Chapter 2. Country Reports: Western Hemisphere Overview
Overall, governments in the region took modest steps to improve their counterterrorism capabilities and tighten border security, but corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or nonexistent legislation, and a lack of resources limited progress. Most countries made efforts to investigate possible connections between transnational criminal organizations and terrorist organizations.
At the same time, Iran sought to expand its activities in the Western Hemisphere. The most disturbing manifestation of this was the Iranian plot against the Saudi Ambassador to the United States; the plot involved enlisting criminal elements from a transnational criminal organization to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador by bombing a restaurant in Washington, DC. Regular exchange of intelligence and information between Mexican and U.S. officials through pre-established protocols and institutional channels was crucial in thwarting the plot. Iran also began a public relations campaign aimed at Latin America and the Caribbean by announcing the impending kickoff of a Spanish-language version of Iranian television to be broadcast in the region.
The majority of terrorist attacks within the Western Hemisphere in 2011 were committed by two U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations in Colombia – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army – and other radical leftist Andean groups elsewhere. The threat of a transnational terrorist attack remained low for most countries in the Western Hemisphere.
There were no known operational cells of either al-Qa'ida or Hizballah in the hemisphere, although ideological sympathizers in South America and the Caribbean continued to provide financial and ideological support to those and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia. The Tri-Border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay continued to be an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, and human smuggling, counterfeiting, pirated goods, and money laundering – all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations.
Overview: Argentina and the United States cooperated closely in analyzing possible terrorist threat information. Argentina continued to focus on the challenges of policing its remote northern and northeastern borders – including the Tri-Border Area (TBA), where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet – against such threats as illicit drug and human trafficking, contraband smuggling, and other forms of transnational crime. Training and other forms of bilateral law enforcement cooperation were curtailed, however, following the February 10 confiscation by Argentine authorities of sensitive U.S. military equipment at the international airport in Buenos Aires that was intended to support a previously approved U.S. Special Forces training exercise with the Argentine Federal Police's counterterrorism unit.
2011 Terrorist Incidents:
- On November 29, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at the main police station in the Buenos Aires city suburb of Avellaneda, damaging the building and nearby businesses, but causing no injuries. Police found pamphlets from an anarchist group calling itself the “Eduardo Maria Vazquez Aguirre Anti-Prison Insurgent Cell” at the scene. Eduardo Maria Vazquez Aguirre was a Spanish anarchist who reportedly killed the Chief of the Argentine Police in a 1909 bombing. The pamphlet stated that the bombing was in retaliation for the deaths of six named individuals shot by Buenos Aires Provincial Police officers.
- On December 21, an IED detonated 100 meters from the Security Ministry headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires, damaging nearby cars and buildings, but causing no injuries. A group calling itself “the Nucleus of Conspirators for the Extension of Chaos” claimed credit for the attack via a statement posted to the internet and indicated that it would soon conduct more attacks. Media reported that the design of this IED was similar to many of the bombs used in a 2010 series of bombings that targeted ATMs.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: On March 9, the Argentine Federal Police transferred control over the issuance of Argentine passports to the National Registry of Persons (RENAPER). This shift was part of an ongoing Argentine government effort to improve both the security measures governing the issuance and distribution of Argentine travel and identification documents, and the security mechanisms embedded in these documents. The Argentine passports issued via RENAPER conform to the standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization. In addition, the Government of Argentina took steps to improve integration of data-bases controlled by several government ministries to ensure that Argentine travel documents were not provided to wanted persons.
The Argentine government continued its efforts to bring to justice those suspected in the July 18, 1994 terrorist bombing of the Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and injured more than 150 people. The Argentine government appeared to shift its stance with respect to engagement with Iran over that government's alleged links to the crimes. At the September United Nations (UN) General Assembly, for example, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner indicated Argentina's willingness to enter into a dialogue with the Iranian government despite its refusal to turn over the Iranian suspects, which include Iran's current Defense Minister, wanted in connection with this bombing.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Argentina is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America, a FATF-style regional body. On December 22, Argentina passed Law 26.734, which modified the penal code, broadened the definition of terrorism, and increased monetary fines and prison sentences for crimes linked to counterterrorist financing (CTF). The law, which generated controversy in some sectors for being overly broad and subject to potential misapplication, closed several loopholes in the 2007 CTF legislation. It empowered the Argentine Financial Intelligence Unit to freeze assets and criminalized the financing of terrorist organizations, individuals, and acts.
On October 17, Argentina passed Decree 1642/11, which created the National Program for Monitoring the Implementation of Policies for the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism. The program, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, includes coordination of national activities, projects, and programs to evaluate and set strategies. The program will also oversee monitoring and advancing Argentine government compliance with FATF recommendations.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: //2009-2017.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Argentina participated in meetings of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism and the Southern Common Market Special Forum on Terrorism. Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, via their “Trilateral Tri-Border Area Command” coordinated law enforcement efforts in the TBA.
Overview: There were no domestic or international terrorist incidents in Bolivia in 2011, and the threat of terrorism remained relatively low.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In September, the Bolivian government passed a law that punishes supporting or participating in a terrorist group with prison sentences of 15-20 years. Bolivia also expanded its issuance of biometric passports to its citizens although it lacks biometric capabilities at its ports of entry.
In 2011, there were two reported arrests of individuals linked to the Peru-based terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path or SL):
- On June 27, a member of SL who had escaped from prison in Peru was arrested in Antaquilla, Bolivia. He was captured with five other Peruvians and a Bolivian involved in drug trafficking, all of whom were disguised in counternarcotic police uniforms. He was subsequently extradited to Peru.
