Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Brazil

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Publication Date 30 April 2009
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Brazil, 30 April 2009, available at: [accessed 21 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Brazilian government continued to be a cooperative partner in countering terrorism, including investigating potential terrorism financing, document forgery networks, and other illicit activity. Operationally, elements of the Brazilian Government responsible for combating terrorism, such as the Federal Police, Customs, and the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, worked effectively with their U.S. counterparts and diligently pursued investigative leads provided by U.S. intelligence, law enforcement, and financial agencies regarding terrorist suspects.

Brazil's intelligence and law enforcement services were concerned that terrorists could exploit Brazilian territory to support and facilitate terrorist attacks, whether domestically or abroad, and have focused their efforts in the areas of Sao Paulo; the tri-border areas of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay; Brazil, Peru, and Colombia; and the Colombian and Venezuelan borders. Brazil's recognition of the potential threat from terrorism prompted a reform of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) that raised the profile of the issue by upgrading the counterterrorism division to the department level. ABIN hosted a multilateral conference on counterterrorism involving the security services of several South American countries. Together with the United Nations Organization for Crime and Drugs, ABIN co-hosted an international conference on terrorist financing. Brazil participated in international counterterrorism forums such as the 3+1 Mechanism on Security in the Tri-Border Area, the Working Group on Terrorism of the Common Market of the South (Mercosul), and the Sub-working Group on Financial Issues, which discusses terrorist financing and money laundering among the Mercosul countries.

Bilaterally, the USG provided a variety of training courses throughout Brazil in counterterrorism, combating money laundering, detection of travel document fraud, container security, and international organized crime. Brazil and the United States began exchanging information on critical infrastructure protection issues.

Although Brazil has no official list of terrorist groups and does not recognize the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) as a terrorist organization, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been critical of the FARC's use of violence and has publicly called on the group to desist in the armed struggle against the Colombian government. President Lula also signaled a renewed commitment to cooperate with the Colombian government that could help curtail the FARC's activities along Brazil's border. In July, Lula and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe signed bilateral accords to cooperate on combating the illicit trafficking of weapons and munitions; to enhance defense cooperation; and, together with Peru, to combat the trafficking of drugs, weapons, and munitions by increasing intelligence sharing and joint patrolling of border riverways.

Brazil was capable of monitoring domestic financial operations and effectively utilized its financial intelligence unit, the Financial Activities Oversight Council (COAF), to identify possible funding sources for terrorist groups. Through the COAF, Brazil has carried out name checks for persons and entities on the UNSCR 1267 list, but has so far not found any assets, accounts, or property in the names of persons or entities on the UNSCR 1267.

Brazil also continued to undertake steps to enhance its capabilities to combat money laundering. Since 2003, Brazil has established fifteen specialized money-laundering courts, including two in São Paulo, with each court headed by a judge who received specialized training in national money laundering legislation. In 2008, the United States and Brazil established a working group with money laundering judges to share best practices and training needs.

In 2006, Brazil adopted a national anti-money laundering strategy goal building on the success of the specialized courts by creating complementary specialized federal police financial crimes units in the same jurisdictions. In 2008, the Federal Police established such units in the Federal District (Brasilia), and the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. In addition, the Ministry of Justice funded the creation of technology centers to combat money laundering in the Federal District and Rio de Janeiro, the latter of which received two such centers, one embedded with the Public Ministry and one with the state Civil Police. In 2008, the Ministry signed accords to establish additional centers in Bahia, Goiás, and Rio Grande do Sul.

The Brazilian government's counterterrorism strategy consisted of deterring terrorists from using Brazilian territory to facilitate attacks or raise funds by aggressively monitoring and suppressing transnational criminal activities that could support terrorist actions. It accomplished this through effective actions between its law enforcement entities and cooperation with the United States and other partners in the region.

Brazil and the United States continued to work together through the Container Security Initiative in Santos to promote secure containerized cargo to the United States and through the establishment of a Trade Transparency Unit to detect money laundering through trade transactions.

The Brazilian government achieved visible results from recent investments in border and law enforcement infrastructure that were executed with a view to gradually control the flow of goods, both legal and illegal, through the Tri-border Area (TBA). Brazilian Customs (Receita Federal) continued to take effective action to suppress the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and contraband goods along the border with Paraguay. According to Receita Federal, the agency interdicted more than $76 million in smuggled goods, including drugs, weapons, and munitions, an increase of eight percent from 2007. Because of the effective crackdown on the Friendship Bridge, most smuggling operations took place through the Paraná River and Lago de Itaipú and some have migrated to other sections of the border such as the towns of Guaíra and Ponta Porã. The Federal Police had Special Maritime Police Units in both Foz do Iguaçu and Guaíra that aggressively patrolled the maritime border areas.

The Brazilian government's failure to strengthen its legal counterterrorism framework significantly undermined its overall commitment to combating terrorism and the illicit activities that could be used to facilitate terrorism. Two key counterterrorism-related legislative initiatives continued to languish. A counterterrorism bill that would have established the crime of terrorism and other associated crimes was drafted but shelved before its introduction in Congress, and the Brazilian Congress had not approved a long-delayed anti-money laundering bill at year's end. The latter bill would have facilitated greater law enforcement access to financial and banking records during investigations, criminalized illicit enrichment, allowed administrative freezing of assets, and facilitated prosecutions of money laundering cases by amending the legal definition of money laundering, making it an autonomous offense.

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