Victor Suarez Rojas, also known as Mono Jojoy, was the commander of FARC until he was killed during a 2010 raid by the Colombian military. (AFP / Getty Images)
Earlier this year, leaders of U.S. Southern Command told Congress that ISR support provided to nations south of Mexico had led to more than “32 high-value narco-terrorists killed in action.” Just who were these individuals killed with U.S. help? SOUTHCOM’s posture statement didn’t say. So we asked.
It turns out they were members of Colombia’s FARC and ELN rebel groups or of Peru’s Shining Path, according to an emailed response from SOUTHCOM spokesman Jose Ruiz.
Each of those groups has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization.
Ruiz said the posture statement was in reference to US Air Force ISR support for Colombian and Peruvian forces.
Adam Isaacson of the Washington Office on Latin America, a human-rights nongovernmental organization, said he had not seen the figures from SOUTHCOM but said they would probably mostly be FARC in Colombia, rather then Shining Path in Peru.
“The Colombian government strategy since 2007 has been taking out high-value targets. They call it their HVT strategy. Mainly, it’s FARC. High value would include a front commander or maybe just the chief of finance of a front, or the head of a regional column. Maybe the head of some small ‘banda criminal’— a former paramilitary group.”
He said the Colombian program has been killing hundreds of people each year.
“For the U.S. to have a hand in only 32 of them, seems kind of low,” he said. “It’s a very old school ‘body count’ way of doing this. It would be more impres-sive if they tabulated captured targets.”
(This story appears in the print edition of C4ISR Journal)