- On August 2, four persons with alleged SL links were arrested in El Alto after distributing pamphlets allegedly speaking out against Evo Morales and encouraging militant Marxist doctrine. Three of the individuals were extradited to Peru and one remained in Bolivia as a political refugee.
Countering Terrorist Financing: In September, the government passed new legislation criminalizing the intentional “direct or indirect collection, transfer, delivery, possession or management of funds, property, or resources” for the purposes of terrorism, punishable by 15-20 years in prison. This law also made terrorist financing a crime independent of related offenses.
There was one ongoing investigation regarding alleged terrorist financing. On July 21, the Bolivian government expanded the 2009 Rozsa terrorism investigation to include possible financiers. The Government of Bolivia suspected 15 people of providing financial support to an alleged terrorist group based in Santa Cruz, and maintained that the group was trying to assassinate President Morales and divide the country. Opposition leaders denounced the investigation as politically motivated because a number of opposition leaders were named in the indictment. The investigation continued at year's end.
There was no law that expressly called for the monitoring of Non-Governmental Organizations' (NGO) finances. Banks were also required to report suspicious transactions, including those of NGOs.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: //2009-2017.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Government of Bolivia cooperated with Peru, Colombia, and surrounding countries on counterterrorism. Bolivia is a member of the Southern Common Market and participated in meetings of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism.
Overview: The Brazilian government continued to support counterterrorism-related activities, including investigating potential terrorist financing, document forgery networks, and other illicit activity. Brazilian security services cooperated with U.S. authorities and other regional partners to counter terrorist threats. Operationally, security forces of the Brazilian government worked with U.S. officials to pursue investigative leads provided by U.S. authorities regarding terrorist suspects. Brazil's security services were concerned that terrorists could exploit Brazilian territory to support and facilitate terrorist attacks, whether domestically or abroad, and have focused their efforts in the areas of Sao Paulo;the Tri-Border Areas of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, and Brazil, Peru, and Colombia; and along the Colombian and Venezuelan borders.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of Brazil's National Congress) was considering two counterterrorism bills pending in committee. One bill would deny visas to persons convicted or accused of a terrorist act in another country, and the other would give the Brazilian government the authority to investigate and prosecute terrorist organizations. Brazilian authorities continued to work with other concerned nations, particularly with the United States, to combat document fraud. In particular, U.S. authorities began training Brazilian airline employees to identify fraudulent documents. Since 2009, multiple regional and international joint operations with U.S. authorities have successfully disrupted a number of document vendors and facilitators, as well as related human-trafficking infrastructures.
The work of the Container Security Initiative in Santos, Brazil has continued since 2005. Brazil has achieved visible results from investments in border and law enforcement infrastructure undertaken to control the flow of goods - legal and illegal - through the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, the proceeds of which could be diverted to support terrorist groups. In particular, the inspection station at the Friendship Bridge in the TBA, completed by the Brazilian customs agency (Receita Federal) in 2007, continued to reduce the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and contraband goods along the Paraguayan border.
In light of Brazil's plans to host the upcoming 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, a key focus for the Department of State's 2012 Antiterrorism Assistance program to Brazil was major event security management.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Brazil is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America, a FATF-style regional body (FSRB). The Brazilian government made implementation of FATF recommendations a top priority and created a working group chaired by the Ministry of Justice to incorporate these recommendations into legislation and regulation. Brazil sought to play an active leadership role in its FSRB and has offered technical assistance to Argentina to implement FATF recommendations.
Brazil has not criminalized terrorist financing in a manner that is consistent with the FATF Special Recommendation II. On October 26, the Chamber of Deputies passed an updated money laundering bill establishing stricter penalties, but a specific terrorist financing provision was not included.
Brazil monitored domestic financial operations and effectively used its Financial Intelligence Unit, the Financial Activities Oversight Council (COAF), to identify possible funding sources for terrorist groups. The Brazilian government has generally responded to U.S. efforts to identify and block terrorist-related funds. Terrorist financing is not an autonomous offense in Brazil, but it is a predicate offense to money laundering. COAF does not have the authority to unilaterally freeze assets without a court order. The FATF has recommended that COAF create a standard operating procedure for freezing funds, which COAF has prioritized but not completed.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: //2009-2017.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Brazil is a member of the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, and the Southern Common Market's working group on terrorism and sub-working group on financial issues, the latter of which focuses on terrorist financing and money laundering. Brazil participated in meetings of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism.
Overview: Canada remained one of the United States' closest counterterrorism partners. In October, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the Canadian government “is committed to ensuring that Canada remains at the forefront of global efforts to counter terrorism.” Canada and the United States cooperated bilaterally through the Cross Border Crime Forum Sub-group on and the Bilateral Consultative Group on Counterterrorism.
On December 7, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced action plans for the Beyond the Border (BTB) and Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) initiatives, designed to deepen border management partnership and enhance security. The complementary plans promote transparency, efficiency, security, and the accelerated flow of people and trade across the U.S.-Canada border.
The BTB action plan specifically seeks to create policy guidelines for addressing threats as early as possible and to coordinate screening through an integrated U.S.-Canada entry and exit system. Additional BTB priorities include cooperating on efforts to counter violent extremism, improving information sharing to leverage limited resources, and augmenting the ability of governments and communities to respond to both natural and man-made threats, including natural disasters and health security threats.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Canadian government passed one counterterrorism-related bill and introduced a second that remained under consideration.
- On March 23, C-42, the Strengthening Aviation Security Act, which provides legal authority for Canadian officials to share information with the United States for the purposes of the Secure Flight program, received Royal Assent (head of state approval) in the 40th Parliament and entered into force immediately.
