Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 5 - Shining Path (SL)

Aka SL; Sendero Luminoso; Ejército Guerrillero Popular; EGP; Ejército Popular de Liberación; 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; SPP, Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui, Communist Party of Peru, People’s Aid of Peru, People’s Guerrilla Army; People’s Liberation Army

Description:  The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) was designated as an 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 and 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 attacks have declined in recent years.  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.  In the same month, a group of SL members killed five soldiers and wounded another in an attack on the Nueva Libertad military base in the region of Junín, and attacked a police vehicle using a roadside bomb, killing four policemen.

In June 2019, suspected SL members conducted an attack on the Peruvian Army, killing three soldiers.

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

Location/Area of Operation:  Peru

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