RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian police on Thursday confirmed a new arrest of a suspected terrorist sympathizer in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, which get under way in just over a week.
A dozen other suspects were arrested on July 21 for allegedly plotting to carrying out terrorist attacks during the Games, whose opening ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 5.
Authorities said the latest suspect had been identified as 28-year-old Brazilian Chaer Kalaoun, a Muslim of Lebanese descent who is suspected of writing messages on social media expressing sympathy for terrorist groups.
Kalaoun’s attorney, Edison Ferreira, categorically denied those suspicions and said no formal accusation had been leveled against him.
“These are just preliminary investigations,” Ferreira told local media. The lawyer, who is representing Kalaoun in a separate case for illegal firearms possession, insisted on Kalaoun’s innocence.
Last week, Brazil’s Justice Ministry said police had arrested 12 suspects – all Brazilian – for alleged membership in an “amateurish” and disorganized terrorist cell.
Those individuals praised the Islamic State in social media posts and allegedly were planning to acquire weapons from clandestine arms dealers in Paraguay, authorities say.
The Federal Police also confirmed this week that it was investigating another potential terrorist cell whose activity was the subject of a news story aired Sunday by the Globo television network.
In exchanges cited by the Globo report, the suspects referred to the Olympics as an opportunity to “strike at our enemies.”