ABU DHABI, 23rd July 2016 (WAM) – The English language daily ‘Gulf Today’ opened its editorial today by saying it seems to be a beleaguered Brazil that’s greeting the Rio Olympics.
On the eve of hosting the world’s largest sporting event, Rio de Janeiro’s decade-long drive to stem violence in hundreds of slums appears to be cutting a sorry figure. Murders rose sharply in the first half of 2016. Shootouts erupt daily.
Police, in turn, are increasingly under attack: 61 have been killed in Rio since January, the majority while off duty.
The threat of terrorism is not far behind. The arrest of ten people in Brazil for plotting a huge attack at the Rio Olympics shows that terrorism knows no boundaries or people.
Brazilian Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes has said all the suspects are from Brazil and one is a minor.
The group, described as “absolutely amateur” by the minister, were in contact via internet messaging groups.
The detainees are suspected of pledging allegiance to Daesh through social media apps and discussing the use of weapons to carry out an attack.
Two more suspects are said to be on the loose just two weeks before the Olympics begin on 5 August.
The group is not thought to be directly linked to Daesh but is reported to have tried to make contact with the extremist organisation.
Terrorist attacks have increased after the Bastille Day attack in Nice. On Tuesday, a Brazilian jihadist group, not yet confirmed to be the same group that has been arrested, became the first in South America to pledge loyalty to Daesh.
Though Brazil has no history of conflict with known militant groups, the Games have made the Latin American country a more likely target, particularly because of participation by countries fighting Daesh.
Brazil has planned massive security arrangements during the Olympics. It will deploy about 85,000 soldiers, police and other security personnel, more than twice as many in place for the London Olympics in 2012.
Daesh has always used acts of mass terrorism directed against civilians as a way of showing its influence grabbing the headlines. It is part of its strategies at all times, but particularly when it is suffering losses and hopes are rising that it is not only retreating but has gone into irreversible decline.
One counterterrorism analyst said Brazil was never a target for terrorism. However, with the Olympics barely days away, the authorities seem to be taking no chances. One only hopes that the Olympics go off without a hitch.