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

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 - Brazil

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 July 2017
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 - Brazil, 19 July 2017, 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.

Overview: Counterterrorism cooperation between Brazil and the United States was strong, with increased information sharing in 2016. The Brazilian government passed legislation criminalizing terrorism and terrorist financing and dramatically increased both interagency and international cooperation on counterterrorism issues in 2016. In repeated public statements in advance of the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian officials candidly assessed the potential threat posed by a high-profile gathering of foreigners and prepared for the possibility of a lone offender/self-radicalized individual or other terrorist threat at the Olympics. The Brazilian government deployed an interagency strategy on counterterrorism, integrated counterterrorism command centers which included international partners, and launched a public awareness campaign, "See, Inform, Save," to encourage citizens to be alert to potential terrorist or security threats. No terrorist incident occurred at the Olympic Games. Commentators noted the concerted Brazilian effort to improve counterterrorism cooperation as a potential lasting legacy of the Games.

The Brazilian Federal Police (DPF) – Brazil's lead counterterrorism agency – worked closely with the United States and other nations' law enforcement entities to assess and mitigate potential terrorist threats, especially leading up to the Olympics. The Brazilian government continued to support counterterrorism activities, which included third-country technical assistance for controlling sensitive technologies, assessing and mitigating potential terrorist threats in advance of major events, and investigating fraudulent travel documents.

In 2016, press reports indicated the new online presence of a Portuguese-speaking ISIS recruiter (Ismail Abdul Jabbar Al Brazili – "The Brazilian") and potential Brazilian sympathizers.

As a result of the deepest economic recession in Brazil's modern history and a fiscal short-fall, there were austerity cuts across the government, including at the law enforcement agencies that address counterterrorism and rule of law.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: On March 16, Brazil's president signed Law #13.260, criminalizing terrorism and terrorist financing, including specific provisions addressing foreign terrorist fighters. The law imposed penalties of up to 12 to 30 years' imprisonment for terrorism and 15 to 30 years for terrorist financing – in addition to any other applicable charges. The law also criminalized preparatory acts that could lead to a terrorist attack. This law includes penalties for those who recruit individuals to another country with the purpose of practicing acts of terrorism, as well as those who provide or receive such training in another country, in line with UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2178 (2014) on foreign terrorist fighters.

The Law joined companion legislation (Law #13.170, signed October 16, 2015) to facilitate the freezing of assets, giving Brazil a comprehensive legal counterterrorism framework for the first time. Together, the two laws closed a longstanding legal gap in Brazil that had hindered counterterrorism investigations and prosecutions.

Law #13.260 was used for the first time on July 21, two weeks ahead of the start of the Olympic Games. As part of "Operation Hashtag," Brazilian Federal Police arrested 12 Brazilian citizens under suspicion of preparatory acts for an intended terrorist attack. Since then, charges have been filed against eight individuals, with trials pending at year's end.

In November, Brazil's president established a permanent federal interagency committee on border security issues, as part of a stated objective by the administration to prioritize the issue.

Prior to the Olympics, Brazil instituted an interagency structure on counterterrorism strategy, led jointly by the Ministry of Justice and Citizenship, the Institutional Security Cabinet, and the Ministry of Defense. Brazil's Ministry of External Affairs leads on counterterrorism policy at international fora. This strategic planning led to the establishment of counterterrorism protocols for a wide range of potential scenarios, with a particular focus on soft targets.

Operationally, multiple Brazilian law enforcement agencies have counterterrorism responsibilities. The Brazilian Federal Police's Anti-Terrorism Division – which reports to the Ministry of Justice and Citizenship – is the lead counterterrorism agency, responsible for investigating any terrorist-related threats or groups. Response duties are shared by state-level Military Police Departments, through their respective Police Special Operations Battalions; and the state-level Civil Police Departments, through their respective Divisions of Special Operations. The Brazilian Intelligence Agency, which reports to the Institutional Security Cabinet, also monitors terrorist threats. Brazil's military leads on border security issues and on chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological emergency response. Coordination between civilian security and law enforcement agencies, and the Brazilian military, is hindered by inter-agency rivalries, but has made great strides through Brazil's preparations for major events. Interagency coordination would benefit from consolidated and automatic information sharing.

