RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) — Rio de Janeiro Mayor, Eduardo Paes, said the arrest of 10 people suspected of planning a terrorist attack during the Olympic Games on Thursday (July 21) showed Brazil’s security forces are working effectively.
“I see it in a positive light, it shows that the security forces are working – the suspects, the investigation, intelligence, the arrest of 10 people in Sao Paulo and in Curitiba – this shows that they are working. I accompanied from afar but this boosts my confidence in the security forces and the work being done between Brazilian and international intelligence agencies, the Federal Police. So I think this is good news, it shows we are doing well in terms of security,” Paes told Reuters.
The loosely organised group were all Brazilian citizens and in contact via internet messaging groups such as WhatsApp and Telegram, but did not know each other personally, authorities said.
The group did not have direct contact with IS though some of its members had made “pro forma” declarations of allegiance to the militant Islamist group, the minister said. He did not elaborate.
The Justice Minister said earlier in the day that the leader of the group was based in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba, with others spread in nine Brazilian states.
A 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.
Brazil – a historically pacifist nation – has maintained relatively low risks of terrorist attacks, but security forces have been trained by U.S. and French anti-terrorism units in the run up to the Games.
“These sorts of security issues which are atypical in Brazil and in Rio are those which cause greater concern, because we are not used to it, but I think this shows the good work of the Justice Ministry and the Federal Police are doing,” said Paes.
Brazil’s intelligence agency said on Tuesday it was investigating all threats to the Rio Olympics, which start on Aug. 5, after a presumed Brazilian Islamist group pledged allegiance to IS.
The SITE Intelligence Group 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 and Portuguese.