HomeNewsBriefBrazil Official Sees Crime as Bigger Olympic Threat Than Terrorism
BRIEF

Brazil Official Sees Crime as Bigger Olympic Threat Than Terrorism

BRAZIL / 20 JUL 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

A top Brazilian official regards crime a greater risk to the upcoming Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro than terrorism, a rational concern given Rio's persistent struggles curbing violent criminal groups and improving citizen security.

In an interview with Folha de São Paulo, Brazilian Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes said he does not consider terrorism the top security threat to the Rio Olympics. "Crime is a greater concern than terrorism," Moraes asserted.

The minister said Brazilian and international agencies consider the probability of a terrorist attack during the games to be extremely low, but that every anti-terrorism measure is being taken nonetheless.

In addition to terrorism, Moraes told Folha that public security and organized crime are major concerns for Rio, unlike previous Olympic cities such as London. To that end, Moraes said Rio's anti-crime measures and the strengthening of security forces has required greater effort to prepare than counter-terrorism measures.

"Terrorism is more a question of intelligence and training, preparing protocols and protecting airports," Moraes said.

Asked by Folha how Rio's frequent clashes between criminal factions will be prevented from affecting the games, Moraes claimed there would be no problems during the Olympics due to the heavy security presence. "The problem will be before and after" the games, Moraes said.

Regarding the threat of individuals, or "lone wolves," carrying out terrorist acts, Moraes said the risks are close to zero, and that any coordinated group plots would be easier to detect.

Recently, a Brazilian group called Ansar al-Khilafah pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), although some terrorism experts doubt the group actually exists and speculate it may be IS propaganda. Moraes said Brazil is monitoring the situation to avoid any surprises.

InSight Crime Analysis

Following a spate of recent terrorist attacks in France, concern has shifted to the possibility of attacks in Brazil as the Rio Olympic Games near. Set to begin August 5, the Olympics are undoubtedly a tempting target for groups like IS given the high profile, international nature of the event.

Nonetheless, Moraes' emphasis on crime over terrorism reflects a reasonable assessment of the risks presented by both. For one, Brazil has a small Middle Eastern diaspora and Muslim population from which IS could draw sympathizers willing to conduct attacks. Previous concerns over Islamic terrorist groups in Brazil have focused on the tri-border region where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay meet, and where Lebanese group Hezbollah is known to have links. Yet past warnings over the threat posed by Hezbollah in Latin America appear to be exaggerated.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles 

In contrast, the threat posed by crime in Rio is much more immediate and known, and the city's security situation has deteriorated during 2016. Beyond petty crime -- such as muggings and theft -- during the Olympics, Brazilian criminal groups like the Red Command (Comando Vermelho) and First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) pose a much more menacing risk. These criminal networks have thousands of members, are heavily armed, and control large swathes of Brazil's marginalized favela neighborhoods, putting it within their power to significantly disrupt security during the games. For instance, in 2013 the PCC promised a "World Cup of terror" ahead of the 2014 soccer tournament in Brazil if the government failed to meet certain demands. 

To ensure security during the games, Brazil is in the process of deploying about 85,000 police and military personnel in Rio.  

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 21 JAN 2021

President Joe Biden’s policy documents on Latin America tread familiar ground. But the region contains a range of other security…

ARGENTINA / 1 FEB 2022

In 2021, most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a marked increase in murders. Resurgent violence was to…

BRAZIL / 27 MAY 2022

Cocaine seizures have jumped at the Guarulhos International Airport near São Paulo, Brazil, showing that neither COVID-19 nor international law…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…