U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
1995 APRIL: PATTERNS OF GLOBAL TERRORISM, 1994
Department of State Publication 10239
Office of the Secretary
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Philip C. Wilcox, Jr.
LATIN AMERICAN OVERVIEW
Latin America continued to have a high level of international terrorist
activity, although the number of attacks decreased by 40 percent from
the previous year to 58 attacks.
In July, an attack on the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) in
Buenos Aires killed nearly 100 persons and injured more than 200. The
leading suspect in this incident is Hizballah. Twenty-one persons, of
whom 12 were Jewish, were killed when a Panamanian commuter aircraft was
bombed in July, apparently by a suicide bomber. These attacks raised
concerns about the reported presence of members of Hizballah in Latin
America, especially in the triborder area where Brazilian, Argentine,
and Paraguayan territories meet.
Colombia continued to suffer the highest incidence of terrorist violence
in the region. Guerrillas attacked the democratic process by attempting
to sabotage Colombia's 1994 presidential, congressional, and
departmental elections. Rebel organizations also targeted petroleum
companies and infiltrated trade unions, particularly in the banana and
petroleum industries, intimidating rank-and-file union members. US
business interests and Mormon missionaries were attacked by guerrillas,
and nine US citizens were being held hostage by guerrillas at the end of
the year. Six of these were US missionaries. Kidnapping continued as a
major source of income for the Colombian guerrillas.
Guerrillas in the region continued to attack national interests causing
damage to local economies particularly in Colombia, Peru, and Guatemala.
In the Andean Region, the connection between guerrilla groups and narco-
traffickers remained strong. Guerrillas forced coca and amapola
cultivators to pay protection money and attacked government efforts to
Terrorist violence decreased in Peru during the year. The Sendero
Luminoso (Shining Path) assassinated 150 persons, down from 516 the
previous year when its leader was imprisoned. Various Peruvian terrorist
groups suffered setbacks due to arrests, casualties, and defections
under the government's amnesty program. Government actions in Chile also
resulted in a decline of terrorist violence.
In reaction to the terrorist violence in the region, the heads of state
of the Western Hemisphere nations adopted a plan of action against
terrorism at the December Summit of the Americas. The plan called for
cooperation among nations in combating terrorism and for the prosecution
of terrorists while protecting human rights. The nations of the
hemisphere also agreed to convene a special OAS conference on the
prevention of terrorism and reaffirmed the importance of extradition
treaties in combating terrorism.
Argentina suffered the worst terrorist attack perpetrated in Latin
America during 1994. On 18 July, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle
loaded with explosives in front of the AMIA. The powerful bombing killed
nearly 100 people, many of whom were crushed by the collapsing building.
The bombing of Argentina's main Jewish center was operationally similar
to the 1992 bombing directed against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos
Aires, which left 29 persons dead and destroyed the building. The
Islamic Jihad organization, an arm of the Lebanese Hizballah, claimed
responsibility for the 1992 bombing. According to media reports, an
organization using the name Ansar Allah, or Followers of God, issued a
statement expressing support for the 1994 operation. The Argentine
Government dedicated substantial resources to investigate the bombing,
but the crime remained unsolved at yearend.
Politically motivated violence in Chile declined dramatically in 1994 as
Chilean security forces reined in the nation's terrorist groups. In
June, the government all but eliminated the Lautaro terrorist
organization by capturing its founder and leader, Guillermo Ossandon,
one of the most wanted outlaws in Chile. A second round of arrests was
made against second-tier Lautaro leaders in August. Two prominent
members of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) voluntarily
returned from exile to Chile and were arrested by police. One of them,
Sergio Buschman -- wanted for his role in directing a multiton shipment of
Cuban-supplied weapons into Chile in 1986 -- had escaped from a Chilean
prison in 1987 and lived several years in Nicaragua.
Colombia's two main guerrilla groups -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) -- intensified
political violence during 1994, particularly preceding presidential,
congressional, and municipal elections. In part to intimidate
politicians and government officials, the insurgents conducted dozens of
bombings, kidnappings of candidates, and assassinations of local
officials and members of the security forces. In July, the FARC
assassinated an Army general, the highest ranking Army casualty in two
While the vast majority of the violence in the nation was directed
against local targets, Colombia was the location of 41 international
terrorist attacks in 1994, the highest in the region. Oil pipelines
owned jointly by the Government of Colombia and Western companies
continued to be bombed by the rebels, but at a slower pace than in 1993.
US interests sustained several terrorist attacks during the year, more
than in any other Latin American country. For instance, suspected ELN
rebels bombed a Coca-Cola plant in January, and FARC and ELN guerrillas
attacked at least five Mormon churches during the year. The rebels also
conducted a series of kidnappings of US citizens; the FARC is suspected
of kidnapping at least five US citizens in 1994. At yearend, both rebel
groups held hostage as many as nine Americans, six of whom are US
missionaries. This appears to be the largest number of Americans held in
Colombia at any one time.
