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Cablegate: Ecuador: 2005 Country Reports On Terrorism

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 QUITO 002866

SIPDIS

S/CT - RHONDA SHORE, S/CT - ED SALAZAR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV KJUS MARR CASC ASEC EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR: 2005 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM

REF: SECSTATE 193439

1. Embassy Quito's contribution to the 2005 Country Report
on Terrorism report follows, keyed to questions in Reftel
(paras 7-10). Embassy POC is PolOff Jarahn Hillsman,
593-2-256-2890 ext 4471, unclass email Hillsmanjd@state.gov,
classified email Hillsmanjd@state.sgov.gov, fax
593-2-254-0712.

2. (SBU) General Assessment:

Overview: The GOE does not provide financial support,
training, or sanctuary to international terrorist groups.
Ecuador's primary contribution to the Global War on Terrorism
continues to be its campaign to prevent the spread of
narcoterrorism in Ecuador. The GOE,s historical neglect of
the 400-mile northern border with Colombia, the lack of licit
employment opportunities in the border area, and its
proximity to rebel-held Colombian territory had made this
zone ripe for narcoterrorist influence and recruitment.
However, high-level GOE support for greater engagement in the
north is evident in the GOE,s recent troop shifts to the
border region, its sustained effort to combat FARC presence
in Ecuador, military-to-military cooperation between Ecuador
and Colombia, and its willingness to work with USAID and
other donors to create licit economic opportunities along the
northern border. Even more aggressive engagement will be
needed to counter the narcoterrorist threat as Colombian
government forces succeed in their efforts against the FARC
and illegal armed groups.

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Military CT Efforts: Since the irregular change in
government in April 2005, the GOE has increased its security
posture along the northern border. The Ecuadorian military
claims to have increased troop deployment from 8,000 (in
2004) to between 9,000 and 10,000. The Ministry of Defense
has also increased patrolling and operations units along the
border, and plans to mobilize new units in Imbabura province.
Beginning January 2006, the MOD will initiate the Petroleum
Infrastructure Security Force to protect oil refineries,
pipelines, and white gas centers from terrorist attack,
allowing northern border units to better focus their efforts
in the region. An increase in the purchasing of U.S.
military equipment for use along the northern border, and the
Ecuadorian Army,s Special Operations Group,s increased
counterterrorist activities have also been evident. There
are positive indications that military-to-military
communication between Ecuador and Colombia is improving at
all levels.

The GOE,s stepped-up patrol efforts along the northern
border bore fruit in September when the Ecuadorian military
discovered and destroyed a suspected FARC refuge camp in the
province of Sucumbios. A drug processing plant was also
discovered and destroyed by patrol units. Nevertheless, the
Ecuadorian military remains resource-challenged. USG
assistance and effort continues to be vital to buttressing
GOE forces and spurring them to conduct more frequent and
wide-ranging patrols. However, Article 98 sanctions continue
to restrict GOE access to a full range of USG funding
resources.

Law Enforcement CT Efforts: The GOE arrested and rendered to
Colombia Senior FARC leaders in 2005. In September, for
example, Marcial Compana, a key FARC financial facilitator,
was captured by Ecuadorian authorities and promptly
surrendered to Colombia. The GOE also cracked down on
clandestine FARC combat injury clinics operating in Ecuador.
In February, Ecuadorian police forces raided a clinic in
Quito, capturing 16 individuals of Ecuadorian and Colombian
nationality. A key FARC commander and four sympathizers were
captured in July at a different clinic in Quito. In each
instance, the GOE swiftly delivered the Colombians to the GOC.

The GOE also advanced on the counter-narcotics front, seizing
34 metric tons of cocaine (a ten-fold increase over 2004),
270 kilograms of heroin, and 174 kilograms of cannabis
(January-October 2005). Security forces located and
destroyed over 36,000 cultivated coca plants in 2005,
significantly more than found in 2004. GOE units also
secured major white gas trafficking lines out of the
Sucumbios Province, seizing over 116,000 liters during 2005.

