Country Report on Terrorism 2016 - Chapter 6 - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

aka FARC; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia

Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Latin America’s oldest, largest, and best‑equipped terrorist organization. The FARC, founded in the 1960s, is responsible for large numbers of kidnappings-for-ransom in Colombia and, in past years, has held as many as 700 hostages. A Colombian military offensive targeting key FARC units and leaders degraded its capacity and halved the FARC’s numbers to approximately 7,000. After four years of negotiation in Havana, Cuba, a peace agreement was crafted which, after an unsuccessful plebiscite and further negotiation, was approved by Colombia’s Congress on November 30, 2016, which put in motion a six-month disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process. In accordance with the peace agreement, the FARC began to demobilize in early December under UN supervision.

Activities: Over the years, the FARC has perpetrated a large number of high profile terrorist acts, including the 1999 murder of three U.S. missionaries working in Colombia, and multiple kidnappings and assassinations of Colombian government officials and civilians. In July 2008, the Colombian military conducted a dramatic rescue of 15 high-value FARC hostages including U.S. Department of Defense contractors Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howe, who were held captive for more than five years, along with former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

In 2016, there were no significant attacks by the FARC, but there have been reports of continued extortion and threats against local officials.

Strength: Approximately 7,000 members, with several thousand additional supporters.

Location/Area of Operation: FARC leaders and combatants are located in Colombia and have been known to use neighboring countries for weapons sourcing and logistical planning.

Funding and External Aid: In 2016, the FARC was primarily funded by extortion and the international drug trade.