The alleged member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Alexander Beltran Herrera, has been extradited from Columbia to the United States to face terrorism-related charges, including taking three American citizens hostage after their plane crash-landed in a remote region of Columbia in 2003. FARC is Columbia’s largest guerrilla army, which was established in 1964 as a military wing of the Columbian Communist Party and seeks to overthrow the Columbian government through means of violence, intimidation and corruption. Whilst the guerrilla organisation is described as a terrorist group by the Columbian government, as well as by the United States, the European Union, Chile, Canada and New Zealand, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and Venezuela, do not classify FARC as being associated with terrorism. In 2008, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez referred to FARC as being a “real army” and called on the Columbian government to recognise the group as a “belligerent force”, stating that this would then force them to stop acts of terrorism and kidnappings (1).
The list of terrorist acts carried out by Colombian leftist guerilla organization FARC continues to grow, as the decades-long campaign of terror maintains a violent grip on the country. According to the Colombian government, FARC guerillas are responsible for the killings of more than 267 soldiers and police officers this year alone. In 2010, FARC militants killed 460 and wounded more than 2000. Two groups, FARC and the ELN, were formed in the 1960s following more than a decade of political violence. ELN was founded by Cuban Leader Fidel Castro’s supporters and shares many ideological principals with FARC, which built communist and peasant militias, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Today FARC is the most expansive and well-armed rebel force with anywhere between 9,000 and 16,000 fighters at any given time. FARC fighters control about a third of Colombia and operate primarily out of jungles in the South and East.
The word ‘Terrorist’ is thrown around a lot lately and has been since the 1970s when modern military capabilities and intelligence units began to advance rapidly, driving guerrilla and resistance movements largely underground. While some people take the view that any organization, be it a state military or local militia that impact negatively on civilians are ‘terrorists’, the official explanation of a terrorist goes like this: “Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or ideological goal, deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians), and are committed by non-government agencies.” – Wikipedia, Terrorism. So the groups below are the U.S. State Department designated terrorist organizations. They are well-known terrorist groups, which have had huge effects on regions throughout the world including Europe, Asia, Africa and both North and South America. Their goal is to create fear in the public so that civilians of the targeted society will put pressure on their leaders to give in to the demands of the opposing organization.