U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - Colombia

The Government of Colombia, facing a domestic terrorist threat, continued vigorous law enforcement, intelligence, military, and economic measures against three designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Colombia worked with neighboring countries to thwart terrorist expansion, investigate terrorist activities inside and outside Colombia, seize assets, and bring terrorists to justice. The U.S.-Colombia extradition relationship remained one of the most successful in the world. The Colombian Government cooperated fully with U.S. efforts to recover three U.S. citizens kidnapped by the FARC in February 2003, and remained amenable, despite FARC duplicity, to third-party proposals for a hostage-prisoner exchange. Colombian terror groups, while weakened, continued to murder, kidnap, and terrorize Colombians from all walks of life.

The Uribe administration maintained its focus on demobilizing or defeating Colombia's terrorist groups. In the course of demobilizing combatants, the armed forces debriefed terrorist group deserters for detailed information on their terrorist cells. The Justice and Peace Law that offers judicial benefits and reduced custodial sentences for qualifying demobilizing terrorists requires all participants to confess fully their crimes as members of a terrorist group. Justice and Peace beneficiaries must also return all illicit profits.

Colombia worked closely with the United States to block terrorists' assets. Colombian financial institutions, on orders of the government, closed many narcotrafficking and terrorism-related accounts.

Colombia emerged as a leader for improving counterterrorism capabilities and for strengthening political will to combat terrorism in the region. Colombia was the first country to offer assistance to Paraguay in the wake of a shocking kidnap-murder there linked to the FARC. Colombia became the Vice-Chair of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE).

Colombia extradited more than 130 criminals to the United States, the vast majority of whom were Colombian nationals. In February, Colombia extradited FARC financier Omaira Rojas Cabrera "Sonia." In November, Colombian officials arrested Farouk Sheikh Reyes on suspicion of distributing more than 600 tons of cocaine to Europe and the United States to fund multiple Colombian illegal armed groups. Among the greatest concerns of FARC, ELN, and AUC leaders is the threat of extradition to the United States.

The FARC continued tactical-level terrorist and narcotrafficking activities despite the ongoing military campaign against it. The FARC targeted rural outposts, infrastructure, and several political adversaries; their crimes and suspected crimes include:

  • kidnapping 11 people over the Easter holiday;
  • killing six municipal councilors and an official, and wounding many others, during a city council meeting in May;
  • bombing nine electrical towers in the Atlantic Coast region, causing widespread power outages for several days;
  • killing 21 soldiers and wounding 11 in southeastern Putumayo Department in 12 simultaneous strikes in June; and
  • injuring nine bystanders with a remote-controlled 50-kilogram explosive device that missed Colombian Senator German Vargas Lleras. More than 400 other persons sustained damage to their property. The FARC denied responsibility, but the Colombian Government has not ruled it out as the perpetrator.

Three Irish Republican Army (IRA) members awaiting final sentencing for training the FARC on IRA bomb tactics fled Colombian parole and resurfaced in Ireland in August. They were detained and questioned by the Irish national police but released without charge. The Colombian Government requested their extradition. Ireland does not have an extradition treaty with Colombia, but the case remains under review. The Irish Director of Public Prosecutions is investigating whether charges can be brought against one of the three for traveling on a false passport.

After abandoning talks with a Mexican intermediary, the ELN began preliminary talks with the Colombian government in Decemeber 2005 in Cuba, but had not yet agreed to begin a formal peace process. The group continues to fight but has limited resources and dwindling membership. The ELN had its first mass desertion in June, when a 29-person unit surrendered to officials. The ELN boasted that it removed landmines from a rural area, but refused to let the government verify such removal.

Pursuant to the AUC's 2003 agreement with the Colombian Government, some 23, 000 AUC and allied combatants demobilized over the past two years. As of November, the government's goal was to demobilize all AUC members by the end of March 2006 and ensure their reincorporation into civil society by the end of 2007. AUC-authored murders in remained roughly at 2004 levels, while its overall level of violence decreased. Cease-fire violations targeted civilians and included mass killings, kidnappings, assassinations, illegal evictions, robberies, and impressments of children.


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