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Cable reference id: #09BRASILIA1206
“All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.” — “Refus Global“, Paul-Émile Borduas

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Reference id aka Wikileaks id #227899  ? 
SubjectBrazil: Police Publicly Admit Al Qaeda's Presence; Gob Denies Terrorism A Threat
OriginEmbassy Brasilia (Brazil)
Cable timeThu, 1 Oct 2009 15:15 UTC
Referenced by09BRASILIA1216

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Hide header C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 BRASILIA 001206 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR S CT SHARI VILLAROSA AND WHA. E.O. 12958: DECL: 09 29 2019 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, PINR, BR SUBJECT: BRAZIL: POLICE PUBLICLY ADMIT AL QAEDA'S PRESENCE GOB DENIES TERRORISM A THREAT Classified By: Charge d' Affaires, a.i. Lisa Kubiske, reason: 1.4 (b) a nd (d) 1. (U) Summary: The head of the Brazilian Federal Police,s (DPF) intelligence division admitted publicly during a Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, hearing on terrorism July 7 that an individual arrested in April on hate crimes-related charges was in fact linked to al Qaeda (AQ), the first time a Brazilian government official has gone on record admitting this link. The admission followed earlier denials by non-DPF Brazilian government officials responding to press reports that the individual was linked to the terrorist group. During the hearing, Minister Jorge Felix, head of the Office of the Presidency,s Institutional Security Cabinet (a combination DNI, ONDCP, with some NSC-like attributes), stuck to the usual script, despite the admission, and denied there was any evidence that terrorists had or would be interested in establishing a presence in Brazil, even as he asserted that Brazil remained vigilant to the threat. As part of this vigilance, Felix reported during the hearing that GSI had created a new counter-terrorism (CT)-focused entity within its structure as well as an interagency working group to draft a new national security law, which could end up addressing Brazil,s single biggest inadequacy when it comes to its CT efforts: lack of CT legislation. While Felix, the DPF, and members of Congress agreed on the need for CT legislation, there is a lack of will in the GOB to expend the political capital to do push it, as a result of ideological and historical concerns that such legislation might be used against legitimate opposition and social movements. Concerned to maintain Brazil,s position as a racially, ethnically, and religiously harmonious society, the GOB is hesitant to engage in what it thinks might be perceived as provocative foreign and domestic policy. Nonetheless, post believes that the good operational cooperation on CT between our law enforcement agencies enjoy and Brazil,s general commitment to international counterterrorism norms provide a basis to engage the GOB and spur gradual change in Brazil,s mindset. In light of Brazil,s growing global clout, this could pay dividends well beyond Brazil. End summary. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - We have and have had Al Qaeda in Brazil - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2. (SBU) During a 7 July hearing of the Chamber of Deputies Organized Crime and Public Security Committee, Daniel Lorenz de Azevedo, head of the DPF,s intelligence division publicly admitted for the first time that the DPF believed the individual arrested on April 26 for hate crimes in Sao Paulo, Khaled Hussein Ali was, in fact, believed by the DPF to be closely linked to al Qaeda. As global head of the Jihad Media Battalion, Lorenz noted during the hearing that Ali had performed duties for the terrorist group, from propaganda to logistics, recruitment, and other activities. (Note: In late May, the press started reporting on the 26 April arrest of the then unidentified Ali,s links to AQ, which were followed by quick statements by the prosecutor denying that the individual had any ties to terrorism. That same week, during a meeting with CODEL Thompson, General Felix categorically denied the terrorism and AQ connection, even as he noted that it was a DPF matter. End note.) 3. (U) Lorenz further stated that Ali was not the first or only AQ-linked individual to have lived in or transited through Brazil. He mentioned Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,s trip to Foz de Iguacu in 1995 (subject of a cover story in Veja magazine several years ago). He further noted that the DPF has monitored several other "extremists" that have transited through Brazil or had taken up residence in the country. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - General Felix: We will never admit anything - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4. (U) During the hearing, Felix testified that it was the government,s belief that terrorists could potentially use Brazilian territory for transit, to exploit its resources, or for safehaven. He further added that, even as Brazil has maintained an aggressive posture to prevent such activity BRASILIA 00001206 002 OF 005 from taking place, "we haven,t seen any confirmation that such activity has ever taken place, even if the media claims otherwise." 5. (U) Faced with questions from Members of Congress who were keying off of Lorenz testimony, Felix added that Brazil,s public stance regarding the presence of terrorism is part of a deliberate strategy on the part of GSI and an assessment of what is in Brazil,s best long-term interest. Felix noted that over the years he has had the opportunity to meet with officials from various countries at all levels, including those who affirm that there may be terrorists in Foz de Iguacu and Sao Paulo, and to date none of these countries that make these statements, going back to the AMIA bombing, have ever provided Brazil with evidence that this is the case. He further added, with emphasis, that "even if a problem were to appear, we won,t admit that the problem exists." According to Felix, this "denialism" is a posture that he believes will "protect" Brazil. He observed that modifying this language could provoke actions by unwelcome elements and could set back a policy that, while it repudiates terrorism, seeks to avoid inviting or importing threats. - - - - - - - - - - Yet, Threats Abound - - - - - - - - - - 6. (U) Felix characterized the theoretical risks Brazil faces as pretty low. He added that, "because of our external policy, our domestic characteristics, our international projection, our image of a positive peaceful country with various ethnicities and religions interacting peacefully in harmony" there is little risk of attacks against Brazil. At the same time, Felix recognized that the risks are not the same when discussing foreign structures within Brazil. The situation in those cases is different, particularly when it comes to ideological or religious terrorism, which does not respect frontiers. He cited Argentina,s experience, which suffered two attacks in the 1990,s against its Jewish community. It shows, according to Felix, that even in a country that faces reduced risks against its own interests, it can suffer attacks against foreign interests in that country. Felix also added that, because of Brazil,s vast territory and porous borders, it can be difficult to monitor the movement or activities of terrorists within Brazilian territory. 7. (U) Lorenz disagreed with Felix,s characterization of the level of risk Brazil faces. He noted that the DPF has followed terrorism since 1995, a year after the AMIA bombing. In that time, DPF has seen several phases in the evolution of the terrorist threat in Brazil. First, DPF began with the notion that terrorists could be transiting or hiding in Brazil, but that there was no threat of attacks in Brazil. Lorenz used KSM,s travel through Foz de Iguacu in December of 1995 to illustrate this phase. Then the DPF started noticing that some of those who were transiting or hiding were beginning to establish residency in Brazil by marrying Brazilian women and adopting Brazilian children. In a third stage, DPF began seeing that some Brazilians began to be captivated by extremist ideology and the idea of martyrdom. Some Brazilians have left Brazil for what the DPF believes is extremist religious instruction in Iran and other places in the Middle East. Finally, the DPF has begun to see some of those foreigners that achieved permanent residency start preparations for acts outside the country and helping terrorist groups with recruitment, training, logistics support, and reconnaissance for terrorist actions not in Brazil. This last stage, added Lorenz, was what the DPF saw in Ali,s case. He added that the DPF,s perception is that things are evolving and that in this continuing evolution of activity, which still remains outwardly focused, could perhaps evolve in a different direction eventually. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Consensus on one thing: TBA not a problem - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - BRASILIA 00001206 003 OF 005 8. (U) While offering differing views in some areas, both Lorenz and Felix agreed that the Triborder Area (TBA) is not a problem anymore. According to Lorenz, the question of financing for groups for Islamic groups out of the TBA is a non-issue, adding that "we have found that Zakat is a normal thing." He criticized attacks on Brazil from foreign countries, including the United States, that accuse Brazil of ignoring this fundraising, especially after the DPF has found that most of the money that goes from the TBA passes through the United States on its way to Lebanon. "We have told the Americans, I can guarantee that this money that goes to Lebanon passes through the United States, I can prove it"if you think this money is for terrorism, why won,t you stop it yourselves," adding, we can give you the names and bank accounts.," Lorenz continued, "people who know TBA in the 1990s, like I did, know that it is not now what it once was. It is now the Chinese criminal networks who are the most active there, not the Arabs." