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UNITED SELF-DEFENSE FORCES OF COLOMBIA
aka AUC; Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 10, 2001, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) – commonly referred to as the paramilitaries – was formed in April 1997. AUC was designed to serve as an umbrella group for loosely affiliated, illegal paramilitary groups retaliating against leftist guerillas. As the Colombian government increasingly confronted terrorist organizations, including the AUC, the group’s activities decreased. In the years after the AUC declared a cease-fire in December 2002, the AUC’s centralized military structure was dismantled and all of the top paramilitary chiefs have since stepped down.
Activities: The AUC has carried out political killings and kidnappings of human rights workers, journalists, teachers, and trade unionists, among others. As much as 70 percent of the AUC’s paramilitary operational costs were financed with drug-related earnings. Some former members of the AUC never demobilized or are recidivists, and these elements have continued to engage heavily in criminal activities. The AUC did not carry out any terrorist attacks in 2012.
Location/Area of Operation: Strongest in Northwest Colombia, with affiliate groups in Valle del Cauca, on the west coast, and Meta Department, in Central Columbia.
Funding and External Aid: None