Brazil's Justice Minister Alexandre de
Moraes attends a press conference on arrests made in at least two states
before the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, in Brasilia July 21,
Brazil have arrested
10 people on Thursday suspected of belonging to a poorly organised group
supporting Islamic State (IS) and discussing acts of terrorism during
next month's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.The
group, described as "absolutely amateur" by Justice Minister Alexandre
Moraes, were all Brazilian citizens and in contact via messaging apps
such as WhatsApp and Telegram. They did not know each other personally,
the minister said.
The arrests came
a week after a truck massacre in France and amid growing fears of a
possible attack on Olympic targets when the first Games to be held in
South America kick off on Aug. 5.
police are monitoring about 100 people for possible links to terrorist
groups, mostly in the porous tri-border region with Paraguay and
Argentina, a presidential aide said on Thursday, requesting anonymity to
Brazilian police and
intelligence services have been cooperating with French, German,
British, Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies regarding the arrests,
the aide said.
Although Brazil has
no history of conflict with known militant groups, Moraes said the Games
had made the Latin American country a more likely target, particularly
because of participation by countries fighting IS.
was the first operation against a supposed terrorist cell in Brazil,"
he said. "Brazil was not part of the coalition against IS, but because
of the upcoming Olympics and because it will receive many foreigners,
Brazil becomes part of the target."
The local Olympic organising committee, Rio 2016, referred requests for comment to the federal government.
has planned an extensive security detail during the Olympics. It will
deploy about 85,000 soldiers, police and other security personnel, more
than twice as many in place for the London Olympics in 2012.
Brazil is also
coordinating closely with partner countries and will operate a joint
security centre where representatives from more than 100 countries are
expected to help share intelligence and monitor the event.
Moraes said the individuals detained on Thursday were being monitored because they had accessed websites linked to IS.
group did not have direct contact with IS, though some members had made
"pro forma" declarations of allegiance to the militant Islamist group
via social media, the minister said. He did not elaborate.
participated in an online group denominated 'the defenders of Sharia'
and were planning to acquire weapons to commit crimes in Brazil and even
overseas," Moraes told a news conference.
group had "no preparation at all" and was a "disorganized cell," he
said, adding that authorities decided to intervene when the group
started planning actions including martial-arts training and the
purchase of firearms.
He said a
member of the group had contacted a clandestine weapons site in
neighbouring Paraguay that sells AK-47 assault rifles, but there was no
evidence they acquired any weapons. Two people will be brought in for
questioning, in addition to the 10 already detained, he added.
President Michel Temer called an emergency cabinet meeting following
the arrests, the first under Brazil's tough new anti-terrorism law
approved this year.
The minister said
the group's leader was based in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba,
with others spread across nine Brazilian states.
court in the state of Parana, where Curitiba is based, said there were
indications that the group was planning to use weapons and guerrilla
tactics to achieve its aim.
intelligence agency said on Tuesday it was investigating all threats to
the Rio Olympics, after a presumed Brazilian Islamist group pledged
allegiance to IS.
Intelligence Group, a U.S. company that monitors the internet, reported
the previously unknown group calling itself "Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil"
said on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday that it followed IS leader
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and had promoted IS propaganda in Arabic, English
It is unclear what relation those detained on Thursday may have with that group.
Wednesday, SITE said alleged Islamist militants are giving advice for
lone actors to carry out attacks during the Games, including the use of
toy drones. The messages are being sent via the mobile messaging system
Telegram, SITE said.
week's attack in Nice, France, Brazilian authorities said they would
step up security measures for the Games by adding further roadblocks and
cordons and frisking more visitors in Rio de Janeiro.
'Amateur' group accused of Olympics terror plot arrested in Brazil
Reviewed by Sunday Owowo