Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path, or SL)
Former university professor Abimael Guzman formed Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path, or SL) in the late 1960s, and his teachings created the foundation of SL's militant Maoist doctrine. In the 1980s, SL became one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere; approximately 30,000 persons have died since Shining Path took up arms in 1980. Shining Path'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, as well as by other Latin American guerrilla groups, especially the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).
In 2001 the Peruvian National Police thwarted an SL attack against "an American objective," possibly the U.S. Embassy, when they arrested two Lima SL cell members. Addtionally, government authorities continued to arrest and prosecute active SL members, including Ruller Mazombite (a.k.a. "Camarada Cayo"), chief of the protection team of SL leader Macario Ala, (a.k.a. "Artemio"), and Evorcio Ascencios (a.k.a. "Camarada Canale"), logistics chief of the Huallaga Regional Committee. Recent counterterrorist operations targeted pockets of terrorist activity in the Upper Huallaga River Valley and the Apurimac/Ene River Valley, where SL columns continued to conduct periodic attacks.
Organization Activities. The Shining Path has conducted indiscriminate bombing campaigns and selective assassinations. Shining Path adherents detonated explosives at diplomatic missions of several countries in Peru in 1990, including an attempt to car bomb the U.S. Embassy. Peruvian authorities continue operations against the Shining Path groups in the countryside, where Shining Path conducts periodic raids on villages.
Actual Shining Path membership is unknown, but is estimated by U.S. government experts to be about 200 armed militants. SL's strength has been vastly diminished by arrests and desertions. The Shining Path operates in Peru, with most activity in rural areas.
█ FURTHER READING:
Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ > (April 16, 2003).
Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001, Annual Report: On the record briefing. May 21, 2002 < http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm > (April 17,2003).
U.S. Department of State. Annual reports. < http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html > (April 16, 2003).