The Brazilian government is preparing to thwart attempts by the Islamic State to recruit young Brazilian citizens to orchestrate “lone wolf” attacks in the Latin American nation, particularly during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.
The Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paolo reports that Brazilian intelligence agencies are gearing up to monitor young people, especially men, who may be enticed by online ISIS propaganda to stage “lone wolf” attacks. While there appears to be little concern that official Islamic State jihadist organizational structure exists in Brazil, the possibility of independent jihadists taking terrorism into their own hands is high on the list of concerns for Brazilian intelligence.
O Estado notes that lone wolves “have better mobility and are capable of orchestrating isolated and improvised attacks in different countries” because they have no official ties to terrorists groups, save their desire to be a part of them. The newspaper adds that, in a report titled “Islamic State: Reflexions for Brazil,” intelligence officials have suggested “internal discussions” regarding how to handle the threat of ISIS recruitment in Latin America.
One major problem for Brazilian officials, according to the paper, is that Brazil has no specific anti-terrorism law that can help with monitoring potential threats. “Without anti-terrorism legislation,” the newspaper notes, “intelligence agencies… are greatly limited in cybernetic interception.”
Brazilian authorities appear most concerned that the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro create an attractive venue for acts of terrorism. While the report notes that “protests and strikes” present the biggest obstacle to staging a successful Olympic games, the potential of jihadist attacks persists, particularly if ISIS officials sense that Brazilian officials are not especially concerned of such a threat. Other South American outlets are echoing the O Estado report, noting that Brazil’s federal government claims at least one meeting has occurred at the highest level in which officials discussed the prevention of terrorism on Brazilian soil.
The Islamic State has released propaganda videos targeted at Latin America and already has a proven presence in the region. Chile appears to particularly be a target for the Sunni jihadist group. In December, a 25-year-old Chilean woman was arrested for using the communication application WhatsApp to recruit young Muslim women to travel to Syria and Iraq and serve as slave brides for the Islamic State. In summer 2014, the Islamic State released a recruitment video featuring jihadist Bastián Vázquez, a Chilean national who moved to Syria to join the Islamic State.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, General John Kelly warned American officials of a similar threat of Islamic State presence in Latin America, suggesting the possibility that Islamic State terrorists could use the already in place human trafficking network in Central America to sneak across the northern Mexican border.