- C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, rolled together nine draft crime and national security bills from the 40th Parliament into one omnibus crime bill. It includes the former S-7, “An Act to deter Terrorism and Amend the State Immunity Act,” that would allow terrorism victims to sue terrorists and terrorist entities – and in some cases foreign states that have supported terrorist entities – for loss or damage suffered as a result of their acts. At year's end, C-10 had passed the House of Commons and had been referred for Committee study in the Senate.
Legal actions :
- On March 4, Shareef Abdelhaleem, a member of the so-called Toronto 18 who was convicted for his participation in a bomb plot in 2006, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for ten years. Abdelhaleem is the last of the eleven members tried to be sentenced. (The Toronto 18 planned to bomb several Canadian targets, including Parliament Hill, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) headquarters, and nuclear power plants).
- On March 29, authorities arrested Mohamed Hersi at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Hersi was allegedly en route to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. Police charged him with attempting to participate in terrorist activity and counseling terrorist participation. Hersi was freed on bail.
- On June 30, the Supreme Court granted leave to Piratheepan Nadarajah and Suresh Sriskandarajah to appeal their extradition to the United States to stand trial on charges of attempting to purchase surface-to-air missiles and other weaponry in the United States for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Authorities released the men on bail in January pending their application to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had not specified a date to hear the appeal.
Cooperation sought during the previous five years in the investigation or prosecution of an act of international terrorism against U.S. citizens or interests, included:
- On January 19, Canadian authorities arrested Canadian-Iraqi citizen Faruq Khalil Muhammad in response to U.S. charges that he helped coordinate Tunisian terrorists believed responsible for separate suicide attacks in Iraq in 2009 that killed five U.S. soldiers outside a U.S. base and seven people at an Iraqi police complex. Faruq's appeal regarding his extradition continued at year's end.
- On November 3, the Supreme Court rejected a federal government application for a hearing to extradite Canadian citizen Abdullah Khadr, brother of Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr and eldest son of Usama bin Ladin-associate Ahmed Khadr. The decision effectively upheld a lower-court ruling that had prevented Khadr's extradition to the United States. According to usual practice, the court gave no reasons for dismissing the application.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Canada is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body; and is a supporting nation of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. Canada was also an observer in the Council of Europe's Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America, another FATF-style regional body.
The Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) revoked the charitable status of the World Islamic Call Society of Canada (WICS-Canada) and the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN). The CRA uncovered that WICS-Canada operated under the direction of, and received its funding from, WICS-Libya, an organization founded by former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi and funded through allocations made by Gaddafi from the “Jihad Fund.” CRA also found IRFAN-Canada provided significant financial support to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization in Canada.
The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Canada's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), reported a record 777 case disclosures in fiscal year 2010-2011. Of those cases, 151 were related to terrorist financing and other threats to Canada's security. FINTRAC signed eleven new bilateral agreements with foreign FIUs that allowed for the exchange of money laundering and terrorist financing information.
On March 21, the British Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that the six-month sentence handed to Prapaharan Thambirthurai in 2010 for knowingly raising US $2,600 to benefit the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was appropriate. The federal government appealed the sentence, arguing that it did not properly reflect the seriousness of the terrorist financing charge.
Regional and International Cooperation: Canada is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and co-chaired its Sahel Regional Capacity Building Group. Canada is an active member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations, the G8, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation , Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)/ASEAN Regional Forum, the International Civil Aviation Organization , the International Maritime Organization, and the Organization of American States.
Canada's Counterterrorism Capacity Building Program, created in 2005, provided training, funding, equipment, and technical and legal assistance to states enabling them to prevent and respond to terrorist activity in seven areas:
- Border security;
- Transportation security;
- Legislative, regulatory and legal policy development, legislative drafting, and human rights and counterterrorism training;
- Law enforcement, security, military and intelligence training; chemical/biological/ radiological/nuclear and explosives terrorism prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery;
- Combating terrorism financing;
- Cyber security, and
- Critical infrastructure protection.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The RCMP's National Security Community Outreach program promoted interaction and relationship-building with communities at risk of radicalization. The Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security fostered dialogue on national security issues between the government and community leaders. In its 2011-2012 priorities, the DPS articulated its intention to work with other government departments to develop policy responses to strengthen Canada's domestic capacity to counter violent extremism. The government also worked with non-governmental partners and concerned communities to deter violent extremism through preventative programming and community outreach.
Overview: The Government of Chile continued its efforts to counter domestic terrorism, a phenomenon mainly composed of local anarchist groups carrying out small-scale bomb attacks. U.S. and Chilean officials collaborated on several counterterrorism projects throughout the year, including investigating whether an international smuggling network had any nexus to terrorism and carrying out several training programs that strengthened Chile's ability to prevent and counter terrorism.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: There were approximately 23 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were detonated, deactivated, or found, the vast majority of which were located in Santiago. Officials believed that these IEDs were tied to anarchist activity. The typical modus operandi was to place IEDs composed of gunpowder inside of a fire extinguisher in front of businesses; banks were most frequently targeted. The majority of the IEDs were crudely built, characterized as “noise bombs,” were used late at night, and did not appear to be designed to kill or injure people. However, they did have the potential to injure passersby in the immediate vicinity. The only casualty in 2011 occurred when one of the anarchists was severely burned and lost his hands when the device he planted detonated prematurely.
On March 21, a small explosive device detonated outside the U.S. Binational Center in Vina del Mar. The explosion caused minor damage, but no one was injured. The bombing occurred hours prior to President Barack Obama's arrival. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Two IEDs detonated at a memorial to former Chilean political figure Jaime Guzman, directly across the street from the U.S. Embassy. Neither caused injuries nor was aimed at U.S. citizens. The first IED detonated on August 14; the second was used on August 16.