All of Brazil's law enforcement agencies with counterterrorism responsibilities have benefitted from U.S. capacity-building training. In 2016, the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program delivered courses to security and law enforcement personnel covering such topics as countering international and transnational terrorism, preventing attacks on soft targets, and police leaders' role in countering terrorism – all with the goal of enhancing investigative capabilities, building border security capabilities, and supporting Brazil's efforts to prevent and respond to potential terrorist attacks at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Training courses had the added benefit of bringing together disparate agencies, which enhanced Brazilian interagency communication. In addition, the Department of State supported subject matter expert exchanges on emergency incident command response for major disasters and fire and medical rescue training, as well as supporting enhanced operational information sharing.

Brazilian authorities continued to work with other concerned nations – particularly the United States – to counter document fraud. Regional and international joint operations successfully disrupted a number of document vendors and facilitators, as well as related human-smuggling networks. The Department of State provided comprehensive and ongoing counterfeit and fraudulent document recognition training to airline and border police units through its Investigations Program. The Investigations Program continued to train thousands of airline personnel and Brazilian Immigration officials at all of Brazil's international ports of entry. The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have trained Brazilian airline employees on identifying fraudulent documents.

The U.S.-Brazil Container Security Initiative (CSI) in Santos, which began in 2005, continued to operate throughout 2016. CSI promotes container security by co-locating CBP personnel overseas with Brazilian customs administrators, to target, detect, and inspect high-risk cargo while facilitating the movement of legitimate trade. CBP's International Affairs and Field Operations Offices conducted joint workshops with Brazil to bolster supply chain security and port security. Similarly, the National Civil Aviation Agency, DPF, and Brazilian Customs continued to work with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to make modifications to Brazil's National Cargo Security Program to gain TSA recognition of commensurability for cargo security procedures, training, and operations at Brazil's international airports.

Brazil shares vast international borders with 10 different countries. Many of its borders – especially those with Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela – are porous. Irregular migration, especially by aliens from areas with a potential nexus to terrorism, is a growing problem, with Brazil often serving as a transit country.

Brazilian states maintained individual criminal records databases, and information sharing between the states is unwieldy. Biographic information is collected from foreign visitors, although biometric information is not. A 2013 law requires the collection of passenger name record data, and it is being gradually implemented. Brazil maintains its own watchlist, but it is not fully digitized and is not widely shared across all the relevant screening authorities. Brazil collaborates with other nations and INTERPOL on information sharing. On July 18, Brazilian airports began applying international security measures for inspection of passengers and hand luggage on domestic flights.

The Brazilian Army continued to implement an Integrated Border Monitoring System to monitor the country's borders using a combination of soldiers, cameras, sensors, and satellites. The strategic initiative is underway in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, as a preliminary pilot project, with intention to cover the entire Brazilian border by 2021.

Brazil's law enforcement, security officials, and justice system faced resource constraints when enforcing immigration law, supervising airport security and screening, and monitoring Brazil's borders.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Brazil is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a FATF-style regional body. Its financial intelligence unit, the Council for Financial Activities Control (COAF), is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. COAF is a largely independent entity within the Finance Ministry and is responsible for monitoring domestic financial operations, identifying possible funding sources for terrorist groups, and implementing the UN Security Council ISIL (Da'esh) and al-Qa'ida sanctions regime.

Brazil criminalized terrorist financing via Law #13.260, signed March 16, 2016. Law #13.170, signed October 16, 2015, provided procedures for freezing assets relating to UN Security Council resolutions and for information provided through bilateral cooperation. Brazil's laws and regulations still do not fully comply with FATF standards, however.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Brazil consistently issued statements of condemnation against major acts of international terrorism in 2016. The DPF Anti-Terrorism Division takes the lead on addressing threats of radicalization to violence and countering violent extremism.

International and Regional Cooperation: Brazil participates in regional counterterrorism fora, including the Organization of American States and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism; the Union of South American Nations; and the working group on terrorism and sub-working group on financial issues in the Southern Common Market. In addition, it participated in the 2016 establishment of BRICS (a grouping of emerging economies that includes Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa) Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism.

Brazil worked with a range of international law enforcement partners in its security plan for the 2016 Summer Olympics, through two Centers for International Police Cooperation (CCPI) and an Integrated Antiterrorism Center (CIANT). The CCPI included three foreign law enforcement officials for each of the 55 invited countries. CIANT also included representatives from invited countries.

The Brazilian government continued to invest in border and law enforcement infrastructure and has undertaken initiatives with its neighboring countries to control the flow of goods – legal and illegal – through the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.

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