Justice Minister says amateur cell planned attacks in Brazil, overseas.
Senabri Silvestre - SANTO DOMINGO, Dom. Rep. (AA) – Brazilian police arrested 10 people Thursday they say were planning a terror attack at the upcoming Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, according to the country’s justice minister.
Alexandre de Moraes said the group was part of a "disorganized" and "amateur cell" that had sworn loyalty to Daesh through the Telegram and WhatsApp mobile networks.
The detainees, all Brazilians, had at least one contact with the militant organization for initiation purposes and one suspect planned to leave the country to make personal contact with a Daesh member but was unable to do so due to a lack of funds.
“We will not wait even a millimeter of time to dissolve any preparatory act. No matter how insignificant it may seem it will have a quick and infallible reaction from the government," Moraes said during a news conference in Rio.
The suspects are part of an organization called Sharia that planned to acquire weapons to commit crimes not only in Brazil but also abroad, Moraes said.
The arrests took place in 10 different states, carried out by about 130 Federal Police that were investigating the group since April.
Detention was ordered after the suspects sent messages indicating they were to begin training in martial arts and shooting, which was interpreted as a real threat of preparation for a possible terrorist attack, Moraes said.
If found guilty, suspects face sentences of between three and 15 years in prison for planning the attack.
The arrests came just days after Moraes acknowledged the possibility of terror attacks during the games, but he downplayed the threat as minimal.
“All of possibility exists throughout the world. There is no chance, but we work as if it existed," Moraes said at the time.
Brazilian authorities will deploy 85,000 police and soldiers for the Olympics that is scheduled to run from Aug. 5 – 21. The number of security personnel is more than twice the figure used at the 2012 London Games.