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Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Colombia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 18 August 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Colombia, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e5248302d.html [accessed 30 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: The Colombian government continued its vigorous military, law enforcement, intelligence, and economic measures against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and remaining elements of the demobilized United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Colombia continued to increase its international counterterrorism cooperation and training efforts. As of October 31, the Colombian government reported that more than 2,000 members of the FARC and ELN demobilized in 2010, more than 1,500 were captured, and more than 400 were killed in military or police operations.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: Despite its weakened state, the FARC still numbered approximately 8,000 members, and continued terrorist attacks, extortion, and kidnapping. The group increased its use of land mines, ambushes, snipers, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The FARC also used non-uniformed militia members to carry out terrorist attacks, especially in more populated areas. The FARC continued narcotics trafficking activities, bombed military and civilian targets in urban areas, and targeted rural outposts, police stations, infrastructure, and local political leaders. The Colombian government reported that 391 members of the military and police forces were killed in the first 10 months of 2010, while 1,681 were injured and another 211 were injured or killed by land mines. Some independent Colombian organizations reported higher 2010 public security force casualty figures.

Examples of 2010 terrorist activity attributed to the FARC included:

  • On February 13, the FARC ambushed gubernatorial candidate Jose Alberto Perez near San Jose de Guaviare, injuring him and killing four police officers.

  • On March 24, the FARC detonated a powerful car bomb on a crowded street in downtown Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca Province, next to the offices of the prosecutor general and the mayor. Ten were killed in the attack, and more than 50 were wounded.

  • On March 25, the FARC convinced an unsuspecting 12-year-old to carry an explosive device to a police station in Charco, Nariño Province. The FARC detonated the bomb, killing the child and wounding five others, including two police officers.

  • On August 12, the FARC detonated a powerful car bomb in north Bogota in front of the Caracol Media Building, injuring nine civilians and causing significant property damage.

  • On September 1, a sophisticated FARC roadside IED attack and ambush killed 14 Colombian National Police officers and wounded nine others unit near Doncello, Caqueta Province.

  • On November 30, the FARC tricked a bus driver into carrying a powerful bomb in Vegalarga, Huila, and detonated the explosive while it was parked in front of a police station, killing the driver, and wounding 10 police officers and a civilian.

The ELN remained active with approximately 1,250 fighters, but with diminished resources and a reduced capability. Still, the ELN continued to inflict numerous casualties on the Colombian military through use of land mines and ambushes. The ELN financed its operations through drug trafficking, kidnapping, and extortion. Reaffirming their pact of non-aggression announced in December 2009, there was some increase in the FARC and ELN level of cooperation against Colombian security forces in 2010, but long-existing rivalries remained in many areas.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Colombian government continued vigorous military, law enforcement, intelligence, and economic measures against the FARC, ELN, and remaining elements of the demobilized AUC. Extradition to the United States remained an important tool for bringing drug traffickers and terrorists to justice. Colombia extradited 148 defendants to the United States in 2010 for prosecution, and 1,200 have been extradited since July 4, 1991; most were Colombian nationals. The Colombian government sought to extend the legislation allowing for individual demobilizations from these terrorist groups, and proposed legislation to address legal issues associated with the earlier demobilization of approximately 17,000 of the over 32,000 demobilized members of the AUC.

On September 23, the Colombian government announced that FARC Secretariat member and Eastern Bloc commander Victor Julio Suarez Rojas (alias "Mono Jojoy") was killed in a joint police and military operation. Mono Jojoy had more than a dozen convictions and 60 orders for capture for terrorism, murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping, and forcible recruitment of minors. He had also been indicted for the March 1999 killing of three U.S. citizens (Ingrid Washinawatch, Kah'ena'e Gay, and Terence Freitas). On June 13, Colombian forces rescued three Colombian police and one Army hostage who had been held captive by the FARC for nearly 12 years. Although the FARC's supreme commander, Guillermo León Sáenz (alias "Alfonso Cano"), evaded capture, Colombian security forces also captured or killed a number of mid-level FARC leaders during the year.

Public forces continued to debrief terrorist group deserters for detailed information on their respective units, and reduced the amount of territory where terrorists could freely operate. The Colombian military and police destroyed caches of weapons and supplies, and reduced the groups' financial resources through counternarcotics operations.

Colombia participated in the Megaports and Container Security Initiatives.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Colombia cooperated with the United States to block terrorists' assets, and Colombian authorities and police carried out several operations during the year to arrest and charge financial support networks of the FARC. Aerial and manual eradication of illicit drugs in Colombia destroyed approximately 143,000 hectares of illegal drug crops as of December 3, thus depriving terrorist groups of potentially huge profits. All Colombian financial institutions immediately close drug trafficking and terrorism-related accounts on Colombian government orders or in response to sanctions designations by the United States. The Colombian financial sector is proactive in the filing of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with the Colombian Financial Intelligence Unit (UIAF), and the Colombian government has now extended its SAR requirements to casinos, public notaries, and other non-financial sectors.

The United States carried out two major designation actions against over 100 financial targets associated with narcotics traffickers and money launderers tied to the FARC pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. Both actions were tied to ongoing Colombian money laundering investigations of the same targets. In June, UIAF hosted the annual Egmont plenary for more than 100 member financial intelligence units worldwide in Cartagena, Colombia, which recognized Colombia's global role and regional leadership in efforts to investigate and analyze money laundering and terrorist financing cases.

Regional and International Cooperation: The Colombian government expanded its role as a regional leader in counterterrorism, continued to seek enhanced regional counterterrorism cooperation to eliminate terrorist safe havens in vulnerable border areas, and provided counterterrorism training to officials from partner countries across the region. Colombia and Mexico significantly increased joint training and operations against narco-terrorist organizations operating in both countries. Colombia enjoyed positive relations with and cooperated on border security with Panama, Peru, and Brazil.

Colombia and Ecuador formally restored diplomatic relations in December, which Ecuador had broken in March 2008 following a Colombian military attack against a FARC camp inside Ecuadorean territory. Relations with Venezuela deteriorated in the first half of 2010, with Colombia publicly accusing the Venezuelan Government of harboring and aiding top FARC and ELN leaders in its territory. Relations with Venezuela were restored, however, after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took office in August. In November, the Venezuelan government extradited one FARC and two ELN members to Colombia.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Colombian government maintained strategic communications aimed at countering terrorist propaganda and sought to increase individual demobilizations. The government proposed potentially transformative legislative agenda on victims and land restitution, and began implementing an initial plan to return and formalize land for 130,000 families.

The Colombian government continued to process and investigate demobilized AUC members under the Justice and Peace Law (JPL), which offers judicial benefits and reduced prison sentences for qualifying demobilizing terrorists. The law requires all participants to confess fully to their crimes as members of a terrorist group and to return all illicit profits. More than 32,000 rank-and-file ex-AUC members who did not commit serious crimes have demobilized, and many were receiving benefits through the government's reintegration program, including psychosocial attention, education, healthcare, and career development opportunities. Three senior leaders of the AUC have been convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison under the JPL process. Over 160,000 victims have registered under JPL, although Colombian government efforts to create measures to provide reparations to victims stalled. Some former paramilitaries continued to engage in criminal activities after demobilization, mostly in drug trafficking. The Colombian government refers to these criminal groups as criminal bands, and estimated their membership at more than 3,500, while non-governmental organizations estimate membership at 6,000 or more.

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