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lack of Legislation a Problem - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 9. (U) Federal Deputy Raul Jungmann (PPS, Socialist People's Party, opposition of Pernambuco) questioned Felix on Brazil,s failure to pass terrorism legislation. He told the story of talking to an advisor to Minister of Justice Tarso Genro who told Jungmann that passing anti-terrorism legislation could actually invite terrorism into Brazil. He finally asked Felix if Brazil could condemn terrorism in its constitution and various other laws, sign all 13 international conventions against terrorism, have anti-terrorism divisions in the DPF and ABIN, why couldn,t it have it legislation dealing with terrorism Without directly answering Jungmann, both Felix and Lorenz acknowledged that the lack of terrorism legislation is a limitation for Brazil. The DPF acts, noted Lorenz, via connected crimes. Lorenz stated that the DPF looks to see if terrorists are committing crimes related to terrorism, such as preparatory acts. For example, he noted, a terrorist could enter the country to commit a terrorist act and the DPF would look at whether he used fraudulent documents or had immigration violations if he were to use a car bomb, they would see if he stole a car. In some cases, he added, the DPF has already used this approach to neutralize people with Islamic extremist leanings. 10. (U) In the case of Ali, he used the LAN house (or cybercafe) he ran to lead and coordinate the activities of Jihad Media Battalion. At the beginning, noted Lorenz, he used it for to perform propaganda on behalf of AQ,s cause. Later it turned ito a space for recruitment, support, training, communications, operational security, and battle orers for actions outside Brazil. The DPF started te investigation after the FBI passed them an IP ddress used by a person in Brazil. But, Lorenz dded, we arrested him not because of these activities, and not because of the battle orders to case places for actions outside Brazil, but through technical surveillance to decipher and break encryption his messages, which allowed us to find instances of hate crime, such as anti-Semitism and preaching hate against West. Ali was not just engaging in hate crimes, Lorenz hastened to add, but that was enough to charge him for a crime, even if it was a lesser crime with low penalties. - - - - - - - - - - - - Building new structures - - - - - - - - - - - - 11. (U) Responding to Congressional questions of what measures Brazil has taken to prevent terrorist activities in Brazil, Felix responded that in addition to signing all 13 UN and OAS conventions on the topic, which require actions by GOB, Brazil has cooperative relations with police and intelligence units with many countries. In addition, he added, Brazil has been active in monitoring entry points and has progressively improved capabilities in this area. Brazil has also focused on of military, federal police, and state police forces focused on combating terrorism. Brazil, BRASILIA 00001206 004 OF 005 according to Felix, has closely studied the Spanish model, particularly in the area of responding to attacks. Felix noted that the Spanish response to the Madrid train bombings was very effective, as the trains were running shortly after the attacks. 12. (U) Brazil is also, according to Felix, currently elaborating a bill for the "defense of sovereignty", which will update the old national security law. The GSI-chaired Council on Foreign Relations and National Defense is working with MoJ on this proposal. (Note: the Council on Foreign Relations and National Defense, or CREDN, is a National Security Council-like body not to be confused with the Foreign Relations and National Defense Committees in Congress which also use CREDN for their initials. End Note.). According to Felix, the CREDN working group is going to try to come up with a list of crimes that constitute terrorism, and noted that "eventual punishments are less important more tricky is which crimes should be included." He added that there were still some weeks to go before the working group finishes up its work, but that they would soon submit the proposal to the ministries and after that to the President for approval before being introduced before Congress. 13. (U) Felix also discussed the newly created Nucleus of the Center for the Coordination of Activities for the Prevention and Combat of Terrorism, to be housed within GSI. According to Felix, this nucleus emerged from discussions the GOB had in 2004-05 as part of a project to create a national counterterrorism authority, which would have created a national agency to prevent and combat terrorism. In the end, noted Felix, they concluded that the attributes of an anti-terrorism "agency" would render it unworkable within the Brazilian system, so GSI decided on creating a "center." However, because of bureaucratic difficulties in creating such a center, GSI went ahead and proposed the creation of this nucleus. 14. (U) The problem for GSI in creating a "center" is that it does not have its own personnel. GSI officials are all seconded from other agencies. According to Felix, GSI will be sending proposal to Congress to allow GSI to have its own personnel. It will be staffed on a part-time basis by the officers that are detailed to GSI. The nucleus will follow actions related to terrorism promote threat assessment studies and provide coordination among the various ministries. (Comment: The "center" Felix referred to does not exist. GSI needs statutory authority to be able to create a center that will have its own staff. The newly created "nucleus" is in essence a proto-center, similar to the U.S. Terrorist Threat Integration Center, that could, after gaining statutory authority, eventually morph into a "center", or something somewhat equivalent to the U.S.,s National Counterterrorism Center. End comment.) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Comment: Long-Term Engagement Needed - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 15. (C) Lorenz,s admission represented a rare instance in which a Brazilian public official admits that AQ-linked individuals are either in, or have transited through, Brazil. That it was admitted publicly by one of Brazil,s top authorities on the subject of terrorism should give the United States some cover when engaging in counterterrorism-related dialogues with Brazil, including at the 3 Plus 1. It will also be helpful as we engage Brazilian audiences on the issue of passing CT legislation. In a surprising public admission, Felix, Lorenz, and members of Congress present at the hearing all agreed on the need to pass anti-terrorism legislation, with Lorenz stating point blank that the reason the Jihad Media Battalion,s Ali could not be charged with a more serious crime was inadequacy of current laws. 16. (C) Unfortunately, the admission appears unlikely to change Brazil,s public posture. While there appears to be an agreement in the GOB on the need to pass CT legislation, there is a lack of will to expend the political capital to do so. General Felix stuck to the script even as he was being BRASILIA 00001206 005 OF 005 contradicted, a script we have also heard from interlocutors at Brazil,s foreign ministry. Revealingly, Felix admitted that no matter what evidence is presented Brazil,s posture is deliberate and will not change. The argument boils down to this: Brazil is a racially, ethnically, and religiously harmonious society that engages in a correct and un-provocative foreign policy. As a result, Brazil is not a target of terrorists. In order to maintain this position, Brazil must do nothing that will make it a target, such as taking a higher-profile or more confrontational approach to counterterrorism efforts or actively looking to pass anti-terrorism legislation. 17. (C) To further complicate matters, many senior officials in both the government and the opposition were labeled terrorists and suffered exile, prison, or in some cases torture, under the military regime that ended in 1985. This is the case, for example, of the two most prominent presidential candidates to replace Lula in 2011, Lula,s minister of the Civil Household Dilma Rousseff and Sao Paulo,s opposition governor Jose Serra. In addition, many in the current government fear that members of what they consider to be legitimate social movements fighting for a more just society might be branded terrorists. Finally, Brazilians express concern that anti-terrorism legislation would be viewed as directed at Arab-Brazilians or Foz do Iguacu, and thus would become a divisive issues. As a result, many Brazilian officials are uncomfortable with giving the state greater authority to fight terrorism. 18. (C) This mindset presents serious challenges to our efforts to enhance counterterrorism cooperation or promote passage of anti-terrorism legislation. At the same time, with good operational cooperation on the issue between our law enforcement agencies, Brazil,s stated commitment to international anti-terrorism regimes, and work underway to draft a new national security law, there is every reason to enhance our engagement with the Brazilian government on this issue. Although there is little chance of an immediate change in posture or that a new national security law will be seriously considered in Congress before the 2010 presidential elections, we should begin engaging the GOB now on this issue. Securing passage of anti-terrorism legislation, changing the mindset of senior officials with regard to the threat that terrorism poses, and finding acceptable ways to cooperate on terrorism will be a long-term effort requiring commitment and creativity on our part. In light of Brazil,s role as a regional leader and its growing role as a global power, the investment will likely pay dividends well beyond Brazil. KUBISKE



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