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March Today in Terrorism

March 2, 1982: Sendero Luminoso initiates jail break in Peru

On this day in 1982 members of the Peruvian terrorist group Sendero Luminoso attacked a police station/penal institution in the city of Ayacucho, killing two officers

AYACUCHO, PERU – If you are a terrorist group and have seen some of your comrades put behind bars sometimes you try to spring them.

Terrorism is a crime, a very serious one. If you are found guilty of planning an act of terrorism and are caught, preferably BEFORE you carry it out (successful suicide bombers need not apply!), you will most likely be put in jail.

Once in prison you are no longer an immediate threat to the public, although what you do while in the clink is something else entirely (I just took part in a Henry Jackson Society webinar on this very issue!). I’ve always said a dead terrorist is a good terrorist: one in a penitentiary is the next best.

Sure, I'm Behind Bars, But I'm Still Morally Superior to You - Pacific  Standard
Pretty hard to carry out a mass casualty attack here! (Photo: BortN66/Shutterstock)

On the other hand, having an important part of your network ‘indisposed’ could make a terrorist group want to get them out. That is exactly what happened in Peru four decades ago.

On this day in 1982

Members of the Peruvian terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) attacked a police station/penal institution in the south-central city of Ayacucho, killing two officers.

In all, more than 300 prisoners escaped, including 70 members of the terrorist group. The terrorists had disguised themselves as police officers to gain entry to the facility. Furthermore, the attackers used dynamite to blow holes in the walls of the prison and engaged in firefights with police.

Marxism-Leninism will open the shining path to revolution.

Sendero Luminoso slogan

Sendero Luminoso is largely a spent force: its leader, Abimael Guzman, was captured in 1992 and the leftist extremists never really recovered from that. Still, their cause is outstanding and in the world of terrorism you never say never.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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