Eight Brazilians suspected of plotting an Islamic State-inspired attack at the Rio Olympics were handed terrorism charges by a Brazil judge on Friday, according to Reuters. The group has been called “amateurs” by Brazilian officials but it’s believed their plans could have greatly disrupted the first Games ever held in South America.
Brazilian officials, acting on a tip from the FBI, tracked down and arrested the men in July, two weeks before the Olympics began. Six others have also been detained but not charged, Reuters reported.
The eight who have been arraigned face charges of promoting a terrorist organization and criminal association, while five of the suspects face charges of “inciting children and adolescents to commit crimes.” One has been charged with recruiting for a terrorist group.
"It wasn't a professional terrorist organization. They were amateurs, but they could have endangered the Olympics and the nation," Brazil justice minister Alexandre de Moraes said reporters.
The group communicated over the internet and Brazilian officials discovered their plans by following their web traffic, specifically finding their visits to ISIS-linked websites — an investigation they were able to conduct under a new anti-terrorism law the country passed earlier this year.
However, the group reportedly had no direct contact with ISIS, the terrorist network that has taken over northern Iraq and parts of Syria for the last five years and has drawn support from around the globe. Brazil officials told Reuters that some of the suspects had declared allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi on social media sites.
When the arrests were made in July, CNN originally reported 12 people were detained under suspicion of planning an attack, but the group hadn’t reached the stage of picking an actual target.
Brazil’s intelligence agency was also monitoring a messaging app called Telegram, on which a jihadi channel called for attacks at the Games and specifically against athletes from Western countries, CNN reported.