round of the presidential elections on May 25, and the FARC again observed a ceasefire June 9 through 30 during the presidential runoff elections that confirmed President Santos’ second term. On November 17, President Santos suspended peace negotiations with the FARC after the group kidnapped Brigadier General Ruben Alzate Mora and four other hostages. The FARC released all five hostages by November 30, and peace talks resumed December 10. The FARC declared an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire on December 20.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: The FARC focused on low-cost, high-impact asymmetric attacks, as it did in 2013. The most common forms of terrorist activity were the launching of mortars at police stations or the military, explosive devices placed near roads or paths, sniper attacks, roadblocks, and ambushes. In 2014, Colombian government statistics showed a decrease in attacks from 2013. Terrorist attacks on infrastructure – particularly on oil pipelines and energy towers, primarily by the FARC and the ELN – also decreased in 2014 compared to 2013 according to Ministry of Defense statistics. Security forces and government buildings were the most common terrorist targets, although civilian casualties occurred throughout the year. Attacks were most common along the Venezuelan border in the departments of Arauca, Norte de Santander, and La Guajira; in the southwestern departments of Nariño and Cauca; and in the northwestern department of Antioquia.
Among the terrorist attacks recorded in 2014, several were notable for their severity or significant press coverage:
- On March 22, the Daniel Aldana Mobile Column of the FARC admitted killing two policemen they had kidnapped and tortured on March 15 in the city of Tumaco, Nariño department.
- In the weeks following the June 10 announcement of exploratory talks with the government, the ELN launched several attacks, including the June 20 bombing of a police station in the capital city of Bogota that injured three people, and a June 29 attack on the Caño Limon-Coveñas oil pipeline in Arauca department that injured 13 people and resulted in suspended production at Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s oil fields.
- On July 29, in advance of the August presidential inauguration, the ELN, in a demonstration of their ability to attack the capital city, placed five leaflet bombs in Bogota, with several exploding prior to detection.
- In the run up to the August presidential inauguration, the FARC increased terrorist attacks throughout the country. On July 28, a FARC attack on a transmission tower in the port city of Buenaventura left 400,000 people without power. On July 30, three soldiers died after land mines laid by FARC guerrillas detonated in Norte de Santander department. In late July, a FARC attempt to attack a military base in the town of Miranda in Cauca department with grenades killed a four-year-old girl and wounded two others. The FARC also blew up a road linking three southern jungle departments with the rest of the country, leaving a 10-meter-deep crater in the road. FARC attacks in Meta department left 70 oil wells without power and approximately 16,000 people without potable water. On July 1, thousands of barrels of oil were spilled from tanker trucks in a FARC attack on Putumayo department, causing environmental damage.
- On September 14, ELN snipers shot dead two workers sent to repair a damaged section of the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline that had been bombed by the group near the town of Teorama in Norte de Santander department.
- On September 16, the FARC – reportedly in alliance with the Usuga Clan criminal gang – attacked a police patrol in Tierradentro in Cordoba department, killing seven policemen and injuring five others.
- On November 5, FARC Sixth Front insurgents killed two indigenous leaders near the southwestern municipality of Toribío for taking down a sign honoring late FARC leader Alfonso Cano. An indigenous court convicted and sentenced seven FARC guerillas to between 40 and 60 years in jail and 20 lashes for the murders.
- On November 16, the FARC kidnapped Brigadier General Ruben Alzate Mora and two companions near Quibdo in Choco department. Several days earlier, the FARC kidnapped two soldiers in Arauca department. Following the President’s cessation of the peace negotiations and widespread condemnation, the FARC released all five hostages by November 30.
- On November 22, FARC guerillas launched an amphibious attack on Gorgona Island (the site of a national park) located 35 kilometers from the Colombian mainland off the Pacific coast, killing the island’s police commander and injuring six police officers.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The legal regime governing the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases in Colombia is governed by Section 906 of Colombia’s Criminal Code, which phased in an accusatory system for the country’s criminal justice system. The purpose of Section 906 is to develop an evidence-based system of justice where cases are tried before a judge based on testimonial, physical, or documentary evidence with a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof. Most terrorism cases are prosecuted under traditional legal statutes that are used for narcotics trafficking and organized crime, such as conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms authorized for exclusive use of the security forces. There are some specialized statutes that the Attorney General Office’s specialized Counterterrorism Unit uses, such as “rebellion” under Section 467 of Colombia’s Criminal Code. Colombia’s rebellion statute criminalizes “those who, through armed conflict, seek to overthrow the Constitutionally-enacted government of Colombia.”
