by Major David E. Smith USMC
The widespread cooperation that is evident among large segments
of the fundamentalist Islamic movement is not apparent in other
regions of the world. Consider Central and South America.
Geographical separation hampers teamwork among many in this
region. There is a further problem of vastly different ideologies of
the various groups. Even if they are not well coordinated, active
terrorist movements in South America do exhibit a wide variety of
Peru is a good example of a South American nation where
terrorism is thriving. The Shining Path Organization (Sendero
Luminoso) is among the most ruthless terrorist groups in the world.
Sendero forces originally operated in the Peruvian countryside.
Members occupy a village, set up a revolutionary government, and
organize a popular school in the community. Once established, the
school is used to increase the literacy of the villagers and
propagandize. Teachers constantly evaluate the students to identify
potential recruits. All recruiting is instigated by the movement in
order to reduce the possibility of organizational penetration. Once
identified, candidates spend approximately one year receiving
political indoctrination and conducting propaganda activities such as
slogan painting on walls. They also take instruction on guerrilla
strategy. As the candidate progresses, he or she is trained in the use
of firearms and explosives. Physical training is also emphasized.
Members who have been fully accepted into the group are assigned
to a terrorist cell.55 The real education for Sendero active cadre is
provided by on the job training in military action against
government forces, organized peasants, or other terrorists such as
Tupac Amaru collaborators. To date there has been no substantiated
evidence of external training being provided to Sendero members.
The movement prefers self sufficiency.
Colombia is another South American nation facing a substantial
indigenous terrorist threat. Its l9th of April Movement (M-l9),
famed for its daring l985 seizure of the Supreme Court Building in
Bogota, has demonstrated remarkable resiliency. In l99O only three
of the movement's approximately 27O fighters refused to accept a
government deal requiring them to lay down their arms. Since then
the group has swelled to 25O members.56 The training methods of
M-l9 are not well known, but it is presumed that current members
receive instruction in Colombia.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is a large
group consisting of 4-5,OOO members. In contrast to the
independent methods typical of South American terrorist groups,
FARC leadership has supported the creation of the Simon Bolivar
Guerrilla Coordinator (SBGC), which is designed to harmonize the
efforts of disparate Colombian terror groups. If successful, SBGC may
potentially lead to cooperative training among the terrorist groups of
Central and South American terrorism is often associated with
right wing political movements. So called "death squads", often
comprised of military or police personnel, are active in many
countries. They employ their law enforcement and martial skills in
the conduct of their operations. Right wing terrorists with
government connections (state-support) also enjoy virtual immunity
from prosecution, although they risk retaliation from the enemies
they attack. Right wing groups are also likely to have access to high
quality weapons, explosives, and detonators from state arsenals.