In 1994 there were 1,378 reported kidnappings, a 35-percent increase
from 1993. This figure, however, is considered low because many families
deal with the kidnappers directly without reporting the crime. It is
estimated that 50 percent of these recorded instances were by guerrillas
who rely on the ransom payments to finance their activities.
In November, after only a few months in office, President Ernesto Samper
announced his administration's willingness to negotiate with the
nation's violent guerrilla organizations, emphasizing that the
insurgents need to demonstrate a genuine desire for reaching a
negotiated settlement. Unlike his predecessor, the President did not
condition negotiations on a rebel cease-fire. While both the FARC and
ELN have characterized the government's proposal as positive, government
officials cautioned against expectations that negotiations would begin
The government is also exposing further links between the guerrillas and
narcotraffickers. Various guerrilla fronts, particularly in southeastern
Colombia, provide security and other services for different narcotics
The only significant act of domestic terrorism in 1994 was the
dynamiting of a power transmission tower in May by a group known as the
Red Sun, which led to the rapid apprehension of the group's leadership.
The group was disbanded following the arrest of its leaders.
Despite on-again/off-again peace talks, Guatemala's34-year-old
insurgency continues. There are three major armed guerrilla groups -- the
FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces), the ORPA (Revolutionary Organization
of the People in Arms), and the EGP (Guerrilla Army of the Poor). These
groups, along with the Communist PGT (Guatemalan Workers' Party), are
allied in the URNG (Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union).
On 19 July a bomb aboard a commuter plane flying between Colon and
Panama City detonated, killing all 21 persons aboard, including three
American citizens. Twelve of the passengers were Jews. According to
media reports, an organization using the name Ansar Allah, or Followers
of God, issued a statement expressing support for the bombing, which
appeared to be a suicide operation by a person with a Middle Eastern
name. Panama has made no arrests in connection with the bombing, but it
is cooperating closely with a US law enforcement investigation.
At yearend, Panamanian authorities had outstanding arrest warrants for
two of the three individuals sought for questioning in connection with
the 1992 murder of US Army Corporal Zak Hernandez. On 23 September,
Panamanian President Ernesto Perez Balladares granted amnesties to 216
individuals, including six former Panamanian Defense Force personnel
linked to the 1989 kidnapping, torture, and murder of American citizen
Raymond Dragseth during Operation Just Cause.
Political violence and the number of international terrorist incidents
in Peru declined in 1994. Both of Peru's terrorist organizations -- Sendero
Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
(MRTA) -- suffered serious reversals during the year, including numerous
arrests, casualties, and defections under the government's amnesty
program for terrorists, which was phased out in November. The MRTA, the
smaller of the two groups, was hit hard by the government's
counterterrorism effort and is virtually defunct.
Two years after the capture of Abimael Guzman, Sendero Luminoso's
founder and leader, the Maoist terrorist group is struggling, attempting
to rebuild and resolve its leadership problems. Guzman's 1993 peace
offer continued to divide the organization between Sendero militants in
favor of continuing the armed struggle and those preferring to adhere to
their jailed leader's proposal. Consequently, recruitment of new cadres
has been hindered. Moreover, during the past two years Sendero's
financial lifeline -- the narcotics industry in the coca-rich Upper
Huallaga Valley (UHV) -- was disrupted, largely because of a coca plant
fungus in UHV and a more active government counternarcotics policy.
The Fujimori government continued to maintain its momentum against
Sendero in 1994. Peruvian police detained two Sendero Central Committee
members operating in Lima, weakening the group's urban infrastructure
and a planned terrorism campaign to commemorate a revered Sendero
anniversary in June. The arrests further exacerbated logistic and
financial problems in the organization. One of the detainees, Moises
Limaco, was one of the most senior Sendero leaders reportedly
responsible for coordinating logistics and personnel.
Despite these setbacks, Sendero proved it can still inflict serious
damage. During 1994, Sendero murdered more than 150 Peruvians, down from
516 in 1993. In February, suspected Sendero militants detonated an 80-
kilogram car bomb against the Air Force headquarters building in central
Lima, killing two persons. In October, the group destroyed six
electrical towers, cutting off power temporarily in nearly all of Lima,
much of the Peruvian coast, and part of the Sierra highlands.
Three suspected members of the Basque separatist movement ETA were
extradited to Spain in August by the Uruguayan Supreme Court. President
Luis Alberto Lacalle's refusal to grant political asylum for the three
prompted death threats against Uruguayan diplomats in Spain. Riots
outside the hospital where the hunger strikers were held on the day of
their extradition resulted in one death, 90 injuries, and 28 arrests.