Country Report on Terrorism 2018 - Chapter 5 - Shining Path

Aka SL; Sendero Luminoso; Ejército Guerrillero Popular (People’s Guerrilla Army); EGP; Ejército Popular de Liberación (People’s Liberation Army); EPL; Partido Comunista del Peru (Communist Party of Peru); PCP; Partido Comunista del Peru en el Sendero Luminoso de Jose Carlos Mariategui (Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui); Socorro Popular del Peru (People’s Aid of Peru); SPP.

Description: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) was designated as a FTO on October 8, 1997. The Peru-based terrorist organization was formed in the late 1960s by former university professor Abimael Guzman, whose teachings created the foundation of SL’s militant Maoist doctrine. In the 1980s, SL was one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere. In 1992, the Peruvian government captured Guzman who, along with key accomplices, is serving a life sentence in prison. SL is now led by brothers Victor and Jorge Quispe Palomino as well as Tarcela Loya Vilchez. Under their direction, the group aims to overthrow the Peruvian government and names the United States as a principal enemy.

Activities: SL committed 13 terrorist attacks in 2015, in comparison with 20 terrorist acts in 2014 and 49 in 2013. In 2016, SL terrorist attacks declined further. On April 9, 2016, the group attacked a six-vehicle military caravan transporting election materials ahead of the country’s election; eight soldiers and two civilian contractors were killed by SL members armed with long-range rifles and grenades. In separate incidents in 2017, SL killed several policemen in an area where the group controls territory and facilitates drug trafficking.

In June 2018, six soldiers were wounded by SL sharpshooters at the Nueva Libertad military base. Also in June, a group of SL members killed five soldiers and wounded one in an attack at the Nueva Libertad military base in the region of Junín. In the same month, SL members attacked a police vehicle using a roadside bomb, killing four policemen.

Strength: Estimates of SL’s strength vary, but experts assess SL to number between 250 and 300 combatants.

Location/Area of Operation: The group is located in Peru. Almost all its activity takes place in rural areas, specifically the Apurimac, Ene, and Montaro River Valleys of eastern Peru, often referred as the VRAEM.

Funding and External Aid: SL is primarily funded by the illicit narcotics trade.