The Attorney General Office’s specialized Counterterrorism Unit has prosecutors assigned at the national level in Bogota, and in regions of conflict throughout the country. The unit has developed a great deal of expertise in investigating and prosecuting acts of terrorism and insurgency with the Attorney General’s own Technical Criminal Investigative Body, Colombia’s National Police (CNP), and the country’s military forces. In 2014, the Attorney General’s Office also reestablished the National Judicial Police Council – presided over by the Attorney General and including members of the CNP and other agencies with investigative authority – to develop minimum standards for investigations and forensics, and to better standardize investigative basic training. Colombia also worked on securing international accreditation for its forensic laboratories.
The CNP has specialized counterterrorism units in the Intelligence, Anti-Kidnapping, and Judicial Police Directorates, all with advanced investigation techniques and crisis response capabilities. Law enforcement units display clear and effective command and control within each organization. These specialized law enforcement units are properly equipped and supported with relevant training. Counterterrorism missions are demarcated to a limited extent between law enforcement and military units. Colombia’s contemporary military and law enforcement units have an improved record of accountability and respect for human rights. There is room for improvement in interagency cooperation and sharing of terrorism-related information. No single agency has jurisdiction over all terrorism-related investigations and post-incident response, sometimes resulting in poor information sharing and cooperation.
In 2014, Colombian authorities launched the operations of several new military task forces to enhance coordination in combating terrorism. The CNP managed fusion centers to ensure all operational missions coordinate intelligence, investigations, and operations under the command of regional police commanders. Additionally, the National Police Intelligence Directorate continued to operate a 24-hour Citizen Security Center tasked with detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorist attacks, among other crimes.
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 illegally armed groups and illicit drug cultivation and trafficking. The CNP lacked the manpower to enforce uniform policies for vehicle or passenger inspections at land border crossings. Biometric and biographic screening was conducted only at international airports. Of a total force of 180,000 officers, the CNP has only 1,500 officers assigned to Customs Enforcement (air, land, and sea ports and borders) duties. The CNP’s Customs Police are granted authorities for customs enforcement by Colombia’s Revenue and Customs authority and do not have authority to conduct primary inspections at air, land, or sea ports.
Improved relations with neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela have led to some increased cooperation from those countries on law enforcement issues. Colombia also continued cooperation and information sharing with the Panamanian National Border Service. The Colombian government does not use advance passenger name records.
Colombia remained a key transit point for the smuggling of third-country nationals who may raise terrorism concerns seeking to enter the United States illegally through the border with Mexico. Porous borders with Ecuador and Venezuela facilitate the movements of third-country nationals who may raise terrorism concerns through Colombia, and existing maritime narcotics smuggling routes facilitate their onward movement to Central America. Colombian Immigration lacks the personnel and enforcement authority to adequately respond to this growing threat, and the ability to repatriate citizens to their home countries via air.
In August, Colombian police arrested Duverney Ospina, a suspected FARC rebel accused of participating in the kidnapping of three U.S. citizens held hostage from 2003 to 2008 after their plane crash-landed in the jungle in Caqueta department.
In October, ex-FARC Commander Alexander Beltran Herrera was sentenced by a U.S. federal judge to 27 years in prison for hostage taking and aiding and abetting, two and a half years after Colombia extradited him to the United States for holding the three U.S. citizens hostage.
In November, FARC member Diego Alfonso Navarrete-Beltran was also extradited to the United States to face kidnapping charges of the same three U.S. citizens.
From January through October 2014, Colombia saw a 65 percent reduction in kidnappings from the same period in 2005. While kidnappings as a whole have declined in recent years, they continued to pose a real threat, especially in rural and insurgent-influenced portions of Colombia. Organized extortion networks inhibit economic growth and subvert the rule of law where they are active, and the alleged failure of victims to accede to extortion demands is regularly cited as the cause for terrorist attacks. The CNP Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Extortion Directorate have an international kidnapping unit to address kidnappings involving foreign nationals.
Law enforcement cooperation between Colombia and the United States remained strong. Evidence sharing and joint law-enforcement operations occurred in a fluid and efficient manner, with information gathered in Colombia contributing to hundreds of prosecutions of U.S.-based criminals and organizations. The Attorney General Office’s Counterterrorism Unit reported no investigations and prosecutions of acts of terrorism against U.S. citizens during the year.
Colombia continued to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program. The program provided instruction and resources to assist Colombia in building advanced, self-sustaining CNP capabilities to secure borders from terrorist transit, to investigate terrorists and terrorist incidents, and to protect critical infrastructure. Colombia continued to establish itself as a regional provider of counterterrorism training, particularly with regard to anti-kidnapping efforts and dignitary protection.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Colombia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a FATF-style regional body. Colombia stands out as a regional leader in the fight against terrorist financing, and has become a key part of a regional financial intelligence unit initiative aimed at strengthening information sharing among Latin American countries. Colombia is a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
Asset forfeiture cases developed by the Attorney General Office’s Counterterrorism Unit were referred to the Attorney General Office’s National Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit. Given the volume of case referrals from virtually all units in the Attorney General’s Office, however, asset forfeiture prosecutors, who were generally very experienced, often found themselves overextended.