The staffing of the Counternarcotics Directorate (DNA) of the
National Police was increased from 1305 to 1385 officers in
2005. The DNA, with USG financial assistance, also opened
new bases and stations in the Esmeraldas and Imbabura
provinces. USG-supported DNA infrastructure projects are in
construction or design phases in the northern border
provinces of Esmeraldas, Carchi and Sucumbios.

U.S. Coast Guard officials conducted courtesy inspections of
Ecuador's four international ports in February 2005 to
determine if they met International Ship and Port Facility
Security Code (ISPS) requirements. The USCG found the GOE
facilities to be on schedule for meeting international
standards.

Alien smuggling continues to be a serious problem in Ecuador,
with Special Interest Aliens (SIAs) among the cargo. In
response, the GOE operates a dedicated anti-smuggling police
unit, COAC, funded in part by the USG. Cooperation is
excellent, with COAC working with DHS officials to identify,
investigate, and remove SIAs. The GOE has expressed
high-level interest in expanding COAC,s reach, proposing to
open special units in Guayaquil and Cuenca. The GOE is
seeking national funds to support this effort, while also
requesting USG support.

Legislative CT Efforts: Congress passed a landmark
anti-money laundering law in October, a major step against
money laundering and terrorism financing. The new law
criminalizes the laundering of illicit funds from any source
and penalizes the undeclared entry of more than $10,000 in
cash. The law calls for the creation of a financial
intelligence unit (FIU) under the Superintendency of Banks.
Implementing regulations are currently being developed by the
GOE. The Embassy is working with the Organization of
American States Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission
(CICAD) and the GOE to support the creation of the FIU.
Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against
Terrorism remains pending before the Ecuadorian Congress.

In August 2005, following the sinking of an overloaded
migrant ship near the Galapagos and the subsequent drowning
of an estimated 104 intending immigrants, the Ecuadorian
Congress began debating whether to increase sentences for
alien smugglers convicted of causing the death of migrants.
A proposal that would increase penalties against smugglers
and broaden the net to allow for the arrest of more
accomplices, is currently stalled, pending redrafting.

Judicial CT Efforts: There were no noteworthy
counterterrorism actions by Ecuador's judicial system in
2005. Judicial institutions remain weak and corrupt. While
military and police have made numerous arrests, prosecutions
in general are impeded by the dysfunctional judicial system,
which until recently lacked a functioning Supreme Court. The
Constitutional Court has been vacant since November 2004.

Financial CT Efforts: The GOE Superintendency of Banks has
cooperated with the USG by instructing financial institutions
to report transactions involving known terrorists, as
designated by the United States or by the UN 1267 Sanctions
Committee. However, no terrorist financial assets have been
identified to date in Ecuador.

Embassy Security: Between November 2004 and November 2005,
over 30 anti-American demonstrations occurred in Quito, many
near the Embassy compound. The Ecuadorian National Police
(ENP) have cooperated fully in defending the mission, never
hesitating to deploy additional units in response to
perceived or real threats. Two pamphlet bombs were detonated
in close proximity to the compound on November 16-)the
Popular Combatants Group (GCP) is believed to be behind both
incidents. During the same period, protesters spray painted
anti-American propaganda on the outer wall of the
Ambassador's residence.

3. (SBU) Sanctuary (Safe Haven) Assessment:

The GOE does not provide sanctuary for any known terrorist
group. That said, Ecuador's far north -- the provinces of
Esmeraldas, Carchi, and Sucumbios ) abuts Colombian
departments Narino and Putumayo, narcoterrorist strongholds.
While Ecuador's military has increased troop deployments to
the frontier in recent years, the police presence, although
increasing, remains scant, and municipal and provincial
governments offer few services. Ecuadorian military leaders
in border units believe the FARC and ELN hold sway in up to
three-quarters of Ecuador's border hamlets, their
narcodollars buying townspeople's silence or compliance. GOE
police and military claim the FARC and possibly the ELN have
significant numbers of Ecuadorians in their employ. These
narcoterrorist organizations regularly use Ecuadorian
territory for rest, recuperation, and re-supply.

