Given the choice between an Afghan cave, a shack in Waziristan, or downtown Sana’a, well.. wouldn’t you? Chilling in Brasil, Jihadi-style:
BRASILIA – Al Qaeda operatives are in Brazil planning attacks, raising money and recruiting followers, a leading news magazine reported Saturday, renewing concerns about the nation serving as a hide-out for Islamic militants.
Veja magazine, in its online edition, reported that at least 20 people affiliated with al Qaeda as well as the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah, the Palestinian group Hamas and two other organizations have been hiding out in the South American country.
The magazine said these operatives have been raising money and working to incite attacks abroad. The magazine cited Brazilian police and U.S. government reports, but did not give details on specific targets or operations.
The United States has said Islamic militants have been operating in the border region between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Brazil has denied this, while saying it is aware that some members of Brazil’s Lebanese community legally transferred funds to the Middle East.
There has been a warming of relations between Brazil and the United States since President Dilma Rousseff took office in January. She has sought closer U.S. ties after her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, angered the United States with attempts to mediate over Iran’s nuclear program.
Veja reported that a Lebanese man named Khaled Hussein Ali, who has lived in Brazil since 1998, is an important member of al Qaeda’s propaganda operation and has coordinated extremists in 17 countries.
He was briefly arrested in Brazil in March 2009 after a police investigation that found videos and texts directed at al Qaeda followers. One email found on his computer and sent as spam to email addresses in the United States incites hatred against Jews and blacks, Veja said.
He spent 21 days in prison on charges of racism, inciting crime and gang formation, but was set free because prosecutors did not pursue the charges in court, Veja said.
It has been known for some time that Islamic terrorists – Hamas and Hezbollah in particular – have been in hiding in South America – mainly in Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela and along the tri-state border mentioned in the article above. But AQ operatives in Brazil itself is a significant new development, if this story’s claims are true.
Although, it has to be said, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising.
Under Leftist former President Lula Da Silva, Brazil aligned itself closely with anti-Western forces, such as Iran, the increasingly Islamist Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan and the AK Party and the Non-Aligned Movement (contrary to some reports which claim Brazil was never associated – it was in fact – an observer-member under Da Silva); a motley collection of Islamists, vehemently anti-Western dictatorships and third-world kleptocracies, with its face firmly set against human development and democracy.
Under his auspices, Brazil was also one of the first countries to recognise ‘Palestine’ as a full diplomatic entity.
Encouragingly, under the new presidency of Bulgarian-Brazilian Dilma Roussef, things have begun to move in slightly more encouraging direction as she has sought to thaw relations with the US and other Western countries – but even she is a Da Silva protégé – so it remains to be seen whether any real action will be taken to limit this possible new Islamist front.
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