The Attorney General’s Office used the same legal asset forfeiture tools for seizing assets in all criminal cases, including organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism. The government passed a new asset forfeiture law on January 20 that established a technical legal regime to streamline the manner in which such cases are processed. The Attorney General’s Office also continued a process of restructuring that includes the creation of more specialized police units with expertise in asset forfeiture and organized crime, especially financial crime.
Regional and International Cooperation: Colombia is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and is actively involved in the UN, OAS and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, the Pacific Alliance, and the Union of South American Nations. The CNP operates an Interpol office of approximately 70 analysts, agents, and support staff. Colombia also led the creation of the American Police Community (Ameripol) in 2007, and helped found the Latin American and Caribbean Community of Police Intelligence in 2005, whose Technical Secretariat is based in Bogota.
Colombia is becoming a leader in providing security training and assistance to other countries in the region. In 2014, Colombia conducted security training for over 700 non-Colombian individuals – including individuals from Central America and the Caribbean – in citizen security, crime prevention and monitoring, and military and police capacity building. Colombia also provided anti-kidnapping, anti-extortion, hostage negotiation, and cyber training to international partners in 2014. The CNP and military continued to operate schools that train security personnel from around the region. Colombia provided judicial training to regional judges and prosecutors in handling drug trafficking and terrorism cases, offered basic and advanced helicopter training to pilots from countries throughout Latin America, and maintained its elite Lancero and Jungla special forces courses open to students from other countries. Colombia’s Congress approved and President Santos subsequently signed an information sharing agreement with NATO, which at year’s end was under consideration in the Colombian Constitutional Court.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Colombia employed a robust and modern multi-agency approach to countering radicalization and violent extremism, with a focus on encouraging individual members and entire units of the FARC and ELN to demobilize and reintegrate into society. In 2014, the number of FARC and ELN members who demobilized increased slightly over 2013. The demobilization and reintegration programs provide medical care, psychological counseling, education benefits, technical training, and job placement assistance for demobilized combatants. In order to receive benefits, demobilized combatants must check in monthly with program managers. Recidivism rates were estimated at between 10 and 20 percent by the Colombian Agency for Reintegration.
The Colombian armed forces and police employed a number of fixed and mobile radio transmitters to broadcast strategic messaging to individuals considering leaving the FARC or ELN. Such messaging was also seen in print, television, and alternative media. The Colombian military and police employed the same media forms to counter FARC and ELN recruitment efforts. Additionally, the Ministry of Defense organized highly publicized festivals and social events with celebrity participation to discourage the recruitment of vulnerable youth. Moreover, with international community support, the government’s Inter-Institutional Committee for the Prevention of Recruitment of Children supported numerous recruitment prevention initiatives all over the country reaching more than 500,000 children at high risk. The Committee also worked with mayors to include prevention of recruitment activities in their development plans.
Overview: The Mexican government remained vigilant against domestic and international terrorist threats in 2014. There were no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, despite several erroneous press reports to the contrary during 2014. There was no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory. The Government of Mexico passed amendments to its Federal Penal Code that strengthened the country’s legal framework to address acts of terrorism, including terrorist financing. Mexican authorities cooperated well with relevant U.S. government agencies on third-country nationals who may raise terrorism concerns.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: On February 11, the Senate approved amendments to the Federal Penal Code, the Federal Criminal Procedure Code, the Organized Crime Law, the Federal Fiscal Code, the Asset Forfeiture Law, and Constitutional implementing legislation. These amendments strengthened Mexico’s legal framework to address acts of terrorism, terrorist financing and third-party assistance to terrorist financing, attacks against internationally protected persons, the conspiracy to commit terrorism, theft of radioactive or nuclear materials, and the sanctioning of the freezing or forfeiture of terrorist assets based on domestic and international intelligence sources. The amendments also increase the minimum sentences for acts of terrorism from six to 40 years to a minimum of 15 to 40 years, strengthened the penalties for crimes committed using illicit resources, and created an exception to rules governing the dissemination of third-party fiscal data in order to comply with new terrorist financing laws.
These amendments also sought to more closely align Mexico’s federal legislation with several of the international instruments related to countering terrorism, such as the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons. On February 5, Mexico passed a national code of criminal procedure that aimed to harmonize the criminal justice systems of Mexico’s 31 states and Federal District, and increase justice sector transparency, efficiency, and impartiality.
