Brazil is facing a rising terrorist threat from bodies including Islamic State (IS) and other extremist groups ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, defence experts have admitted.
The South American nation has traditionally faced very few terrorist threats in comparison with many other countries, partly for geographical reasons as well as for its longstanding neutrality and multi-culturalism in international affairs.
Most Rio 2016 security fears have consequently been more centred around lower-level assaults and muggings than on wider terrorism.
But the nation’s counterterrorism director of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency Luiz Alberto Sallaberry has warned that recent incidents in other countries is heightening their fears.
This comes after devastating terrorist attacks in cities including Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Jakarta, Tunis and many others, almost always carried out by IS or associate groups.
There have also been a rise in numbers of Brazilian nationals suspected of sympathising with IS militants in recent months, Sallaberry said in a statement reported on by Reuters.
A tweet was also sent last year by a known IS fighter, a Frenchman named Maxime Hauchard, specifically threatening Brazil.
“Brazil, you are our next target,” the tweet said, with the validity of this having been confirmed by Sallaberry.
Measures being taken to defend the country during the Games include intelligence-sharing with foreign security forces and greater training.
Around 80,000 officers will be deployed during the event, plus separate security teams brought in by participating National Olympic Committees.
This compares with a force of around 42,000 officers deployed during London 2012.
It has not been a completely smooth process, however, with Adilson Moreira, head of the National Force for Public Security who was due to play a major role in leading security during the Games, announcing his resignation late last month following a leaked email in which he strongly criticized under-fire Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
- By Nick Butler
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz