Overview: Brazil and the United States maintained strong counterterrorism cooperation in 2019, building on collaborative efforts underway since the 2016 Summer Olympics. The Brazilian Federal Police (PF), Brazil’s lead counterterrorism agency, worked closely with the United States and other nations’ law enforcement entities to assess and mitigate potential terrorist threats. The Brazilian government continued to support CT activities, which included third-country technical assistance for controlling sensitive technologies and investigating fraudulent travel documents.
2019 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist attacks reported in Brazil in 2019.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no major changes to counterterrorism legislation in 2019.
In January, President Jair Bolsonaro combined the Ministries of Justice and of Public Security, with PF under the authority of the new super ministry.
In August, Brazil promulgated into law the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, to which it became a signatory on September 14, 2005.
The FBI, in coordination with PF, issued a notice in August seeking information about Mohamed Ahmed Elsayed Ahmed Ibrahim, an Egyptian suspected al-Qa’ida operative and facilitator living in Brazil. The public notice – the first of its kind for the region – stated that Ibrahim was being sought for questioning for his alleged involvement in plotting attacks against the United States and its interests. The investigation is ongoing.
There were no new arrests or convictions related to 2016’s Operation Hashtag, which dismantled a loose, online, pro-ISIS network prior to the 2016 Olympics, or Operation Atila, which began in 2017 to investigate the use of mobile communication applications to promote terrorist groups. There were no new arrests or convictions under Operation Bravata, launched by PF in 2018 to combat racist and terrorist threats made online.
Brazilian authorities continued to work with other concerned nations – particularly the United States – to counter document fraud. Regional and international joint operations successfully disrupted numerous document vendors and facilitators, as well as related human smuggling networks.
During President Bolsonaro’s March visit to Washington, DC, PF agreed to send its first permanent liaison officer to CBP’s National Targeting Center to exchange real-time information on persons of interest traveling through Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) – the busiest airport in South America. CBP continued the pilot phase of the Joint Security Program (JSP) in GRU with the goal of identifying high-risk air travelers and contraband arriving to and departing from Brazil. JSP officers work side-by-side with Brazilian law enforcement and border control counterparts to identify travelers with links to terrorism and narcotics, weapons, currency, or alien smuggling. Due to fiscal restraints, the PF has yet to assign full-time, permanent staff to the JSP.
In March, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the FBI completed an information sharing arrangement that creates a framework for Brazil to adopt a U.S.-standard biometrics collection system. The joint biometrics program’s focus is to counter identity fraud-based travel in GRU and in the TBA of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Brazil is a member of the FATF and GAFILAT. Its FIU, the Council for Financial Activities Control (COAF), is a member of the Egmont Group. Brazil made progress mitigating the shortcomings identified in its third-round FATF mutual evaluation report from 2010, and it continued to address the remaining deficiencies ahead of its mutual evaluation scheduled for 2021.
In February, Brazil’s Congress passed a Countering Financing of Terrorism bill, which President Bolsonaro signed into law in June. The law enables Brazilian authorities to designate terrorists and terrorism financiers domestically and allows for the immediate freezing of assets of terrorism financiers designated domestically, as well as under UN Security Council resolutions. The law also updates legislation used to combat criminals and corporations engaged in money laundering, bringing Brazil’s legislative framework more in line with international standards.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Brazilian Congress and various government agencies, including PF and Ministry of Foreign Relations, organized or participated in conferences addressing international terrorism, with a particular emphasis on countering “online radicalization and preventing the use of the internet for terrorist purposes.”
International and Regional Cooperation: Brazil participated in regional counterterrorism fora, including the OAS Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism, and the Southern Common Market’s working group on terrorism and sub-working group on financial issues. Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay coordinated law enforcement efforts in the TBA by means of their Trilateral Tri-Border Area Command.
Brazil is a member of the RSM.