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Cablegate: Ecuador: 2009 Country Reports On Terrorism

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC EFIN PINS PREL AEMR KCRM KHLS EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR: 2009 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM

REF: STATE 122733; STATE 109980

1. (U) Embassy submits the narrative in ...


id: 241033
date: 12/21/2009 21:54
refid: 09QUITO1218
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
destination: 09STATE109980|09STATE122733
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UNCLAS QUITO 001218

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC EFIN PINS PREL AEMR KCRM KHLS EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR: 2009 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM

REF: STATE 122733; STATE 109980

1. (U) Embassy submits the narrative in paragraphs 2-9 for the 2009
Country Report on Terrorism:

2. (U) Ecuador's greatest counterterrorism and security challenge
remained the presence of Colombian narcotics, criminal and
terrorist groups in the northern border region. In order to evade
Colombian military operations, these groups, principally the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), regularly used
Ecuadorian territory for rest, medical aid, weapons and explosives
procurement, recuperation, resupply, and training, as well as coca
processing and limited planting and production. This involved
significant numbers of Ecuadorians and Colombian refugees in
northern Ecuador in direct or indirect ways. The extremely
difficult terrain along the porous 450-mile border with Colombia,
and the lack of adequate licit employment opportunities for
Ecuadorians and Colombian refugees in the region, have made the
area vulnerable to narcoterrorist influence and created a
contraband economy. Some Ecuadorian officials along the border
believed that the FARC's economic impact allowed it to buy silence
and compliance. Another factor that may deter a stronger stance
against the FARC is that the group could carry out reprisals,
particularly against the oil industry in the northern region of the
country.

3. (U) Ecuador continued its response to this threat, although it
still faced constraints on resources and limited capabilities. The
Correa Administration, while maintaining the country's traditional
with respect to the Colombian conflict, has stated that it opposed
armed encroachments of any kind across its borders. Tensions
between the governments of Ecuador and Colombia were elevated
following the March 2008 Colombian bombing of a FARC camp in
Ecuador, which resulted in the killing of the FARC's number two in
command Raul Reyes, plus 24 Colombians and one Ecuadorian
associated with the FARC. However, the two governments embarked on
a path of rapprochement in September and assigned charges
d'affaires in November. Although Ecuador-Colombia security
mechanisms have been reactivated, reestablishment of full
diplomatic ties would be important to making further progress in
disrupting and dismantling FARC-associated narcotics traffickers'
operations in the region.

4. (U) Ecuador's security forces continued their operations against
FARC training and logistical resupply camps along the northern
border. The Ecuadorian military continued to increase the number
of troops in the north in 2009. Ecuador augmented its security
presence in the northern border region in response to persistent
narcotics activity by armed insurgent and criminal groups that had
rendered the northern border region particularly vulnerable and
dangerous. The GOE increased its emphasis on protection of
national sovereignty against illegal armed incursions and and
improved efforts to counter a perception that Ecuador was not
shouldering its burden in fighting drug traffickers along its
northern border.

5. (U) While GOE security forces increased their presence, the pace
of their operations remained roughly the same and level of success
against narcoterrorists declined from 2008. The Ecuadorian
military reports that it conducted four counterdrug operations at
the brigade level, 219 battalion-level operations and 159 patrols
that led to the destruction of nine cocaine laboratories, 253 FARC
base camps, houses and resupply facilities; the eradication of one
hectare of coca; and the confiscation of weapons, communications
equipment, and other support equipment.

6. (U) The Ecuadorian military's operations netted information on
FARC activities and infrastructure both inside and outside of
Ecuador, and resulted in the detention of more than 75 narcotics
traffickers, the killing of three FARC members and the wounding of
seven others during the year. However, insufficient resources,
corruption among members of the military and police assigned to the
area, the challenging border region terrain (which includes coastal
mangrove swamps, the Andes mountains and the Amazon jungle), and a
tense bilateral relationship with Colombia since the March 2008
raid made it difficult to thwart cross-border incursions.

7. (U) Other terrorist groups present in Ecuador, although less
active in the last few years, included the Popular Combatants
Group, the Revolutionary Militia of the People, the
Marxist-Leninist Party of Ecuador, and the Alfarista Liberation
Army.

8. (U) The Ecuadorian government continued to strengthen controls
over money laundering through the Financial Intelligence Unit
(FIU), which it established under a 2005 Money Laundering Law. The
FIU improved cooperation with the Anti-Narcotics Police
Directorate, the Superintendent of Banks, the courts, and the
private banker association to identify suspicious transactions and
develop information for the prosecution of cases. An important
current emphasis of the FIU is to monitor casinos for money
laundering activities. The Prosecutor General fully established a
Major Crimes Specialized Unit, which includes a specialized
anti-money laundering unit to address the need for the interdiction
of passengers and cargo for undeclared currency, and the National
Police have set up an anti-money laundering unit to carry out
investigations into financial crimes. Ecuador has not criminalized
terrorist financing, although the government is reportedly
considering adopting counter-terrorism financing legislation.

9. (U) Ecuador's judicial institutions remained weak, susceptible
to corruption, and heavily backlogged with pending cases. While
the military and police made numerous arrests, the judicial system
had a poor record of achieving convictions.

10. (SBU) Embassy Quito POC is: Mark Pannell, Political Officer,
PannellMA@state.gov, 593-2-398-5502.
HODGES

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