Country Report on Terrorism 2018 - Chapter 1 - Peru

Overview: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL), a designated FTO, operated in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) – a remote and rugged region that accounts for more than two-thirds of the cocaine produced in Peru. Estimates vary, but most experts and the Peruvian security services assess SL membership to number between 250 and 300 members of which 60 to 150 are armed fighters. Deadly SL attacks against Peru’s security forces in 2018 held steady compared with the previous year. In some instances, SL may have set ambushes in revenge for successful counternarcotic operations. SL helps fund its terrorist activities through its involvement in the drug trade. The group collects “revolutionary taxes” from those involved in the drug trade, and, for a price, provides security and transports narcotics for drug trafficking organizations.

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. Two members returned to prison under new sentences in 2018. Others are due to be released in the coming months and years. On September 11, Peru’s National Criminal Court issued life sentences to 10 former leaders of the SL’s Central Committee, including Guzmán and his wife Elena Iparraguirre, who are already serving life sentences, for the 1992 Tarata Street car bombing that killed 25 people in Lima’s residential Miraflores district. Guzmán and other captured SL figures from the 1980s and 1990s claimed they are no longer associated with the active SL group in the VRAEM emergency zone.

According to local press, Víctor Quispe Palomino (known as Comrade José) claimed in an audio intercepted in June that, after five years of hiding, he was restructuring his remnant of SL, which he called the Militarized Communist Party of Peru (MPCP) in the VRAEM. The son of an SL founder, Victor Quispe Palomino allegedly oversees all MPCP’s illicit activities in the VRAEM, including extortion, murder, and drug trafficking. The Department of State is offering a reward of up to US $5 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction.

2018 Terrorist Incidents: The overall number of terrorist attacks decreased, but the number of deaths of security forces attributable to terrorism rose slightly. Terrorist incidents in 2018 included the following:

  • On June 7, SL members detonated a roadside bomb, killing four police officers as their vehicle passed a sector of the VRAEM known as Huajoto.
  • On June 11, SL members killed five soldiers and wounded another in an attack at the Nueva Libertad military base outside Satipo in the Junín region of the VRAEM.
  • On August 9, SL terrorists killed a soldier during a confrontation with the Joint Command of the Armed Forces in the district of Canayre, Huanta province, in the VRAEM.
  • On October 6, in an apparent attempt to disrupt regional and municipal elections the next day, SL members seriously wounded a naval officer during an attack on the Special Command of the VRAEM.
  • On October 18, SL snipers killed a soldier during an attack on a military patrol in the district of Canayre, Huanta province, in the VRAEM.

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.  There were no significant changes to counterterrorism legislation in 2018.

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

  • On June 19, Peru and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 (HSPD-6) to share information about known and suspected terrorists.
  • On September 19, Peruvian security forces killed two SL members and wounded two others during an operation in the Ayacucho region. One of those killed was the mid-level leader “Basilio,” who reportedly provided security for SL leadership. Two other SL members were wounded and detained.
  • On November 7, 34 years after SL terrorists massacred 26 farmers in Peru’s mountainous Ayacucho region, Peruvian authorities identified and handed over the victims’ remains to their families.

Regarding border security, immigration authorities collected limited biometrics information from visitors. Record numbers of migrants fleeing Venezuela and entering Peru prompted the government to require passports for Venezuelans entering the country. There was no visa requirement for citizens of most countries from Europe, Southeast Asia, and Central America (except El Salvador and Nicaragua).

Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, a Lebanese citizen suspected of links to Hizballah, remained in custody. His April 2017 conviction was subsequently overturned by the Peruvian Supreme Court, with a retrial scheduled for January 2019.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Peru is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT), a 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.

On June 26, the Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN, along with the Permanent Missions of France and Nigeria and the UNODC organized an event, “Challenges Identifying, Monitoring and Countering the Financing of Terrorist Groups and Individuals,” on the margins of the UN General Assembly Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review and the UN High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States. Participants exchanged views on the different means through which terrorist organizations and individuals finance themselves and their activities, and current challenges in identifying, investigating, disrupting, and monitoring financial flows aimed at financing terrorism.

For additional information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism: On October 12, the Government of Peru approved the VRAEM 2021 Development Strategy, a multi-sectorial plan to consolidate opportunities for sustainable social and economic development as part of its bicentennial vision. The National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs will coordinate the comprehensive development strategy.

International and Regional Cooperation: Peru participated in counterterrorism activities in international and regional organizations, including the UN, the Organization of American States/Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, the Union of South American Nations, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. On January 1, Peru assumed the chair of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee for two years. The Counter-Terrorism Directorate, a branch of the National Police of Peru, coordinated with police agencies in other countries to track the activities of domestic terrorist organizations abroad. In December, a Peruvian delegation participated in the “Practitioner’s Workshop on Hizballah’s Evolving Modus Operandi for its Terrorist and Illicit Activities” held in Lyon, France.