Terrorist Threat Blog

by Antiterrorism Consulting

Terrorist Group




aka SL; Sendero Luminoso; Ejercito Guerrillero Popular (People’s Guerrilla Army); EGP; Ejercito Popular de Liberacion (People’s Liberation Army); EPL; Partido Comunista del Peru (Communist Party of Peru); PCP; Partido Comunista del Peru en el Sendero Luminoso de Jose Carlos Mariategui (Communist Party of Peru on the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui); Socorro Popular del Peru (People’s Aid of Peru); SPP

Description: Shining Path (SL) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Former university professor Abimael Guzman formed SL in Peru in the late 1960s, and his teachings created the foundation of SL’s militant Maoist doctrine. SL’s stated goal is to destroy existing Peruvian institutions and replace them with a communist peasant revolutionary regime. It also opposes any influence by foreign governments. In the 1980s, SL was one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere. The Peruvian government made dramatic gains against SL during the 1990s, capturing Guzman in 1992, and killing a large number of militants. In 2011, 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, Ene, and Montaro River Valley (VRAEM) expanded in 2012.

Activities: SL carried out 87 known attacks in 2012, killing one civilian and 18 members of the security forces. In April, SL combatants kidnapped 36 natural gas workers from the Camisea pipeline outside the VRAEM zone. During failed rescue attempts, eight security forces were killed, 10 were wounded and a U.S.-owned helicopter operated by the police was destroyed. All 36 workers were released unharmed within five days. In June, SL guerrillas briefly seized 18 Camisea pipeline workers from an area close to the April kidnapping site. The hostages were released unharmed. In August, SL ambushed a Peruvian army patrol in a remote part of the VRAEM, killing five soldiers and wounding six others. In September, SL combatants damaged the Camisea gas pipeline near Kepashiato and killed a soldier aboard the helicopter that came to inspect the damage. In Echarate, a district in the region of Cusco, SL members blew up three helicopters subcontracted by Camisea in October.

Strength: The two SL factions together are believed to have several hundred armed members.

Location/Area of Operation: Peru, with most activity in rural areas, specifically the Huallaga Valley and the Apurimac, Ene, and Montaro River Valley of central Peru.

Funding and External Aid: SL is primarily funded by the narcotics trade.