Cooperating with the U.S. Brazil beefs up counter-terror forces after police arrested an ‘amateur’ cell of 12 terrorists planning an attack.
Brazil has enhanced its security cooperation on counter-terrorism with the United States ahead of the Olympic Games, which begin in Rio de Janeiro Friday, August 5.
Brazilian police have been training alongside the FBI and specialized American counter-terrorism units in order to ensure the country is prepared for the security challenges of the games. Brazil has so far not suffered any major terrorist threat and, as a consequence,its security forces were underprepared for the scale of the Olympics, which jihadist groups have threatened to attack.
Dozens of Brazilian officials flew to the United States to train with American forces and to observe how the U.S. guards major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, according to the New York Times.
In late July, Brazilian counter-terror police arrested a cell of 12 would-be terrorists who were plotting to mount an attack against the games, as reported by CNN. Ten were reportedly arrested initially followed by two later arrests.
Police were able to catch the cell by monitoring communications on the messaging service WhatsApp. The group called itself the “Defenders of the Shariah.”
“It was an amateur cell without any planned preparation,” Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes said of the cell.
The group reportedly attempted to purchase weapons online, something Moraes said no professional group would do and had not got beyond the early planning stage when they were arrested.
The arrests followed the discovery of an Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) affiliated group in Brazil also in July, which was disseminating ISIS propaganda using the encrypted messaging service Telegram.
One such message distributed by the group read, “Lone Wolf from anywhere in the world can move to Brazil now. Visas and tickets and travel to Brazil will be very easy to get inshallah.”
Another message read, “If the French police cannot stop attacks on its territory, training given to the Brazilian police will not do anything.”