FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
FARC TERRORIST INDICTED FOR 2003 GRENADE ATTACK
ON AMERICANS IN COLOMBIA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein of the District of Columbia today announced that a member of the Colombian terrorist group the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) has been indicted on charges of attempted murder and use of weapons of mass destruction for a November 2003 grenade attack aimed at Americans in Colombia.
The seven-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., last month and unsealed today, charges defendant Arturo Montaño Torres with conspiring in 2003 to murder U.S. nationals who were working in Bogota, Colombia. Count One charges Montaño with conspiracy to commit murder of U.S. nationals, in violation of 18 USC Sections 2332(b)(2) and 1111(a). Counts Two through Five charge Montaño with attempted murder of U.S. nationals, in violation of 18 USC Section 2332(b)(1). Counts Six and Seven charge Montaño with use of a weapon of mass destruction - a grenade - against U.S. nationals, in violation of 18 USC Sections 2332(a)(1) and (2).
Specifically, the indictment unsealed today charges Montaño with the Nov. 15, 2003, grenade attacks at the Bogota Beer Company and Palos De Moguer - two dining establishments in a popular Bogota entertainment and shopping district known as the Zona Rosa. The grenade blasts killed a Colombian woman and injured 73 others, including five Americans.
Montaño was apprehended immediately after the attack by Colombian police, with the help of a local security guard, and he is currently in Colombian custody. The indictment unsealed today alleges that the grenade attacks were in retaliation against Americans for the killing of Teofilo Forrero Mobile Column (TFMC) commander Edgar Gustavo Navaro Morales, a/k/a El Mocho, by the Colombian army in October 2003. The TFMC, of which Montaño is allegedly a member, is responsible for specialized FARC operations in designated geographical areas of Colombia.
The indictment alleges that Montaño, selected by unindicted conspirators in the FARC to travel to Bogota to attack and kill U.S. nationals, was provided grenades, other weapons and money in the weeks prior to the attacks on the restaurants in Zona Rosa. The indictment further alleges that Montaño and others conducted surveillance on restaurants in the two days prior to the attacks. Montaño allegedly threw a grenade onto an outdoor table at the Bogota Beer Company, killing Colombian national Paola Martinez and injuring dozens of others, including four Americans. Montaño then allegedly threw a grenade into the dining area of Palos De Moguer, where another American was sitting.
“Terrorists and terrorist organizations like the FARC who target innocent Americans living or traveling abroad must know that the U.S. government will take every step it can to bring them to justice for their cowardly attacks on our citizens,” said Attorney General Ashcroft.
“The indictment unsealed today, like other recent indictments of the FARC and its members, shows the organization for what it truly is: a narco-terrorist operation that seeks to harm Americans and other innocent civilians,” said Assistant Attorney General Wray. “We will continue to work closely with our counterparts in Colombia to see that these terrorists are brought to justice.”
“This case is the product of hard work and cooperation between the United States and the Colombian governments,” said U.S. Attorney Wainstein. “The defendant’s apprehension demonstrates the courage and resolve of Colombian citizens and officials to put an end to such barbaric violence on their soil, and his indictment reflects this government’s commitment to prosecuting terrorists to the fullest extent of the law. On behalf of the many victims of this terrible attack, we look forward to bringing this defendant to justice.”
The FARC is an armed and violent organization that, since its inception in 1966, has been strongly anti-American and has targeted American citizens who work in, visit or do business in Colombia. The group, which was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the Secretary of State in October 1997 and most recently in October 2003, engages in terrorist activity including murder, hostage taking and violent destruction of property.
The investigation of this case is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.