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ISIS Eyes Rio’s Olympics | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A passenger waits as Brazilian Air force soldiers patrol the Tom Jobim International airport ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 19, 2016. Reuters

Washington-The U.S. State Department confirmed on Tuesday that it has been providing security and intelligence assistance to the Brazilian government to help it confront any threat to the Olympic Games that are set to open in Rio de Janeiro this week.

The revelation came after ISIS released videos on terrorist websites in Portuguese, Brazil’s official language, threatening “jihadist” attacks during the games.

The New York Times said on Tuesday that “Brazil’s government is working closely with American law enforcement and intelligence services to identify threats and thwart potential disasters at the Games.”

American officials have been training Brazilian antiterrorism units on attacks. They are helping to identify soft targets like restaurants, night clubs and shopping malls that are away from well-guarded Olympic sites, it said.

“The Americans are playing a key role in homing in on areas that we need to examine,” said Rafael Brum Miron, a prosecutor in the southern city of Curitiba.

“I don’t know how the FBI got their intelligence, but it turned out to be a very valuable lead,” Miron told the newspaper.

Last week, Brazilian officials announced a new arrest on terrorism charges, saying that Chaer Kalaun, a Brazilian of Lebanese descent, living in Rio de Janeiro state had sworn allegiance to ISIS and had been in Syria.

Brazilian media said that Kalaun, 28, had visited Lebanon in 2013 and 2014 during the World Cup.

Brazil police had arrested him several times for unlawful acts and for the possession of an unregistered gun.
The man’s lawyer, Edson Ferreira, said the allegations lacked substance.

“There’s nothing more than suspicions that he put posts on Facebook,” the lawyer told Agence France Presse.
“He did not pledge allegiance, he was not recruiting, or bringing people or collaborating or encouraging any projects of ISIS,” he said.

Ferreira said his client lived in Lebanon when he was an adolescent.

Also last week, the website of the French parliament announced that the French delegation at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was a possible target for attacks plotted by ISIS.

General Christophe Gomart, who runs the military intelligence directorate (DRM), is closely monitoring the movement of seven Frenchmen and foreigners who had returned to France from Yemen via Djibouti, it said.

Gomart is also monitoring a foreigner present in Libya who had been plotting to travel to France to carry out terrorist attacks, it added.

Voice of America reported on Monday that security officials in Rio de Janeiro have intensified measures all over the country.

The officials are also coordinating with governments to stop possible attacks by armed groups or certain individuals, it said.