ELN Leader Alias Uriel Neutralized in Colombia
By Yolima Dussán/Diálogo December 08, 2020
During a joint operation, the Colombian Military Forces and the National Police neutralized on October 25, 2020, Andrés Felipe Vanegas Londoño, alias Uriel, a leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish) who was identified as the third commander of the western war front.
“One of the most visible figures of that terrorist organization has fallen,” said Colombian President Iván Duque, who announced the payment of $130,000 that his government was offering as a reward for information leading to the criminal’s capture. “Uriel was responsible for kidnappings, murder of social leaders, persecution and harassment against citizens, and the murder of soldiers and police officers.”
On October 25, the Armed Forces General Command said that Uriel had taken responsibility for the attack against the General Santander National Police Academy on January 17, 2019, where 22 agents died.
“He was a criminal whose goal was to destabilize […] through acts of violence, vandalism, and terrorism, which he carried out using, in addition to weapons and lethal instruments, social networks as a communication and propaganda platform at the national and international level to advocate for crime, spread criminal activities, and challenge the Colombian State,” Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo said.
“In 2018, he began using social networks. This path led the Military Forces to place him at five locations on the Chocó coast,” said General Oscar Atehortúa, National Police director, who recognized as key the information obtained “from some students and radical groups, mainly in Bogotá, Medellín, and Pereira.” Uriel received young people from these cities and induced them to join the ELN’s urban cells.
“The neutralization of this leader makes a significant contribution to reducing the forced recruitment of minors in the most vulnerable communities of Chocó, mainly indigenous populations, as he was the leader of the ELN’s Political School for Youth,” the Colombian Army indicated in a statement.