Country Reports on Terrorism 2014 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: National Liberation Army

aka ELN; Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional

Description: The National Liberation Army (ELN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The ELN is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist group formed in 1964. It is primarily rural-based, although it also has several urban units. The ELN remains focused on attacking economic infrastructure, in particular oil and gas pipelines and electricity pylons, and extorting foreign and local companies. The Colombian government began exploratory peace talks with the ELN in January 2014, although formal peace negotiations had not started by year's end.

Activities: The ELN engages in kidnappings, hijackings, bombings, drug trafficking, and extortion activities. The group also uses intimidation of judges, prosecutors, and witnesses; and has been involved in the murders of teachers and trade unionists. The group has targeted Colombia's infrastructure, particularly oil pipelines and equipment. In recent years, including 2014, the ELN launched joint attacks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia's largest terrorist organization.

During 2014, the ELN launched fewer attacks against oil pipelines, but according to Colombian authorities, the group caused more damage than in 2013. The ELN was responsible for eighty percent of the pipeline attacks in 2014. On June 20, the ELN bombed a police station in Bogota injuring three people. On June 29, the group attacked a pipeline in Arauca department which resulted in 13 people injured and suspended production at the Occidental Petroleum Corporation's oil field. In a demonstration of its ability to attack the capital city and in advance of the August presidential election, the ELN placed five leaflet bombs in Bogota on July 29, with several exploding prior to detection. On September 14, an ELN sniper shot dead two workers sent to repair a damaged section of an oil pipeline that had been bombed by the group near the town of Teorama, Norte de Santander.

Strength: Approximately 2,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters.

Location/Area of Operation: Mostly in the rural and mountainous areas of northern, northeastern, and southwestern Colombia, as well as the border regions with Venezuela.

Funding and External Aid: The ELN draws its funding from the illicit narcotics trade and from extortion of oil and gas companies. Additional funds are derived from kidnapping ransoms. There is no known external aid.


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