The U.S. Department of State’s Export Control and Border Security program (EXBS) funded training on identification and interdiction of dual-use items and materials that included participants from Mexican law enforcement agencies (Federal Police, Customs), Defense, the Office of the Prosecutor General, Migration, Committee for Nuclear Security and Safety, and others. EXBS also donated equipment for use at borders, airports, and major seaports to enhance Mexico’s capacity and readiness to identify and interdict dual-use materials of interest. The U.S. Department of State also provided the Government of Mexico with fixed and mobile non-intrusive inspection equipment and related detection devices for use at Mexico’s points of entry, border crossings, and internal checkpoints to increase border security and capabilities to interdict the illicit movement of narcotics, currency, weapons, goods, and migrants.
Mexico continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, and Mexican law enforcement received a range of ATA training in border security measures, investigative techniques, and dignitary and infrastructure protection operations.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Mexico belongs to the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, both Financial Action Task Force-style regional bodies. Mexico is a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
In January, the Head of the Mexican financial intelligence unit publicly disseminated rules outlining its power to order financial institutions to freeze the assets of designated persons and entities, namely those involved in illicit proceeds.
In August, rules limiting what individuals and businesses could deposit in banks were changed. Previously, banks could not accept more than US $4,000 per month from an individual account holder, or more than US $14,000 from business entities operating in the U.S. border region or defined tourist areas. The changes allow border- and tourist-area businesses to exceed the US $14,000 per month cash deposit limit provided that they: 1) have been operating for at least three years; 2) provide additional information to financial institutions justifying the need to conduct transactions in U.S. dollars cash; and 3) provide two years of financial statements and tax returns. The limit on individual account holders remained unchanged.
Regional and International Cooperation: Mexico continued to work with the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) to implement a joint counterterrorism work plan, which includes nonproliferation and WMD interdiction. OAS/CICTE collaborated closely with the Export Control and Related Border Security Program on this initiative, and the Committee funded multiple CICTE workshops in Mexico City focused on building awareness and best practices. In May, Mexico hosted the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism plenary in Mexico City.
Mexico has supported counterterrorism capacity building and cooperation with other states by hosting a first-ever Regional Advanced Commodity Identification Workshop in July. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the course took place at the headquarters of Mexico’s customs agency and featured Mexican and Panamanian instructors, and included participants from Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama.
Overview: In recent years, the most direct terrorism threats to Panama have been posed by the 57th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has long operated illegally in the Darien region of Panama. Panama’s successes at confronting the FARC’s presence with patrols and raids against FARC camps, as well as working closely with Colombia to secure its border, has all but eliminated the direct security threat posed by FARC within Panamanian territory, although lingering threats from the FARC remnants and narco-trafficking groups remain. Additionally, the Panama Canal Authority’s vigilance, along with international support, contributed to the maintenance of a secure Panama Canal.
Panama’s strategic location as a gateway between Central and South America, the large volume of cargo transiting the Canal and its free trade zones make the country vulnerable to illicit practices such as the diversion of strategic items to unauthorized users. Additionally, expansion in the banking and finance sectors, the establishment of a new diamond exchange, offshore banking facilities, tax shelters, and free trade zones leave Panama vulnerable to illicit arms and narcotics trade along with other associated forms of money laundering.
Panama’s Darien region remained a significant and growing pathway for human smuggling with counterterrorism implications. In 2014, more than 7,000 migrants were stopped attempting to illegally cross into Panama. Representatives of the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with Panamanian authorities to identify smuggled aliens with potential terrorism ties.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Panama has not passed a comprehensive counterterrorism legal framework; however, a 2013 law modified language in the existing Penal Code to criminalize certain terrorism-related crimes for periods of time ranging from six months to six years imprisonment.
Panama continued to lack a National Control List and a Strategic Trade Control law. Initial efforts to publish a National Control List in 2013 suffered a setback early in 2014, and a change in government removed from office many of the individuals involved in the process of pursuing the publishing of a National Control List.
The Panamanian government continued its efforts to exert sovereignty in the underserved Darien region through the use of security forces. The government’s primary security force for the Darien region is the National Border Service (SENAFRONT). SENAFRONT’s successes over previous years have degraded the capabilities of FARC to the point that they can no longer maintain a permanent militarized presence within Panamanian territory; they and smaller narco-trafficking organizations and criminal gangs from Colombia continued to cause instability within the territory. In addition to units within SENAFRONT, the Panamanian government also maintains counterterrorism units within the National Air-Naval Service, the Panamanian National Police, and the Institutional Protection Service.
