Police chief preparing for 2014 World Cup threats
The head of the federal police in Sao Paulo is braced for a high
terror threat during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, one of the few
times a top security official has addressed such concerns in the
South American country.
Brazil hasn’t had to deal with a major terrorist attack and
officially dismisses the existence of terrorists within its
borders, but Roberto Troncon Filho told the Folha de S. Paulo
newspaper in an interview published Thursday that the World Cup
will present unique safety challenges to local authorities.
”In Brazil, the (threat) level is very low, but an event like
the World Cup can provide the opportunity for an attack, not
against the Brazilian people, but against an international
delegation,” he was quoted as saying by Folha, Brazil’s largest
In addition to hosting the World Cup, Brazil will be home to the
2016 Rio Olympics.
”In these occasions, the federal police believe that there is a
unique risk and we want to prepare ourselves for a scenario in
which the risk would be fairly elevated,” he said.
Brazil has historically been hesitant to acknowledge the
possibility of terror, and it is yet to adopt any anti-terror laws.
It is among several countries in Latin America to resist such laws
because of memories of state dictatorships that killed or spirited
away thousands of political opponents in the 1970s and 80s.
As the nation prepared to bid for the Olympics, top officials
cited the lack of terrorist threats in the country as an advantage
over its competitors. Then-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said
at the time: ”We don’t have attacks, we don’t have bombs.”
There have been reports and rumors of the presence of al-Qaida
members in Brazil, especially in the so-called Tri-Border region
around the borders with Argentina and Paraguay, a hotbed of
smuggling and contraband. But suspects can only be prosecuted on
charges such as racism, racketeering and inciting criminal
activity, but cannot be deemed a terrorist, according to Brazilian
U.S. officials have been concerned for years that the region
could be a fundraising center for Hezbollah and Hamas, although
there has been no official confirmation that the Islamic extremist
groups have an operational presence in the area.
Brazil does not consider Hezbollah, Hamas or the Armed
Revolutionary Forces of Colombia as terrorist organizations.
The country is home to one of the largest Arab populations
outside the Middle East, with most living in Sao Paulo and in Foz
do Iguacu, near the Tri-border region.
Brazil will be hosting the World Cup for the first time since
1950. The Rio Olympics will be the first in South America.
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