The GOE closely tracks suspicious Middle Easterners and
regularly shares information on SIAs with the USG. We have
as yet seen no evidence that suggests Al-Qaida or other
Islamic terrorist groups are currently operating or present
in Ecuador. Owing to lax border controls, it is conceivable
that Al-Qaida and others could target Ecuador for
recruitment, fundraising, or even establishment of training
facilities. The Islamic community in Ecuador numbers
3,500--three mosques exist nationwide.

4. (SBU) Information on Terrorist Groups:

GOE Police suspect several Ecuadorian groups of domestic
subversion and probable involvement in terrorism. Prime
among the groups they follow is the "Popular Combatants
Group," known by its Spanish acronym "GCP." The GCP is
reportedly an armed faction of the Marxist-Leninist Communist
Party of Ecuador. Its members, mainly students, are trained
in the use of firearms and the production and activation of
low-yield pamphlet bombs. The GCP has taken responsibility
for exploding these devices, as well as calling in false bomb
threats, nationwide. Police claim its membership totals
approximately 200. The GCP claimed responsibility for a
small bomb that was detonated outside a Citibank branch
office in Guayaquil in June. The GCP is believed to have
detonated the two pamphlet bombs close to the Embassy and
another at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Guayaquil
in November.

The Revolutionary Militias of The People (MRP) is another
armed faction of the Ecuadorian Communist Party. In 2002 and
2003, the MRP claimed responsibility for exploding bombs at
U.S.-associated businesses, such as a McDonalds restaurant in
Guayaquil and an American Airlines office in Quito. Police
estimate its strength at approximately 75 individuals, mainly
university students. There is no recent activity to report.

The Communist Party itself is a concern to police due to its
ability to organize and promote unrest nationwide. It is
said to have connections with Colombian narcoterrorist groups.

The Alfarista Liberation Army (ELA) serves as an umbrella
group for a number of small, violent leftist organizations
which operate in Ecuador. It was created in 2001, and is a
combination of former Carajo Group Free Montoneros Party
("Montoneros Patria Libre"), and Red Sun ("Sol Rojo")
members. Over the last twenty years, ELA membership has
grown to over 200 members, mostly comprised of young rural
revolutionaries and clerics from Pichincha, Imbabura, and
Esmeraldas. The group is reported to have connections to the
FARC and ELN in Colombia, and with armed groups in Venezuela,
from whom they receive training in arms, revolutionary
intelligence and counterintelligence, urban warfare,
explosives, and tactical practices.

The ELA espouses an anti-United States message, directing
particular criticism at the U.S. Cooperative Security
Location (CSL) in Manta. The ELA has claimed responsibility
for a variety of pamphlet bombings, such as the 2003 attack
on the British Consulate in Guayaquil and 2003 bombings at
Quito's Hilton Hotel and a McDonalds, both near the Embassy.
More recently, the ELA is believed to be targeting key
Ecuadorian figures for kidnapping, as they lack sufficient
arms to hit harder targets. The GOE is closely monitoring
the activities of the ELA, but does not consider the group a
major threat to its security.

5. (SBU) Information on Foreign Government Cooperation:

Despite an irregular change of government in April 2005, GOE
CT policy has not changed significantly in 2005. The GOE
remains cooperative, but limited resources available to
Ecuadorian law enforcement and military forces hamper CT
performance. U.S.-supported units perform well, however. At
the political level, isolationist sentiments remain strong,
sometimes hindering the GOE from taking a proactive
counter-terrorist stance. Ecuadorian leaders take a
political risk by favoring increased security cooperation
with Colombia, and the GOE has publicly refused to accept any
GOE involvement in Colombia's internal conflict or classify
the FARC as a terrorist organization. However, the Palacio
government has taken decisive action against FARC interests
in Ecuador and communication and bilateral relations between
the GOE and GOC are currently on the upswing. The GOE has
not criticized U.S. policy in Iraq, but unpopularity of the
U.S. campaign in Iraq here may limit the GOE's willingness to
publicly support democratic progress there.
JEWELL

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