Panama received significant international praise for its 2013 actions to search and detain the North Korean-flagged merchant vessel “Chong Chon Gang” for transiting the Canal with illicit cargo. The search of the vessel found arms and related materiel that violated UN Security Council Resolutions prohibiting transfer of such items to North Korea. In February 2014, North Korea paid a US $693,333 fine to the Panama Canal Authority, and the ship left Panama with most of the crewmembers. Panama initially detained all 33 members of the crew and charged the Captain, First Officer, and Political Officer of the vessel. After reviewing the evidence, the judge assigned to the case dismissed the charges against the three officers and they were released from custody. At year’s end, the vessel’s cargo remained in Panamanian custody pending the results of an appeal filed by the Public Ministry.
A key focus of counterterrorism efforts in Panama was securing the borders as well as the airports and seaports throughout the country. Panama continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, which provided instruction and resources to assist Panama to build its capacity to achieve these objectives and prevent use of Panama as a terrorist safe haven. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continued to assist Panamanian authorities in their efforts to improve airline screening at Tocumen International Airport. Both CBP and the U.S. Department of State’s Export Control and Border Security Program (EXBS) continued to work with the Government of Panama to refine risk analysis and targeting models to identify and segment high risk travelers and cargo. Mobile security teams continued operations throughout Tocumen International Airport, identifying and intercepting fugitives, persons associated with organized crime, and individuals known or suspected of association with terrorist networks.
EXBS’s engagement with the Panamanian government increased in 2014 as a result of the opening of a regional office in the U.S. Embassy in Panama City. EXBS coordinated and sponsored a wide array of training activities designed to develop and enhance the Government of Panama’s ability to detect, identify, and interdict shipments of strategic goods, WMD and WMD precursor materials, and other items of interest.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Panama is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. As of December, Panama was also a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
Panama’s anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime is in a state of significant evolution. In February, the IMF published an assessment report which found that Panama failed to attain an adequate level of compliance on nearly all of the FATF recommendations. As a result, Panama was immediately placed on the FATF public statement in June. Panama was referred to the FATF review process, which resulted in the development of an action plan designed to address Panama’s AML/CFT deficiencies. President Juan Carlos Varela’s government, which took office in July, offered high-level political commitment to implement the actions required by the FATF action plan. Panama continued working with the Inter-American Development Bank to draft new laws that adequately criminalize money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as establishing the legal framework necessary to freeze terrorist assets. In 2014, DOJ’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT) also began working with the Panamanian government to enhance the capacity of institutions to prosecute financial crimes involving money laundering and terrorism financing.
Panama’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Analysis Unit, bears responsibility for analyzing all suspect financial transactions. This unit, however, has been widely considered ineffective due to the lack of resources and political intervention. The result has been uneven enforcement of existing AML/CFT legislation. The Colon Free Zone, a port outside of the Panama Canal that is outside of Panama’s normal customs and financial regulation, remains vulnerable to exploitation for illicit financial activities due to its lax customs, trade, and transaction oversight.
The legal framework in Panama permits the freezing, seizure, and confiscation of the instruments and proceeds of criminal enterprises, including money laundering and terrorist financing; however, it does not provide for the confiscation of property of corresponding value and the application of other measures. Panama monitors and regulates money/value transfer and other remittance services for real estate agents, exchange houses, and transfer services.
While there is no obligation for non-profit organizations to file suspicious transaction reports, the Panamanian government monitors non-profit organizations for suspicious transactions.
Regional and International Cooperation: Panama became the first Latin American nation to join the Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Panama participates in UN and regional security initiatives such as the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism. Panama maintained a well-established border commission with Colombia, and continued to cooperate on training with partners in the region. The Colombian Army, Navy, and the National Police provided operational training in Panama for members of the Panamanian Public Forces through the U.S.-Colombia High-Level Strategic Security Dialogue. Panama hosted personnel from Belize, Colombia, and Costa Rica at its training facilities. EXBS sponsored a regional WMD Commodity Identification Training course in Panama City, which included instructors from Panama and Mexico and students from Panama, Costa Rica, and Colombia. EXBS also collaborated with U.S. Customs Border Protection to assess border security measures along the Panama-Costa Rica border region.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The United States and Panama continued to work together to create opportunities for the residents of the Darien region to deter possible efforts at local recruitment by the FARC, transnational criminal organizations, and narco-trafficking organizations. Through the Central American Regional Security Initiative programs, local youth received vocational and technical training to better prepare them to find jobs or start their own businesses, and indigenous entrepreneurs obtained assistance with the marketing of their local crafts for sale both domestically and internationally.
