Just weeks ahead of the beginning of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a Brazilian jihadi group has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
According to the extremist monitoring group SITE Intelligence, a group calling itself "Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil" pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on its Telegram channel, which has also promoted Islamic State group propaganda. Telegram is a messaging app that allows users to send encrypted messages and host private channels. This would be the first time an organized South American group affiliated itself with the terrorist group, reported the Washington Post. While there have been a slew of recent terrorist attacks apparently inspired by ISIS, the group has rapidly lost territory in Iraq and Syria.
Security has been a major concern in the lead up to the Olympics, set to begin in early August. The city initially planned to have 85,000 police, army and security personnel on hand for the games. After the attacks in Nice, France last week, officials ramped up security plans. But in the midst of a crippling recession, it has been difficult to even pay police on time or afford simple things like pens. Just last week, France was warned of a planned attack on its Olympic team, the head of French military intelligence said.
Defense Minister Raul Jungmann told reporters Brazil had complied, with the help of the United States and France, a database of some 500,000 people with suspected ties to terrorism.
"Anyone wanting to watch the Olympic Games will have to go through a barrier where they identify themselves and their details are checked," he said via the Post. "This person will then pass through a second barrier where everything they are bringing with them will be scanned."
Some 500,000 tourists are expected to show up in Brazil for the games, a sprawling event that can be a logistical nightmare.