Are Old Terror Groups Re-Forming?

"If you compare it to the height of its activities, it's not the force it used to be," says Jennifer Holmes, Latin America expert at the University of Texas, Dallas. "For a while it looked like they might actually win [control of Peru]. But they don't have the encroachment into Lima they did before."

But the group never completely became extinguished, and has been carrying out dozens of terror acts every year even since Guzman was jailed.

"It was never wiped out," says Holmes. "It's important to remember they never completely went away." And, she adds, a hard-core group of Shining Path members remains committed to its Maoist principles: "They have a lot of ideology left in them."

The March bombing in Lima — the largest attack on an urban target in Peru this year — could herald more trouble to come.

"There are indications that terrorist organizations are continuing to plan actions directed against American citizens and American interests in Peru," warned the U.S. State Department last week.

After Sept. 11, Is a ‘Contagion Effect’ Possible?

Similarly, in Greece, the November 17 terrorist group has never ceased operations since its mid-1970s foundation. And while the United States and Greece have pledged a joint crackdown on the group, the upcoming Olympics could provide November 17 with a chance to conduct new attacks — or bargain with the government in return for the promise of no attacks, as ETA did before the 1992 Barcelona games.

"November 17 is in a unique position of leverage at this time," says Badey. "It may try to push a political agenda in an effort to get some change in policy."

Even if November 17 doesn't attempt any Olympic attacks, others may target the Athens games. And after Sept. 11, Badey says the success of al Qaeda's attacks could conceivably spur other groups into action.

He notes that terror experts have observed a "contagion theory, which says essentially as you watch events on television and in the media, people get affected by these events and motivated — there are people sitting on couches watching on TV thinking, 'We may not want to do that, but [it's] time for us to do something.'"

Holmes, however, disagrees, saying the Shining Path and the ETA, among others, have been continuously active without needing a prod from outside sources: "Historically these groups have had no problem dreaming up things up on their own."

In either case, government officials, law-enforcement agents and anti-terror units in Italy, Peru and elsewhere will be closely watching developments in their own countries — and hoping the social and political turbulence of the moment doesn't seed the growth of newly violent extremists.

"I hope terrorism has been [a non-recurring] disease for Italy," said defense minister Antonio Martino recently. "Once you have had it, you build up antibodies and you are immune to it from them on."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 79999.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...