The addition of a temporary Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) Air Wing (AW) program supported the presence and objectives of SENAFRONT, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Government, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Social Development, the National Secretariat for Higher Education, Science, Innovation, and Technology, and the Secretariat for the Sustainable Development of the Province of the Darien and the Annex Comarcas. The INL AW-facilitated travel allowed Panamanian officials to reaffirm for local populations, particularly local youth populations, the presence of the state in a remote region, and supported the Panamanian government’s effort to ensure not just security but social development in the underserved Darien region.
Overview: In 2014, the Government of Paraguay continued to cooperate with the United States on counterterrorism matters, and the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program contributed to building Paraguay’s counterterrorism law enforcement capacity. Paraguay continued to face challenges of ineffective immigration, customs, and law enforcement controls along its porous borders, particularly the Tri-Border Area (TBA) with Argentina and Brazil. Illicit activities within the TBA remained potential funding sources for terrorist organizations, most notably Hizballah.
Since 2008, persons claiming to be part of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) – an internal criminal group dedicated to a socialist revolution in Paraguay – have been active in the northern departments of Concepcion and San Pedro. The group has been involved in violence designed to intimidate the population and government. The Government of Paraguay believes the EPP to be a small, decentralized group of 20 to 100 members. In September, former EPP members – reportedly expelled from the group over disciplinary issues – created the Armed Peasant Association (ACA). The ACA has similar leftist pursuits and is believed to consist of 13 members. EPP/ACA activity consisted largely of isolated attacks occurring on remote police and army posts, or against ranchers and peasants accused of collaborating with Paraguayan security services.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: The EPP conducted two high profile kidnappings, which received significant press coverage:
- In April, EPP members kidnapped a Paraguayan teenager who was released after 267 days in captivity on December 25, after his family reportedly paid a US $500,000 ransom.
- In July, EPP members kidnapped a police official who was believed to still be held by the EPP at year’s end.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Paraguay pursued individuals suspected of terrorist crimes under laws passed in 2010 and 2011. 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. Counterterrorism functions are handled by the Paraguayan National Police Secretariat for the Prevention and Investigation of Terrorism. Military forces and police officials operated jointly in 2014 in the San Pedro, Concepcion, and Amambay departments, with limited success.
Few steps were taken to address security issues at land border crossings, particularly with respect to the large and generally unprotected borders with Argentina and Brazil. The minimal police and military presence along these borders allowed for a largely unregulated flow of people, contraband, and money. Paraguay’s efforts to provide more effective law enforcement and border security were hampered by a lack of interagency cooperation and information sharing, as well as pervasive corruption within security, border control, and judicial institutions.
Paraguay continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, which provided instruction and resources to assist Paraguay to build its capacity to secure borders and ports of entry to prevent the transit of terrorists and material.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Paraguay is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, and is a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units. Paraguay has both counterterrorist financing legislation and the ability to freeze and confiscate terrorist assets without delay, although there were no terrorist financing convictions or actions to freeze in 2014.
Paraguay requires the collection of data for wire transfers. Paraguay has porous borders that have facilitated a wide variety of illicit activities, however. There is a lack of concerted law enforcement efforts to implement their laws. Significant quantities of money are laundered through businesses or moved in cash. Paraguay does not monitor non-profit organizations to prevent criminal misuse or terrorist financing.
Regional and International Cooperation: Paraguay collaborated with Brazil and Argentina in border protection initiatives, regional exchanges, and discussions on counterterrorism and law enforcement projects. In February, Paraguay was named Vice-President of the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism.
Overview: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) remained a threat to Peru’s internal security, although the terrorist organization was relatively quiet in 2014 in comparison to previous years. SL’s membership numbers continued to dwindle, and it consisted of one single active faction by the end of 2014. Its area of activity and influence was confined to the special military emergency zone known as the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM), a remote and rugged region slightly larger than Switzerland which accounts for over half of the cocaine produced in Peru. SL sustained itself through its involvement in drug production, narcotics trafficking, and by extorting “revolutionary taxes” from others involved in the drug trade. It continued to use Maoist philosophy to justify its illegal activities.
SL was weakened as a consequence of an August 2013 operation conducted by Peruvian security forces that resulted in the deaths of two of the terrorist organization’s top four commanders, Orlando Borda (Comrade Alipio) and Martin Quispe Palomino (Comrade Gabriel). In March, the then-chief of the VRAEM Special Command, Army General Leonardo Longa, claimed that the Shining Path only had around 100 armed fighters left in the emergency zone, concentrating more on criminal activities, primarily drug-related.