Anarchists targeted high-profile areas, such as the National Cathedral, Grupo Copesa headquarters (a major media publisher), and a Public Prosecutor's office following the October 4 release of 13 terrorists accused of planting bombs following a court decision to dismiss evidence it determined was obtained illegally.
Chilean law enforcement agencies also confronted sporadic low-level violence throughout the year related to indigenous land disputes. The Coordinadora Arauco Malleco, a domestic group primarily operating in the Biobio and Araucania regions of Chile that seeks recovery of former indigenous lands – sometimes through violent means – claimed responsibility for several of the attacks.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation finalized an agreement with the Chilean Investigative Police to exchange biometric information under the South American Fingerprint Exchange program. U.S. officials collaborated with the Servicio Medical Legal (Chile's official forensic service) to implement the latest version of the Combined DNA Indexing System, certify the laboratory, and ensure that laboratory personnel receive appropriate training. Chile is the only country in South America using this version, and as such, is a regional leader in biometrics. Chile participated in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Chile is a member of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body and the Egmont Group. In 2011, a bill was introduced that would modify and establish specific roles for the Financial Analysis Unit in tracking the financing of terrorist activities. Chile has a large and well-developed banking and financial sector with an established Anti-Money Laundering/ Counterterrorism Financing regime. All banks, financial institutions, and companies involved in money transfers were required to report suspicious transactions. Chile used a “list” approach to identify predicate offenses for money laundering, which include narcotics trafficking, terrorism in any form, the financing of terrorist acts or groups, illegal arms trafficking, kidnapping, fraud, corruption, child prostitution, pornography, and some instances of adult prostitution.
Regional and International Cooperation: Chile is actively involved in both multilateral and regional organizations, including the United Nations (UN), Organization of American States (OAS), and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and incorporated their recommendations into its security strategy. Chile also collaborated on bilateral and sub-regional activities to prevent terrorism through the Southern Common Market, and participated in international initiatives such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
During the year, the Chilean government was involved in UN discussions on the framework of the Global Counterterrorism Strategy, and also participated in programs carried out by the Executive Secretariat of the OAS' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism and the Terrorism Working Group of APEC's Counterterrorism Task Force.
Overview: Colombia has struggled for nearly half a century with a number of extremely violent and complex terrorist organizations working to overthrow or destabilize the national government. Overall, the number of attacks and casualties rose, as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) reverted to hit and run attacks rather than large unit encounters, while the number of known and suspected terrorists killed, captured, or surrendered fell. The Colombian Ministry of Defense and National Police (CNP) succeeded in striking several major blows against terrorist forces, however, most notably the November 4 killing of FARC Supreme Commander Guillermo Leon Saenz Vargas, alias “Alfonso Cano.”
2011 Terrorist Incidents: Colombia experienced a large number of terrorist attacks by the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Still, the manpower and mobility of both groups were significantly reduced in the last decade, forcing them to adopt more traditional guerilla tactics. Nevertheless, the FARC and ELN continued to pose a serious threat to Columbia's security. The frequency of incidents increased in September, as illegal armed groups attempted to disrupt public order during the run-up to the October 30 elections. The increased frequency of attacks continued through November, partly in reprisal for the killing of Alfonso Cano earlier that month. There were no significant terrorist incidents specifically targeting U.S. citizens or U.S. government facilities.
Notable terrorist incidents:
- On February 3, 30 CNP personnel were wounded in an ambush on an Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit in Puerto Rondon, a small town on the Venezuelan border. The unit and other officers had been summoned to investigate a report of a possible improvised explosive device in the middle of the road.
- On February 11 in San Miguel, Putumayo, a home-made mortar device fired by suspected FARC terrorists landed near a CNP post, killing five civilians, including a child, and wounding two other children.
- On June 25, suspected ELN rebels attacked a CNP outpost in Colon Genova, Narino, with explosives and small-arms fire, killing eight civilians and wounding four.
- On September 18, home-made mortars launched towards the Colombian Army base in La Macarena, Meta Department, injured several civilians.
- On the day of the October 30 elections, suspected ELN terrorists in Arauca Department opened fire on the armored convoy of Albeiro Vanegas, Vice President of the House of Representatives. Vanegas was unharmed, but his driver was killed.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Overall law enforcement cooperation between Colombia and the United States was outstanding. Colombia extradited more people to the United States than any other country, with 119 alleged criminals in 2011. Unlike previous years, none of the 119 cases were blocked by the Colombian high courts. Evidence sharing and joint law enforcement operations also occurred in a fluid and efficient manner.
Colombian authorities were exceptionally helpful in assisting U.S. authorities on approximately 20 kidnapping and homicide cases involving U.S. citizens, and the CNP also provided judicial and investigative assistance in a handful of terrorism cases involving non-Colombian international terrorist organizations.
Colombia continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA provided Colombia with anti-kidnapping, computer forensics, dignitary protection, and leadership training to enable Colombia to expand its role as a regional provider of counterterrorism-related training to other countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Colombia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America Against Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Colombia continued to cooperate with the United States to block terrorists' assets and Colombian authorities and police carried out several operations during the year to arrest and charge financial support networks of the FARC. Aerial and manual eradication of illicit drugs in Colombia, key to targeting terrorist group finances, destroyed approximately 117,000 hectares of illegal coca crops and 288 hectares of poppy plants as of December 19, thus depriving terrorist groups of significant revenue streams. All Colombian financial institutions immediately closed drug trafficking and terrorism-related accounts on Colombian government orders or in response to sanctions designations by the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury.
