USDOS – US Department of State (Autor)
Overview: Nepal experienced no acts of terrorism directed against U.S. or Western targets in 2017. However, Nepal did see an increase in incidents of terrorism against domestic targets, largely surrounding elections held in late 2017. The Government of Nepal attributed the majority of the attacks to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a Maoist faction also known as the “Netra Bikram Chand Group” or “Biplav Group” that split from the mainstream Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) several years ago. In response to these incidents, Nepal’s security organs largely directed their counterterrorism efforts against the Biplav Group, forming special teams to identify and arrest its leaders.
2017 Terrorist Incidents: Nepal experienced an increase in terrorist attacks during the year, primarily in connection with local, provincial, and national elections held around the country in April, June, September, November, and December. None of these attacks were directed against U.S. or Western targets. It was generally believed that these attacks, which resulted in one death and multiple injuries, were intended to intimidate political candidates, convince voters to stay home, and undermine the elections. The incidents initially resulted only in property damage and minor injuries, but they increased in frequency and severity later in the year. By the time elections ended in early December, more than 100 such attacks had occurred throughout Nepal, resulting in one death and numerous injuries. In the lead-up to the various phases of elections, security forces found and defused IEDs before they could explode. For example, the Nepalese Army defused an IED discovered near a voting center in Dhading district on November 25. The attacks increased in sophistication toward the end of the year, with one IED that detonated at an early December election rally held for Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba that resulted in injuries to nine people, four of them critically. On December 7, the Biplav Group publicly claimed responsibility for all of the elections-related IED attacks, but the group later retracted this statement. The Nepal Police announced on December 6 that around 600 Biplav Group cadres had been detained for anti-election activities. The attacks largely ceased as campaigning stopped in the days before the last set of polls opened on December 7.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no significant legislative changes since 2016.
The law enforcement organ directly responsible for counterterrorism activities is the Special Bureau of the Nepal Police. This unit consists of approximately 120 officers. The Special Bureau is supplemented by Nepal Police and Armed Police Force officers when necessary. The Nepalese Army Special Forces units are tasked with incident counterterrorism response and received training in hostage rescue, response to hijackings, and similar terrorism incidents. The Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program in courses that included Explosive Detection Canine Handlers Course (EDCHC), Combatting Domestic and Transnational Terrorism, Fraudulent Document Recognition – Behavioral Analysis, and Post Blast Investigation. The EDCHC also included the granting of five explosive detection trained canines. In addition, between 300 and 500 Nepali Police, immigration, and airline personnel received a three-day training on travel document security features that included imposter recognition.
Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport – Nepal’s only international airport – does not pre-screen passengers, and landing data are not entered into any database. Physical security checks of passengers are rudimentary. There is no travel document security and the airport lacks ultraviolet lights to examine documents. The Special Bureau of the Nepal Police assigns approximately 10 personnel to the airport and approximately 15 officers to its INTERPOL office, which is located at Nepal Police headquarters. The INTERPOL office, however, has no designated personnel at Tribhuvan International Airport. INTERPOL notices are maintained in a database, but passengers are not routinely screened through this database. Security and immigration officials are generally responsive to U.S. requests for information, but often have little information to provide.
Nepal shares an open border with India. The 1,000-mile border has a few checkpoints, but they lack sufficient security controls and are sometimes manned by as few as one immigration official. Most people crossing the border are neither stopped nor checked, and the crossing points can easily be circumvented to avoid scrutiny. The primary constraint preventing more robust border-control capability is a lack of resources. The security services lack the personnel, technology, databases, basic equipment, and often even electrical power to provide effective border control. Additional constraints include lack of training and widespread corruption.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Nepal belongs to the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. While the Government of Nepal has made progress in constructing an anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, additional work is required to develop expertise in financial crimes investigations, case management, interagency and departmental coordination, and border control. In February, the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate facilitated a workshop in Nepal attended by judges, prosecutors, and investigators and focused on terrorist financing and anti-money laundering. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): There were no significant changes since 2016.
International and Regional Cooperation: The Nepal police sent three officers to the annual regional counterterrorism seminar hosted by INTERPOL. In April, Nepal engaged in a joint exercise with China focused on anti-hijacking. Nepal also engaged in a two-week joint exercise with India focused on counter-insurgency.