According to Peruvian government statistics, the SL committed 20 terrorist acts in 2014, in comparison to 49 terrorist acts recorded in 2013 and 87 acts in 2012. The SL’s reduced activity and relatively low profile in comparison to previous years suggests that it has struggled to reconsolidate in the wake of the deaths of Alipio and Gabriel. Over the course of the year, the terrorist organization pursued a more selective strategy of “shoot-and-run” attacks. In 2014, SL attacks resulted in the deaths of two soldiers and the wounding of six soldiers, two police officers, and seven civilians. In 2013, three soldiers were killed in the VRAEM while 19 members of the security forces lost their lives in armed confrontations with the SL in 2012.
Security forces took limited actions to counter the SL during 2014, reflecting President Humala’s strategy, announced in July 2013, of gaining control of territory in the VRAEM at the lowest cost in human lives. Security forces carried out various operations that freed at least 20 women and children held against their will by SL, as well as arresting or killing several SL members in the VRAEM’s Junin Region.
SL founder and leader Abimael Guzman and key accomplices remained in prison serving life sentences stemming from numerous crimes committed in the 1980s and 1990s.
On October 28 in Lima, Peruvian police arrested Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, a 28-year old Lebanese national, for suspected links to Hizballah. According to reports, officers at the scene found residue and traces of military grade explosives in Hamdar’s apartment, as well as TNT, gunpowder, and detonators in the outdoor trash can assigned to the unit. The National Police announced that Hamdar had confessed to being a member of Hizballah but Hamdar denied this on November 13, saying through a lawyer that the confession had been coerced. In November, a court ordered that Hamdar be detained for up to 18 months in pre-trial detention while prosecutors carry out an investigation and prepare charges.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: Notable SL activity included:
- On February 17, a group of approximately 30 SL fighters attacked a camp that was housing workers expanding the Camisea gas pipeline in Cusco’s Echarate district. The attack left one pipeline worker injured with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
- On October 13, SL snipers opened fire on soldiers providing protection for a construction company working on a road in Ayacucho’s Huanta province. One soldier was killed and four others were wounded.
- On October 28, a SL attack in the Junin province of Satipo left two soldiers wounded.
- On November 18, a SL sniper wounded a soldier in Cusco’s Echarate district.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In the past three decades, Peru has passed a variety of laws specifically designed to combat terrorism. Despite high-level political will to counter terrorism, implementation and interagency coordination remained problematic. Communication gaps between senior-level policy planners and operators on the ground persisted, compounded by the high turnover rate among senior security leaders. In general, relations between the military and the Peruvian National Police were characterized by competition and mistrust. However, cooperation between the specialized counterterrorism police and military units improved.
The government remained hampered by excessive bureaucracy, resource constraints, corruption, and a lack of training. New recruits to the security forces were often sent to emergency zones with inadequate training and were poorly equipped to fight battles in a dense, jungle environment. Corruption was widespread within both the judiciary and security forces.
President Humala continued reauthorizing 60-day states of emergency in the VRAEM and the Upper Huallaga Valley emergency zones, giving the armed forces and police additional authority to maintain public order. The following civil liberties were suspended in emergency zones: freedom from search or arrest without warrant, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and inviolability of citizens’ homes.
Peru steadily improved its ability to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents in the 22 years since police captured the SL’s founder and chief ideologue, Abimael Guzman. Improved cooperation and information sharing between specialized police and military counterterrorism units helped make possible the capture of Artemio in February 2012, and played a major role in the August 2013 military operation that resulted in the deaths of Alipio and Gabriel.
Immigration authorities collected no biometrics information from visitors. Citizens of neighboring countries were allowed to travel to Peru by land using only national identification cards. There was no visa requirement for citizens of most countries in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, as well as Mexico. Peruvian immigration used a database called “Movimiento Migratorio” at 18 points of entry to track entries and exits of travelers, but the database is only a local database that tracks outstanding warrants.
The most significant Peruvian government actions against SL this year included:
- On April 9, Peruvian police arrested 28 leaders of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights – a front organization that advocates for the release of imprisoned SL founder Abimael Guzman. Those arrested included two of Guzman’s long-time lawyers, Afredo Crespo and Manuel Fajardo. The 28 were charged with terrorism and terrorist financing using narcotics revenue. On August 4, the National Anti-Terrorism Court, citing lack of evidence, ordered that the 28 be released from pre-trail detention. Although the court ordered the detainees released, it did keep the charges intact so the trial can move forward.
- A May 16 clash between security forces and the SL in the Junin region left one SL guerilla dead and another wounded. The rest of the column was able to escape, but soldiers recovered weapons, ammunition, and communication equipment.
- On June 17, a combined Peruvian military and police force killed three SL terrorists in the VRAEM emergency zone. The joint patrol recovered a number of weapons, including a heavy machine gun that SL fighters reportedly stripped from a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter they shot down in a 2009 attack that killed three soldiers.