Regional and International Cooperation: Colombia is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and was actively involved in the United Nations (UN), Organization of American States (OAS), and the Union of South American Nations. The Colombian government frequently integrated the recommendations of the UN and OAS into its security decisions. Colombia also chaired the Iran Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council. The CNP recently assumed responsibility for coordinating with INTERPOL and maintained an INTERPOL office of approximately 70 analysts, agents, and support staff.
Colombia continued to provide training to its regional partners. In the past three years, the CNP has provided training to over 11,000 police officers from 21 Latin American and African countries, as well as Afghanistan. Colombia has provided basic and advanced helicopter pilot training to Mexican, Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran counterparts, and provided advanced counterterrorism training to members of Special Forces units from around the world.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Colombia employed a robust and modern multi-agency approach to countering radicalization and extremism aimed at encouraging members and entire units of the FARC and ELN to demobilize and reintegrate with society. The Colombian armed forces and police used a number of fixed and mobile radio transmitters to broadcast strategic messaging to potential deserters. Such messaging can also be seen in print, television, and a number of creative alternative media. Colombian rebels and paramilitaries who choose to demobilize are entered into a formalized process of debriefing, counseling, relocation, and job placement assistance. Recidivism rates were moderate to low.
Overview: Ecuador's greatest counterterrorism and security challenge remained the presence of Colombian terrorist groups in the extremely difficult terrain along its porous 450-mile border with Colombia. Ecuador continued to respond to this threat but it faced resource constraints and limited capabilities. The Correa administration, while still maintaining that the Colombian conflict was mainly Colombia's responsibility, repeated its opposition to encroachments by armed groups across its borders and increased its military presence in the north to discourage incursions by these groups. Ecuador's security forces continued limited operations against Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) trafficking, training, and logistical resupply camps along the northern border.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: Ecuador experienced a rash of pamphlet bombings (which involves using explosives under a large number of pamphlets in order to physically disseminate them) towards the end of 2011.
- On November 17, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded inside the Ministry of Labor in Quito. On November 22, an IED exploded inside a provincial health clinic in Guayaquil and a separate IED exploded near a Guayaquil restaurant. The perpetrators used the three bombs to deliver pamphlets protesting the “unconstitutional” firing of government employees. The Guerilla Army of the People N-15 (this group claimed responsibility for bombing a television station in 2009) and the heretofore unknown Revolutionary Insurgent Armed Forces of Ecuador claimed responsibility for the first two bombs. No group claimed responsibility for the third.
- On December 19, three separate pamphlet bombs exploded in front of a business building in Guayaquil and in public parks in Quito and Cuenca between 10:15 and 10:30 am. Although not identical, the pamphlets had a common theme protesting the official visit of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who arrived earlier that morning. No group claimed responsibility. Although the intent of these bombs was to gain attention for political positions and none of the bombs resulted in serious injury or structural damage, the November 17 bomb used enough explosive to cause significant injuries and could have been fatal.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Active alien smuggling rings in Ecuador continued to raise concerns about the transit of individuals with terrorism connections, particularly as it continued to allow visa-free entry to all but nine countries. Ecuadorian law enforcement dismantled one such ring involving 66 foreign nationals on March 10.
On December 14, Ecuador announced that it would increase the Plan Ecuador budget, an agency organized under the Ministry of Security to stabilize the border, from about $4 million to $13 million. The Ecuadorian military conducted more than 200 operations to help secure the northern border area against illegally armed groups between January and October, seizing small arms and munitions, drugs, and disrupting illicit trafficking. In November, an Ecuadorian soldier died in a confrontation with alleged petroleum smugglers with FARC ties. The Ecuadorian government captured FARC 48th front deputy commander Andres Guaje Chala (alias Danilo) in June and handed him over to the Colombian government.
Many acts associated with social protest, such as blocking roads, protesting without a permit, or encouraging protest, can fall under the rubric of “terrorism” and “sabotage,” vaguely-defined crimes against public welfare or the interests of the state under Ecuadorian law. In some cases, human rights advocates and opposition leaders argued that the government brought charges of terrorism against persons for participating in legitimate forms of social protest. 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 in all types of criminal cases.
Ecuador continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Ecuador is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America Against Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Ecuador's anti-money laundering law, in effect since 2010, criminalized the financing of acts listed as “crimes of sabotage and terrorism” in the penal code. The breadth and effectiveness of the new law are still unclear. While Ecuador has regulations to confiscate property used in terrorism or the financing of terrorism, Ecuador lacked adequate procedures for the freezing of assets and has a lengthy criminal process for confiscating terrorists' assets.
Regional and International Cooperation: Ecuador and Colombia exchanged ambassadors following their 2010 restoration of diplomatic relations. Security cooperation has resumed and improved. Colombian and Ecuadorian defense ministries signed an agreement June 14 to exchange border security training and intelligence that included provisions to combat illegal mining, weapons smuggling, money laundering, and construction of drug smuggling submarines. Ecuador is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and participated in meetings of the OAS' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism.
Overview: The Mexican government remained vigilant against domestic and international terrorist threats. It increased law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and other neighbors and took steps to enhance control of its northern and southern borders. No known international terrorist organization had an operational presence in Mexico and no terrorist group targeted U.S. citizens in or from Mexican territory. There was no evidence of ties between Mexican criminal organizations and terrorist groups, nor that the criminal organizations had political or territorial control, aside from seeking to protect and expand the impunity with which they conduct their criminal activity.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Mexican government continued to improve the abilities of its security forces to counter terrorism. The United States supported these efforts by providing training and equipment to Mexican law enforcement and security agencies, sharing information, and promoting interagency law enforcement cooperation. The United States also supported Mexican efforts to address border security challenges along its southern and northern borders and its ports. The U.S. and Mexican governments implemented programs to share information and jointly analyze transnational threats; promote information and intelligence sharing; deploy enhanced cargo screening technologies; and strengthen passenger information sharing. U.S. and Mexican officials also continued coordinated efforts to prevent the transit of third country nationals who may raise terrorism concerns. On the U.S.-Mexico border, officials increased coordination of patrols and inspections and improved communications across the border. On the Mexico-Guatemala-Belize border, Mexico deployed additional security forces and implemented biometric controls. Mexico remained a critical partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, which began to shift its focus from protection of national leadership training to border security, preventing safe havens, and protecting critical targets.
