Federal police in Brazil detained two suspects with links to Hezbollah who were allegedly planning attacks against Jewish targets in the Latin American country, Brazilian media reported on Wednesday.
The suspects are believed to have plotted attacks on Jewish institutions across Brazil, including synagogues. During the police sweep, two men were arrested on suspicion of recruiting for terrorist groups in Brazil. The operation entailed coordinated raids on 11 targets spanning the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, as well as the capital city of Brasília.
The police have indicated that the recruiters, as well as those recruited into the terrorist cells, may face sentences of up to 15 years in prison. According to investigators, Hezbollah funded the suspects and recruited them to orchestrate terror attacks in Brazil.
Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency revealed that it was also involved in the operation. "Security forces in Brazil, together with the Mossad and its partners in the Israeli security community, as well as other international security and law enforcement agencies, thwarted an attack in Brazil that Hezbollah, under the direction and funding of Iran, was planning to carry out," a statement from the Prime Minister's Office on behalf of Mossad read.
Such acknowledgment is unusual for the intelligence agency during wartime. However, given that the terrorist plot had already been publicized in Brazil, the Mossad opted to verify the reports.
Reports have long emerged of individuals in South America raising funds for Hezbollah. In 2018, the U.S. identified Hezbollah operative Assad Ahmad Barakat as a significant fundraiser for the group and was apprehended in Brazil following an arrest warrant from Paraguay for suspected identity theft.
In 2014, the police pointed to a link between Hezbollah and the São Paulo-based PCC cartel, a group previously recognized by the U.S. government as a leading criminal organization in Brazil and a major global threat.
According to Brazilian police, Hezbollah facilitated the PCC's acquisition of weapons by agreeing to safeguard inmates of Lebanese descent in Brazilian prisons. Furthermore, they stated that Hezbollah-affiliated operatives helped the PCC distribute explosives stolen by cartel affiliates in Paraguay.
First published: 21:05, 11.08.23