- In August, security forces rescued six adults and three children from a work camp in the VRAEM used by SL to provide food and logistic support for its members.
- In August, police officers in the UHV arrested Oscar Silva, who is believed to have been the second-in-command to “Comrade Artemio,” who was captured in February 2012.
- In September, soldiers rescued 11 people, including six children, who were being forced to work for SL in Junin’s Satipo district.
- On November 2, security forces announced the arrest of Filemon Huillcayaure, considered one of the top financiers of SL in the VRAEM.
On October 28, 2014, Peruvian police arrested Muhammad Amadar, a suspected member of Hizballah, for allegedly plotting attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets.
Peru continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, which provided instruction and resources to assist the country in building its capacity to secure borders and ports of entry to prevent the transit of terrorist and material and to prevent the use of terrorist safe havens.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Peru is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Peru is also a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
In 2014, the Government of Peru made progress in implementing its National Plan to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The most notable advancement was the Public Ministry’s creation of a dedicated Specialized Office of Prosecutors on Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture (ML/AF) in January. The Special Office is led by the National Superior Prosecutor and Coordinator for ML/AF, a new position empowered to facilitate interagency coordination and information sharing.
Under Decree Law 25475, any form of collaboration with terrorism, including economic collaboration, is criminalized. The Peruvian MFA registers non-profit organizations that receive international development assistance and monitors them for general misuse, but does not specifically monitor terrorist financing.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Government of Peru has publicly noted the importance of heavily investing in the VRAEM as a means of breaking the symbiotic relationship that has existed for years between the VRAEM’s residents and SL. Since 2007, the Peruvian government has provided approximately US $5.4 billion to districts and regions in the VRAEM. The funds have been used to pave roads, provide basic health and education services, and establish a greater state presence. In May, the Agriculture Ministry announced that it would invest US $586 million in the VRAEM in 2014 in alternative crops to coca – primarily cacao, coffee, and oil palms. In December, the head of VRAEM Coordinating Office announced that the government would dedicate US $586 million on development projects in the VRAEM in 2015.
The official position of the Peruvian National Penitentiary Institute is that prison is meant to rehabilitate and reintegrate prisoners, especially terrorists. A psychological evaluation is required of incarcerated terrorists before parole can be granted.
Overview: In May, for the ninth 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 Venezuelan government took no action against senior Venezuelan government officials who have been designated as Foreign Narcotics Kingpins by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for directly supporting the narcotics and arms trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The International Development Bank, a subsidiary of the Development and Export Bank of Iran, continued to operate in Venezuela despite its designation in 2008 by the U.S. Treasury Department under E.O. 13382 (“Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and their Supporters”).
There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained a permissive environment that allowed for support of activities that benefited known terrorist groups. Individuals linked to FARC, National Liberation Army, and Basque Fatherland and Liberty were present in Venezuela, as well as Hizballah supporters and sympathizers.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Venezuelan criminal code and additional Venezuelan laws explicitly criminalize terrorism and dictate procedures for prosecuting individuals engaged in terrorist activity. Following a wave of anti-government protests early in 2014, the Venezuelan government introduced a series of counterterrorism laws likely intended to suppress future public demonstrations.
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 duty. The Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and the Division of Counterterrorism Investigations in the Bureau of Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigative Corps within the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace have primary civilian 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 is vulnerable and susceptible to corruption. The Venezuelan government did not perform biographic and biometric screening at ports of entry or exit. There was no automated system to collect advance passenger name records on commercial flights or to cross-check flight manifests with passenger disembarkation data.
In November, the Venezuelan government charged eight individuals, including five Trinidad and Tobago nationals, with terrorism and criminal conspiracy. The Venezuelan Attorney-General reported that the men were arrested in March when Venezuelan security forces raided a Caracas hotel and found them in possession of computers, sophisticated communications gear, and military apparel to allegedly carry out “pre-jihad training.”
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Venezuela is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body; the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission Anti-Money Laundering Group; and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. In July, the CFATF determined that Venezuela had made sufficient progress on the recommendations in Venezuela’s FATF action plan to warrant moving the country from periodic review once every six months to periodic review once every two years. CFATF determined Venezuela was “compliant,” “largely compliant,” or “partially compliant” with the recommendations. CFATF noted Venezuela still needed to improve its compliance with several recommendations as well as its implementation of various anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing (AML-CFT) laws and regulations. Venezuela’s existing AML-CFT legal and regulatory framework criminalizes the financing of terrorism. There was no publicly available information regarding the confiscation of terrorist assets. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Venezuela participated as an official observer in ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. Venezuelan and Colombian foreign ministers met several times throughout the year to address the reduction of smuggling of illegal goods, narcotics trafficking, and the activity of illegally armed groups.
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