The Mexican government aided U.S. efforts to disrupt an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. U.S. officials arrested Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar in New York on September 29 after the Mexican government denied him entry to Mexico and he was returned to the starting point of his journey. Arbabsiar had planned to contact a Mexican criminal organization on behalf of elements of the Iranian government.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Mexico is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force of South America Against Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. As a result of the announcement of a National Strategy for the Prevention and Elimination of Money Laundering and Financing for Terrorism in 2010, Mexico issued a number of Anti-Money Laundering/Counterterrorist Finance (AML/CTF) regulations that strengthen reporting requirements and expand the range of financial entities covered under AML/CTF provisions. In April, the government proposed to amend the Federal Criminal Code to expressly establish that corporate entities are liable for crimes, including cases of terrorist financing, committed by their legal representatives.
Regional and International Cooperation: Through the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism and the Central American Integration System, Mexico has led regional efforts to strengthen capacities to increase security and prevent terrorism by promoting consultation, increasing law enforcement cooperation, and strengthening border controls.
Overview: The most direct terrorism threat to Panama was the persistent presence of a small unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which used the remote Darien Region as a safe haven. Through the annual PANAMAX exercise, a multinational security training exercise tailored to the defense of the canal, and the exemplary stewardship of the Panama Canal Authority, the Panama Canal remained secure. The Panamanian National Frontier Service (SENAFRONT) undertook several operations against the FARC. Panama took additional steps to cooperate with Colombia and Costa Rica to secure its borders.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Government of Panama continued its efforts to exercise its sovereignty in the Darien through more aggressive patrolling by security forces. In January, SENAFRONT raided a FARC camp that contained explosives material as well as radios and other militarily useful items. In October, SENAFRONT captured two Colombian FARC members near the village of Matucanti, one after an exchange of fire with eight suspected FARC guerillas. Another operation in late October destroyed a guerilla camp near the town of Alto Tuira, 18 kilometers from the Colombian border. On December 13, another clash occurred in the same area after SENAFRONT discovered hideaways of food and supplies in the area.
In the fall, U.S. Customs and Border Protection installed elements of the Advance Passenger Information System at Tocumen Airport to collect data to target potentially dangerous and criminal passengers on all flights in and out of Panama. The system was operating on a limited basis at year's end. Mobile security teams at the airport supported by the United States seized numerous illicit bulk cash transfers.
Panama continued its participation in the Container Security Initiative at Balboa and Manzanillo, and the Evergreen Colon Container Terminal, and also continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program. The U.S. Southern Command-sponsored Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program has supplemented instructional training and professional development with Mobile Training Teams and conferences.
Panama also took steps to improve security on the Costa Rican border. In October, Panama inaugurated a new border checkpoint station at San Isidrio and has remodeled several of its SENAFRONT outpost stations on the Costa Rican border.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Panama is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America against Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Panama had an adequate legal and regulatory framework for countering terrorist finance. One issue in the regulatory framework, the existence of bearer share corporations, was partially addressed through the passage of legislation (Law 2 of 2011) requiring lawyers to know their clients, conduct due diligence on the beneficial ownership of corporations they establish, and share that information with the authorities upon request. Uneven enforcement of the existing anti-money laundering and terrorist finance controls, however, coupled with the weak judicial system, remained a problem. Moreover, the Colon Free Zone, the second largest free zone in the world, is viewed as particularly vulnerable to abuse for illicit finance. In addition to passage of Law 2, the Government of Panama took steps to continue to improve the legislative framework governing financial sector transparency by negotiating and signing 13 Double Taxation Treaties with Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members, and ratifying the Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the United States, thus achieving removal from the OECD's gray list of tax havens. The Government of Panama cooperated fully in searching for assets of persons and entities on the UN terrorist finance lists.
Regional and International Cooperation: The United States and Panama continued to plan for incidents that could potentially shut down transit through the Panama Canal. In August, Panama co-hosted the annual PANAMAX exercise, a multinational security training exercise initiated in 2003 that focuses on canal security. The exercise replicated real-world threats and included specific exercises designed to counter terrorist attacks. Several U.S. government agencies as well as 17 partner nations participated in the exercise.
Panama participates in United Nations and regional security initiatives, such as the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism. Panama has a well-established border commission with Colombia that has been energized since the election of President Martinelli in 2009. On September 9, 2011, Panama and Costa Rica signed an agreement to create a Costa Rica-Panama Binational Border Security Commission (Combifront Panama-Costa Rica) to improve cooperation at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. In June, Minister of Security Jose Raul Mulino met with his Mexican counterparts to discuss forming a similar binational commission.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism : The United States and Panama worked together to create opportunities for the residents of the Darien region to deter local recruitment by the FARC. Local youth received vocational and technical training to better prepare them to find jobs or start their own businesses, while indigenous entrepreneurs obtained assistance to improve marketing of their crafts. Community facilities have been constructed along with sports fields to give members of the community places to meet and come together.
