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Cablegate: Peru: 2008 Country Reports On Terrorism

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #1938/01 3541710
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191710Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9760

UNCLAS LIMA 001938

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR S/CT:RSHORE AND NCTC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PTER PE
SUBJECT: PERU: 2008 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM

REF: STATE 120019


1. (U) Embassy point of contact is John Robertson
(robertsonjc@state.gov or 51-1-618-2514).

2. (SBU) Text of draft submission follows:

Peru

Peru's primary counterterrorism concern remained fighting
remnants of the militant Maoist Sendero Luminoso (SL or
Shining Path), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization
that convulsed the country in the 1980s and 1990s at a cost
of more than 69,000 lives. SL remnants in the Upper Huallaga
River Valley (UHV) sought to regroup and replenish their
ranks following significant setbacks suffered in 2007.
Separately, the SL organization in the Apurimac and Ene River
Valley (VRAE) maintained its control over the area and
opposed Government of Peru efforts to combat it. Both groups
continued to engage in drug trafficking, and during the year
carried out 64 terrorist acts in remote coca-growing areas
that killed at least 12 police, four civilians, and 15
members of the military.

Although the Fujimori government nearly eliminated SL in the
1990s, the organization, now entwined with narcotics
trafficking, remains a threat. The two Sendero organizations
combined were thought to number several hundred armed
combatants. While today's SL is shorter on revolutionary
zeal than in the past, analysts believe leaders continue to
use Maoist philosophy to justify their illicit activities.

Involvement in drug production and trafficking provided SL
with funding to conduct operations, allowing it to improve
relations with local communities in remote areas and to
recruit new members. While SL in the UHV worked during the
year to recuperate from losses suffered in 2007, insufficient
government presence in the more remote VRAE allowed the
organization there to continue operating.

VRAE: Significant events in 2008
---------------------------------

On March 5, five armed attackers killed two Peruvian National
Police (PNP) officers near the town of Chanchamayo in Junin
department.

On March 23, an estimated 30 Sendero members ambushed an
anti-drug police unit near Quinua in Ayacucho department,
killing one.

On April 30, SL attackers killed two civilians who were
acting as guides for military personnel, near the town of
Ancoin in Ayacucho department.

On June 27, Sendero members attacked troops on a
counternarcotics operation near Sivia in Ayacucho department,
killing one.

On October 9, in northern Huancavelica department, SL
triggered a remotely activated bomb underneath a Peruvian
Army truck returning soldiers to a nearby base. The
attackers then opened fire from both sides of the road,
killing 14 soldiers and 2 civilians. Sixteen others were
wounded, three of them critically. It was the deadliest
Sendero attack since the 1992 capture of Sendero founder
Abimael Guzman.

On November 16, an SL ambush killed three PNP officers in the
town of Huanta in northern Ayacucho.

In late August,the Army began an offensive called "Operation
Excellence," aimed at taking control of the Vizcatan region
in northern Ayacucho department. While there were unconfirmed
reports of SL casualties, the military suffered losses in a
number of SL attacks in response to the offensive.

Implementation of the Garcia government's "Plan VRAE," which
called for 2,000 troops and 19 anti-terrorism bases operated
under a central command is still evolving. Plans for new
health, education, and infrastructure investment in these
isolated communities where the state lacks presence were not
implemented, although new Prime Minister Yehude Simon led a
full cabinet delegation to the VRAE in November to evaluate
the situation.

UHV: Significant events in 2008
-------------------------------

During the period June 2007 to November 2008 the "Huallaga
Police Front" (a an initiateve begun in 2006 under
then-President Toledo)
prosecuted a counterterrorism campaign
in the UHV and captured more than 100 alleged SL members,
including one national-level leader; seized dozens of
weapons, explosives and ammunition; destroyed 27 SL camps;
and broke up an urban cell that served as an intelligence
link.

On October 14, suspected Sendero elements attacked a PNP
vehicle traveling on the highway north of Tingo Maria in
Huanuco department, firing on it from both sides of the road.
Two of the five officers inside were injured, one of whom
later died.

On November 26, Suspected Sendero attackers ambushed a PNP
convoy on the highway some 20 kilometers north of Tingo Maria
in Huanuco department , killing five police and wounding four
others.

Other Information
-----------------

Government efforts to improve interagency cooperation,
especially in intelligence, and to strengthen prosecutorial
capacity were somewhat successful. Police units specializing
in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics conducted some
joint operations with the Peruvian Army in the UHV.

President Garcia continued reauthorizing a 60-day state of
emergency in parts of Peru's five departments where SL
operates, suspending some civil liberties, and giving the
armed forces additional authority to maintain public order.
There was no movement on President Garcia's 2006 proposal
calling for the death penalty for those convicted of acts of
terrorism.

The Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) has not
conducted terrorist activities since the December 1996
hostage-taking at the Japanese Ambassador's residence in
Lima. Efforts to reconstitute an organizational structure
were not in evidence in 2008, though former MRTA members were
working to establish a political party called the Free
Fatherland Movement ("Movimiento Patria Libre") to compete in
future elections.

There was no evidence that foreign terrorists were using Peru
as a safe haven.

SL founder and leader Abimael Guzman and key accomplices
remained in prison serving life sentences on charges stemming
from crimes committed during the 1980s and 1990s.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) continued
to use remote areas along the Colombian/Peruvian border for
rest and to make arms purchases. Experts believed the FARC
continued to fund coca cultivation and cocaine production
among the Peruvian population in border areas.

End of Peru report.
McKinley

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