ISIS Threatens to Douse Olympic Flame in Brazil
With politics, water quality, the Zika virus, and a recession already threatening the stability of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, a recent Twitter threat by the Islamic State is forcing intelligence officials to ratchet up the country’s security forces once again.
Received in November after the deadly attacks in Paris, the threat came from French Islamic State member, Maxime Hauchard, said Luiz Alberto Sallaberry, counterterrorism director of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN), at a security event in Rio Wednesday.
The account was subsequently deactivated, but Brazilian intelligence believes her threat–that Brazil was next on ISIS’ list of targets–was anything but arbitrary.
“Brazil is a very pacifist country,” Rio mayor Eduardo Paes said during a press tour of the Olympic Park last week. “We’ve never had any intention to occupy space, to colonize, to attack, to go to war. We aren’t a belligerent country. So we don’t have the hatred of Arab countries, of countries that feel oppressed by the big empires.”
Brazilian officials have long denied the possibility of a terrorist attack in their nation, but with recent attacks in Brussels and Paris being what they were, Sallaberry admits an attack at the Olympics is more likely than ever.
Thus, ABIN is sparing no expense to equip its security forces with new training, and employ the help of intelligence agencies from around the world.
Joseph Ryan, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Security at Pace University, told Homeland Security Today that in the current threat environment, dangerous security incidents are no longer a matter of “if” but of “when.” However, he is optimistic that the games will be safe.
“You can always expect something is going to happen,” said Ryan. “Security teams must be absolutely vigilant.”
500,000 tourists and athletes, including 200,000 Americans, are set to descend upon Rio de Janeiro in August for the spectacle.
Brazil’s security spend is expected to hit $200 million for the event, and plans to utilize 85,000 security agents which is the most agents ever deployed in a single Brazilian city, and more than double the number used in London’s 2012 Olympic Games.
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