Overview: Although Paraguay enhanced counterterrorism efforts, it remained hampered by ineffective immigration, customs, and law enforcement controls along its porous borders, particularly the Tri-Border Area (TBA) with Argentina and Brazil. Limited resources, sporadic interagency cooperation, and corruption within customs, the police, the public ministry, and the judicial sector impeded Paraguay's law enforcement initiatives. Continued activity by internal insurgent groups and the resulting public demands for governmental response kept terrorism in the policy forefront. The Congress passed legislation in October allowing the government to freeze terrorist financing-related assets. Following terrorist attacks on police stations in September and October, President Fernando Lugo responded by mobilizing the military from November to December.
2011 Terrorist Incidents : Since 2008, the leftist Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) has been active in the northern departments of Paraguay abutting the Brazilian border. The EPP was believed to be a small, decentralized group operating mainly in Concepcion Department. Estimates of membership ranged from 20-100 members. It engaged in kidnappings, placing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and multiple shootouts with the police and military. For all of the events below, where responsibility was not claimed by another group, it was widely suspected that the EPP was responsible:
- In January, an IED exploded at a radio tower in Asuncion. There were no injuries and a second IED located nearby was destroyed by police.
- Also in January, the EPP claimed responsibility for an IED attack on a police patrol vehicle in Horqueta (a city in north-central Paraguay that has been the site of much of the EPP's activity) that injured four officers.
- On September 18, a motorcycle passenger threw an IED at a building in Horqueta that housed the prosecutor's office. No one was injured in that attack. Three days later, however, eight armed attackers killed two members of the Paraguayan National Police at a police outpost 15 km from Horqueta. The attackers used a diversion to lure the police outside where they proceeded to use small arms fire and grenades to execute their attack.
- On October 5, EPP snipers attacked a police roadblock established near the same police station, wounding a police officer. Two days later the residence of the Chief of Police in Horqueta was shot at by unknown assailants.
- On October 24, a sniper attacked the police station in Hugua Nandu wounding two officers.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: N o significant steps were undertaken specifically to address border security issues, particularly with respect to Paraguay's large and generally unprotected borders with Argentina and Brazil. The minimal police or military presence along these borders allowed for a virtual free flow of people and contraband along the frontier. Following the EPP attacks in September and early October, the Congress proposed, and President Lugo ratified, a 60-day “state of exception” (similar to a state of emergency), with the goal of apprehending members of the EPP to reassure the populace, but there were no arrests. President Lugo then deployed the military to two Paraguayan departments. The EPP's small size, scattered membership, and location in areas lacking a strong security presence hindered law enforcement efforts against it.
Paraguay continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Paraguay is President Pro Tempore member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America Against Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-type regional body. In October, Paraguay passed a law allowing the Secretariat for the Prevention of Money Laundering to freeze assets related to terrorist financing for a finite period of time. The new legislation provides better tracking, reporting, and enforcement powers, which makes it a more effective entity to assist prosecutors in securing convictions for terrorist financing. There were no convictions for terrorist financing cases in Paraguay in 2011.
Paraguay did not monitor and regulate alternative remittance services, however, the Central Bank was analyzing how it could monitor and regulate money or value transfer systems, such as transfer services via cell phones. Paraguay did not monitor non-profit organizations to prevent misuse and terrorist financing, nor were there any known plans to begin this regulation.
Regional and International Cooperation: Paraguay is a member of the Organization of American States and participated in border protection initiatives with the Southern Common Market and the Union of South American Nations.
Overview: Peru's primary counterterrorism concern remained Sendero Luminoso (SL or Shining Path). Although Peru nearly eliminated SL in the 1990s, the organization is well-entwined with narcotics trafficking and remained a threat. The Upper Huallaga Valley (UHV) faction of SL was largely reduced, and in December the faction's leader publicly acknowledged defeat. Separately, the much larger and stronger rival SL faction in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) maintained its influence in that area. The two SL factions combined are believed to have several hundred armed members, while the number of its supporters in the urban areas is unknown. Although SL demonstrated less revolutionary dogmatism in its tactics than in the past, leaders continued to use Peruvian variations of Maoist philosophy to justify their illicit activities. Involvement in drug production and trafficking provided SL with funding to conduct operations, improve relations with local communities in remote areas, and recruit new members.
Government efforts to improve interagency cooperation, especially in intelligence, and to strengthen prosecutorial capacity were somewhat successful. Police units specializing in counterterrorism and counternarcotics conducted several joint operations with the Peruvian Army in the UHV. SL in the UHV did not conduct any major attacks against law enforcement or the military, but did kill five civilians it accused of being informants.
The Peruvian government's position has long been that prosecution of Artemio for terrorism and narcotics trafficking charges, upon his capture, would be non-negotiable, and this was reiterated on December 8, when the Ministers of Defense and Interior publicly stated the Humala government “would not negotiate” terms of surrender.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) continued to use remote areas along the Colombian-Peruvian border to regroup and to make arms purchases. Peruvian government experts believed the FARC continued to fund coca cultivation and cocaine production among the Peruvian population in border areas, including instances of forced labor or killings related to cocaine production or trafficking.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: Together, the two factions of SL carried out 74 terrorist acts that killed five civilians in the UHV, and 14 members of the military in the VRAE. For the first time since 2003, there were no police casualties. The attacks included:
- On January 7, SL killed a 43-year-old civilian and his 19-year-old son in Santo Domingo, Huacaybamba Province, Huanuco Region. The bodies were found with a sign written in red ink reading, “This is how informants die. Long Live President Gonzalo.”
- SL abducted a civilian from a party in Jose Crespo y Castillo, Leoncio Prado Province, Huanuco Region, took him to a bridge, and shot him. His body was found May 2 with a sign written in red ink reading, “This is how informants die, and delinquents who act in the name of the Party.” The victim had reportedly been charging fines from people in the area and claiming to be collecting funds for SL.
