February 19, 2017: Left-wing bombing in Colombia

On February 19, 2017 a bomb went off in a street near to the Plaza de Toros in the Colombian capital of Bogota, killing one police officer and wounding dozens.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA – Sometimes what looks like an obvious explanation for terrorism isn’t.

An author I like a lot and to whom I have referred on several occasion is the Canadian linguist/cognitive psychologist/public science educator Steven Pinker. His 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is to my mind one of the most interesting accounts of how and why we as a species have become less nasty over the centuries. I highly recommend you pick it up.

I have no intention of summarising all 832 (!) pages but in essence he does show, convincingly I think, that a number of phenomena demonstrate that we are now less violent overall. One such phenomenon is cruelty to animals. Where once activities such as bear-baiting and ‘tearing wool off of living sheep‘ (I am NOT making this up!) were accepted for the longest of time they are now unconscionable.

Really? Look me in the eye and now tell me you can mistreat me. (Photo: Miwok on Flickr, Public Domain)

One activity that is still common, and which has enraged animal rights activists, is bullfighting. It is largely a Hispanic custom but with origins in ancient history. And it has invited terrorist attacks…kinda.

On this day in 2017

A bomb went off in a street near to the Plaza de Toros in the Colombian capital of Bogota, killing one police officer and wounding dozens. An animal rights group had planned to march against the holding of the season’s last bullfight. Ergo the activists were responsible, right?

Hang on a second!

Todas nuestras hipótesis señalan que esto no tuvo nada que ver con los antitaurinos. Esto es una bomba, es un artefacto, elaborado por personas que tienen conocimientos técnicos de qué es lo que estaban haciendo. (Translation: We do not think this was the work of those opposed to bullfighting. This was a bomb made by those with the necessary technical know-how).

Bogota mayor Penalosa

In the end, the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN – National Liberation Army) claimed the attack, adding that it was to protest peace talks with the government (NB Colombia reached an agreement with the better known FARC in 2016 to end 52 years of terrorism although unrepentant FARC members, as well as the ELN, have continued their campaigns of violence).

It is thus clear that this incident was not the work of those against alleged animal cruelty. Not that some in these movements are not capable of violence, but not on this occasion.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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