Police in Brazil have arrested a group of people who were allegedly preparing to carry out terrorist attacks on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS) during next month’s Summer Olympics in the South American country.
A total of 10 suspects were arrested during Thursday’s anti-terror operations across 10 states, but arrest warrants have also been issued for 2 other people who are not yet in custody. The group, which includes a minor, was allegedly recruited through the internet and pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Brazilian Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes, speaking at a press conference, said the plans to carry out an attack were in the preparatory stage and no specific targets had been identified. The group allegedly sought to buy a number of weapons, including machine guns from Paraguay.
“It was an amateur cell – disorganized – but no security agency can ignore facts of this nature, which is why they were arrested,” Moraes said. The suspects communicated through internet groups, WhatsApp and Telegram, he added.
Among the messages that were intercepted by investigators, members of the group allegedly celebrated last month’s shooting attack on the gay nightclub in the U.S. state of Florida. The attack, which was linked to the Islamic State group, left 49 people dead in the country’s worst ever mass shooting.
The 2016 Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin on August 5 and will take place in Rio de Janeiro, the host city, as well as at venues in the cities of São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Brasília, and Manaus. Security is already tight amid terrorism concerns.
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