Overview: Nepal experienced no acts of international terrorism in 2018. Incidents of domestic terrorism, which focused on voter intimidation or targeted government officials during the late-2017 provincial and federal election season, were less common in 2018. The Government of Nepal attributed most of the attacks to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a Maoist faction also known as the “Netra Bikram Chand Group” or “Biplav Group” which split from the mainstream Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) in 2015. Nepal’s security services continue to monitor the Biplav Group. Due to Nepal’s open border with India and insufficient security protocols at the country’s sole international airport in Kathmandu, Nepal has and could continue to be used as a transit or staging point for international terrorists.
2018 Terrorist Incidents: Nepal experienced no acts of international terrorism in 2018. Domestic terrorist incidents included small bombings in various locations throughout the country, for which authorities blamed the Biplav Group. Examples included the following:
- On April 17, in the weeks before Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Nepal, a bomb exploded at the Indian Consulate in Birgunj in southern Nepal, damaging the perimeter wall.
- On April 28, an IED damaged a wall of the Arun-3 Hydroelectric Project, which Prime Minister Modi was scheduled to inaugurate.
- On May 13, authorities located and neutralized small bombs planted in several locations, including the Pokhara Airport and a rural highway bridge, on the same day that the Biplay Group called for a nationwide strike. Another bomb caused superficial damage to a supermarket in Bharatpur in southern central Nepal. No injuries were reported.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The 2017 criminal code, which came into effect in August 2018, does not explicitly mention terrorism, but has broad provisions relating to offenses against the state. It prohibits individuals from building armed military or paramilitary organizations and bars any person from associating with an “organized force” to undermine the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or national unity of Nepal.
The law enforcement entity 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 counterterrorism efforts and receive training in hostage rescue and in responding to hijackings and similar terrorism incidents.
Airport security controls in Nepal are weak and inadequate. 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 national central bureau, which is located at Nepal Police headquarters. 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 there is a lack of sufficient security controls; for example, only one immigration official may be present at the checkpoint. Thus, 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 (APG), a FATF-style regional body. While the Government of Nepal has made symbolic progress in constructing an AML/CFT regime, many regulations and requirements that are in place nominally for these purposes do not actually address AML/CFT trends or dynamics. Additional work is required to develop expertise in financial crimes awareness, prevention, identification, investigations, case management, interagency and departmental coordination, and border control.
Countering Violent Extremism: There were no reported changes in 2018.
International and Regional Cooperation: Nepal is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and signatory of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. Nepal Polices sends two to three officers to INTERPOL’s annual regional counterterrorism seminar.