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 / 22 APR 2020

Thefts of tests, ventilators and personal protective equipment have shot up across Latin America amid the coronavirus pandemic, threatening lives…

BRAZIL / 4 FEB 2013

Brazil's southern state of Santa Catarina has witnessed over 50 violent attacks during a six-day period, raising new concerns over…

BRAZIL / 23 SEP 2015

“From boardrooms to battlefields and churches to states, why being in charge isn't what it used to be,” reads the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…