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Sendero Luminoso (SL)
Shining Path


Former university professor Abimael Guzman formed the Shining Path (SL) in Peru in the late 1960s; his teachings created the foundation of SL's militant Maoist doctrine. In the 1980s, SL became one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere. The Peruvian government made dramatic gains against SL during the 1990s, capturing Guzman in 1992 and killing a large number of militants. SL's stated goal is to destroy existing Peruvian institutions and replace them with a communist peasant revolutionary regime. It also opposes any influence by foreign governments. More recently, SL members have attempted to influence the local populace through indoctrination as opposed to violence.


In the past, SL has conducted indiscriminate bombing campaigns, ambushes, and selective assassinations. Remnants of SL now focus on drug-trafficking and production activities to obtain funds to carry out attacks.

A recent increase in SL attacks against Peruvian security forces and counter-narcotics personnel during fall 2008 underscored that the SL remained a threat. In response to SL's bloody attacks, Peruvian authorities stepped up counterterrorism efforts against the group and have since kept the SL remnants largely on the defensive.


Membership is unknown but estimated to be 200 to 300 armed militants.

Location/Area of Operation

Peru, with most activity in rural areas.

External Aid


Sources and Resources

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Updated May 24, 2010