Country Report on Terrorism 2017 - Chapter 1 - Peru

Overview: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) operated in 2017 in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) – a remote and rugged region slightly larger than Tennessee that accounts for more than two-thirds of the cocaine produced in Peru. Estimates of SL’s strength vary, but most experts and the Peruvian security services assess SL to number 250 to 300 members of which 60 to 150 are armed fighters. Deadly SL attacks against Peru’s security forces in 2017 held steady compared to the previous year. In some instances, SL may have set ambushes in revenge for successful counternarcotic operations.

SL is involved in all logistical aspects of drug trafficking in its area of influence. It collects “revolutionary taxes” from those involved in the drug trade, and, for a price, provides security and transports narcotics for drug trafficking organizations. SL continued to use Maoist ideology to justify its illegal activities and armed opposition to the Peruvian government.

SL founder Abimael Guzmán and key accomplices remain in prison serving life sentences for numerous crimes committed in the 1980s and 1990s. Many former SL members and leaders have served 25 to 30 year sentences on terrorism charges. Several members were released from prison in 2017 and others are due to be released in the coming months and years. The Peruvian courts are re-trying 12 imprisoned SL leaders, including Guzman, for the 1992 Tarata Street bombing in Miraflores that killed 25 people. Guzmán and other captured SL figures from the 1980s and 1990s are no longer associated with the active SL group in the VRAEM emergency zone.

2017 Terrorist Incidents:

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Over the past three decades, Peru has decreed a variety of laws specifically designed to counter terrorism. These measures have broad political and public support. On July 19, the Government of Peru amended its “terrorism apology” law, which prohibits making public statements that justify or defend terrorism. The amendments increase the punishment for publicly sympathizing with terrorism and lower the threshold to press charges. On November 4, Congress added a provision to Peru’s electoral code to prohibit Peruvians convicted of terrorism or supporting terrorism from running for public office.

The most significant Peruvian government actions against SL this year were:

The Minister of Defense announced on August 2 the formation of a 400-strong joint police and military unit focused on targeting the Shining Path and pacifying the VRAEM.

On border security, immigration authorities collected limited biometrics information from visitors. Citizens of South American countries were allowed to travel to Peru by land using only national identification cards. There was no visa requirement for citizens of most countries from Europe, Southeast Asia, and Central America (except El Salvador and Nicaragua).

In October 2014, Peruvian police arrested Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, a Lebanese citizen suspected of links to Hizballah. According to reports, there was residue and traces of explosives in Hamdar’s apartment. On April 20, a Peruvian court acquitted Hamdar of terrorism charges, but sentenced him to six years in prison for using false documents. On October 20, the Peruvian Supreme Court overturned Hamdar’s acquittal. He remains in custody with a retrial scheduled for early 2018.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Peru is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The Financial Intelligence Unit of Peru is a member of the Egmont Group. Under Decree Law 25475, Peru criminalizes any form of collaboration with terrorists, including providing financial support. 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): The Government of Peru stressed the importance of heavily investing in the VRAEM as a means of ending the relationship between VRAEM residents and SL. The Government of Peru allocated approximately US $523 million in the VRAEM in 2017 for economic development and pacification efforts.

International and Regional Cooperation: Peru participates in counterterrorism activities in international and regional organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization of American States and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, and the Union of South American Nations.