Colombia's new FARC boss, a doctor and strategist

BOGOTA Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:44pm EST

Colombian leftist commanders (L to R) Manuel Marulanda, known as ''sureshot'', Alfonso Cano, peace negociator Raul Reyes, Timochenko, Ivan Marquez and Jorge Briceno, all members of the general secretariat of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), watch a parade of armed fighters in the camp at Villa Colombia near San Vicente del Caguan, April 29. REUTERS

Colombian leftist commanders (L to R) Manuel Marulanda, known as ''sureshot'', Alfonso Cano, peace negociator Raul Reyes, Timochenko, Ivan Marquez and Jorge Briceno, all members of the general secretariat of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), watch a parade of armed fighters in the camp at Villa Colombia near San Vicente del Caguan, April 29.

Credit: Reuters

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's FARC guerrilla leader Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko, is considered a reserved and quiet rebel, seen more as a military strategist than the politically-minded ex-leader whom he replaced.

Trained in irregular warfare in Cuba and politics in Russia in the 1980s, Timochenko took over as head of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, after Colombian forces killed boss Alfonso Cano this month.

The 52-year-old was born Rodrigo Londono in the coffee-growing province of Quindio, and after many years as a militant in the youth communist party, Timochenko completed his medical studies and joined the FARC in the early 1980s.

The guerrilla leader rose rapidly through the ranks of the FARC, becoming part of the seven-member ruling secretariat in the early 1990s, according to Colombian military sources.

Timochenko is now the commander of the Bloque Magdalena Medio - comparable to an army division -, is believed to operate in the Norte de Santander region and to be head of intelligence, according to Colombian security services.

Married to a woman thought to live in Venezuela and with two daughters, the bearded Timochenko treats his subordinates well but delegates little, according to government sources.

Colombian intelligence services consider Timochenko a hardline commander, which diminishes hopes of a negotiated solution to the nearly five decades of civil conflict.

His center of operations borders neighboring Venezuela.

A regional intelligence source who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Timochenko was in Venezuela and would risk being tracked by Bogota if he tried to re-establish himself on the Colombian side of the remote border region.

Colombia's attorney general has put out 117 capture orders against Timochenko for kidnapping, murder, rebellion and terrorism while the United States has offered up to $5 million for information leading to his capture.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, Jack Kimball and Helen Murphy; Editing by Eduardo Garcia)

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