Brazilian police have arrested 10 members of a group planning to carry out a terror attack on the Olympic games in Rio. According to Brazilian authorities none of the members were officially associated with ISIS but had tried to make contact with the group on several occasions. All of the people taken into custody are Brazilian, police are searching for two more suspects.
Brazil’s Justice Minister, Alexandre Moraes, called the group “absolute amateurs” and called them supporters, or sympathizers, of the terrorist group ISIS. He stated all 10 members currently in police custody were “baptized” into ISIS online but that none had physically traveled to the Middle East to meet with ISIS fighters. The group communicated primarily online and were arrested in 10 different states. The group had declared their loyalty to ISIS but had not been officially accepted and had no contact with the group. Moraes commented on the group, telling reporters:
“Those involved participated in an online group denominated ‘the defenders of Sharia’ and were planning to acquire weapons to commit crimes in Brazil and even overseas,”
One of the members communicated with a weapons dealer in Paraguay via email in an attempt to purchase several AK-47s. No evidence of a deal actually taking place has been discovered. The email was intercepted by Brazilian police. The discovery of the email ultimately led to the group’s arrest. The minister stated the individuals detained were being monitored because they had accessed Web sites linked to IS and were communicating on an app popular among Jihadists.
Moraes stated that, despite the group being “ill-prepared” they should still be considered a legitimate threat. Authorities have seized computers, cellphones, and other electronic equipment but no weapons. Police decided to intervene when the group began to discuss unarmed and firearms training.
No specific group was targeted in the attack and Brazil has no history of conflict with known militant groups. Moraes and other Brazilian officials believe the Olympic games are being targeted and not the country itself.
Brazilian officials have brought in 85,000 police and soldiers to patrol the stadium during the competitions. Fear of terrorist attacks or violence spilling over from the country’s hundreds of nearby slums have caused officials to ramp up security measures.