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January Today in Terrorism

January 10, 2001: FARC car bombing in Medellin

On this day in 2001 at least one person was killed and 50 wounded in a car bomb explosion in a parking garage at a shopping centre in Medellin, Colombia

MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA – It is important to remember that in an era of jihadi this and jihadi that (and increasingly right wing this and right wing that) there were other more lethal terrorist movements in the recent past.

A couple of years ago I was in Medellin, Colombia for a counter terrorism conference. I had been invited for two reasons, I think: I was the senior terrorism strategic analyst at CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and I happened to be fluent in Spanish. As the conference was hosted by the local intelligence agency, being able to communicate en espanol was a noted advantage!

While in Medellin I went to a local mall with a colleague of mine. We parked in the garage and went shopping. Except it wasn’t as straightforward as that. We were subject to a search as was our vehicle – inside and out – by a security agency.

Um, this guy parked on an angle – should we remove the vehicle (Photo: Global Security Solutions )

It turns out that this practice was necessary.

On this day in 2001

At least one person was killed and 50 wounded in a car bomb explosion in a parking garage at the ‘exclusive’ El Tesoro shopping centre. The blast took place during the evening rush hour, sending debris and shrapnel up a stairwell.

I saw flames, a lot, a lot of flames, and people who didn’t know what to do and lots of people who were hurt in the car park.

Eyewitness

Authorities suspect a bomb planted by one of the country’s left-wing rebel movements, but no group has said it was responsible for the attack. Meaning: likely the FARC (Frente Armada Revolucionaria de Colombia) but not necessarily. Others suggested extortion by street gangs who control much of Medellin could not been ruled out either.

The FARC may well be yesteryear’s terrorist group in the wake of a ‘peace deal’ with the Colombian government but I would not label them moribund just yet. After all, they were active for 50 years!

It is usually wise not to declare any terrorist group ‘dead’ – yet.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Programme Director for the Security, Economics and Technology (SET) hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of five books on terrorism.

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