- On July 27, SL intercepted and shot a 65-year-old civilian on a motorcycle in Jose Crespo y Castillo, Leoncio Prado Province, Huanuco Region. His body was found with a sign written in red ink reading, “This is how informants/traitors die. Long live the Peruvian Communist Party – Huallaga Base.”
- On December 12, SL conducted two apparently coordinated attacks. In the first attack, SL fired shots on a convoy. The driver of a military truck lost control and flipped his vehicle, dying from the impact. Four other soldiers were injured in the vehicle, and another soldier suffered bullet wounds. In the second attack, SL fired shots on a helicopter landing about 10 kilometers from the first site, wounding the pilot.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: President Humala continued reauthorizing 60-day states of emergency in parts of seven regions in the UHV and the VRAE where SL operated, giving the armed forces additional authority to maintain public order.
Authorities collected no biometrics information, and citizens of neighboring countries were allowed to travel to Peru by land using national identification cards only. There was no visa requirement for citizens of most countries in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe.
Police killed one and detained 162 suspected terrorists during the year.
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. About 550 people remained in prison in connection with terrorism convictions or charges. Many others have been released in recent years, having completed their sentences or been released on parole after serving three-fourths of their sentence. In October 2009, the Peruvian Congress passed legislation eliminating parole benefits for convicted terrorists, and in September, the Constitutional Tribunal, Peru's highest court, began reviewing a claim brought by the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights that the 2009 law was unconstitutional.
Peru participated in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Peru is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America Against Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In May, the Government of Peru announced a “National Plan to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing,” which the International Monetary Fund supported. Following the inauguration of the Humala Administration on July 28, the Prime Minister and the Superintendent of Banks, Insurance, and Pension Funds (SBS) expressed commitment to implement this National Plan and to cooperate with the United States to fight financial crimes.
The Government of Peru has not established terrorist finance as a crime under Peruvian legislation in a manner that would conform to international standards. SBS advocated that Congress pass a bill to criminalize terrorist financing.
The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in April suspended cooperation with the SBS' Financial Intelligence Unit because of a leak of sensitive information published in the Peruvian press.
Regional and International Cooperation: Peru is an active member in the Organization of American States (OAS), the Union of South American Nations, the Andean Community, and participated in the OAS's Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) training and other events.
Overview: In May, for the sixth consecutive year, the U.S. Department of State determined, pursuant to section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act, that Venezuela was not cooperating fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts. On September 8, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the U.S. Department of Treasury designated four senior Venezuelan officials as acting for or on behalf of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in direct support of the group's narcotics and arms trafficking activities.
Venezuela and Colombia continued the dialogue they began in 2010 on security and border issues. On several occasions during the year, President Chavez said, in reference to the FARC and National Liberation Army (ELN), that the government would not permit the presence of illegal armed groups in Venezuelan territory. Venezuela captured and returned four lower-level FARC and ELN members to Colombia in 2011.
Venezuela maintained its economic, financial, and diplomatic cooperation with Iran as well as limited military related agreements. On May 24, the U.S. Department of State announced sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned petroleum company (PDVSA) for delivering at least two cargoes of reformate ( the product of a hydrocarbon reforming process; an intermediate in the production of fuels such as gasoline) to Iran worth approximately $50 million in violation of the Iran Sanctions Act, as amended. On May 23, the U.S. Department of State re-imposed sanctions against the Venezuela Military Industries Company under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Non-Proliferation Act because of credible information that it had transferred to or acquired from Iran, North Korea, or Syria, equipment and technology listed on multilateral export control lists. The Banco Internacional de Desarrollo C.A., a subsidiary of the Banco de Desarrollo y Exportacion de Iran, continued to operate in Venezuela despite its designation in 2008 by the U.S. Treasury Department under Executive Order 13382 (“Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and their Supporters").
There were credible reports that Hizballah sympathizers and supporters engaged in fundraising and support activity in Venezuela.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: In October, Venezuela installed biometric equipment to register photos and fingerprints of all those entering Margarita Island. The Venezuelan government said the equipment was intended to help authorities detect criminals or wanted suspects.
Venezuela did not respond to a second request from the Spanish government for the extradition of Arturo Cubillas Fontan, a naturalized Venezuelan citizen and employee of the Venezuelan government, who was wanted in connection with an ongoing investigation regarding alleged links between the FARC and Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA). The second request included the additional charge that Fontan was an ETA member and leader. Spanish security forces and Spain's judicial system continued investigations into allegations of ETA training camps in Venezuela. In January, in a joint operation with French police, the Civil Guard arrested an ETA information technology specialist who had previously traveled to Venezuela to train ETA and Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) members. On June 17, Inaki Dominguez Atxalandabaso was arrested in France, under a National Court arrest warrant for allegedly training FARC members in Venezuela.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Venezuela is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body; the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission Anti-Money Laundering Group; and the Egmont Group. In 2011, Venezuela passed a series of counterterrorist financing regulations affecting insurance companies, securities brokerages, notaries, public registration offices, and operators of casinos, bingo halls, and slot machines. The regulations required these entities to adopt measures to assess money laundering and terrorist financing risks and to implement more rigorous controls for high-risk customers. Venezuela created a special office in the Public Ministry to prosecute money laundering, financial, and economic crimes. There is no information available regarding the enforcement of the new regulations or any prosecutions, convictions, or asset seizures related to terrorist financing. The Venezuelan Constitution prohibits the automatic freezing of assets and requires a legal process before such action can be taken.
Regional and International Cooperation: Venezuela is a member of the Organization of American States. On December 2-3, Venezuela hosted the inaugural summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.