United States secret diplomatic messages released Sunday through WikiLeaks reveal that Brazilian authorities arrested “several suspects allegedly involved in terrorism financing activities”, but basically accused them of different charges “so as not attract attention from the press or high government levels”.
The information is contained in data sent January 2008 to the State Department by the former US ambassador in Brazil, Clifford Sobel in reference to Brazilian policy to combat terrorism.
The messages are part of 250.000 documents released by WikiLeaks and published Sunday by The New York Times; The Guardian; Le Monde; El País and the German magazine, Der Spiegel. The diplomatic documents, many random cover almost fifty years, from the sixties to February 2010.
In his dispatch the US ambassador states that the government of Brazil is “a cooperative partner” against terrorist activities, in spite of the fact it does not like to make the issue public. The document adds that Brazil collaborates inclusively “with frequent arrests of individuals linked to terrorism”.
The document adds that the issue is addressed with extreme care in the country because “Brazil fears stigmatizing the large Muslim community in the country” and harming “the image of the region as a tourism destination”. The text points out that the Brazilian official public position tries to avoid been seen as another example of the aggressive US policy in the war against terrorism.
The January 2008 document on Brazil indicates that the highest offices of the Brazilian government, “particularly the Foreign Affairs ministry” are “extremely sensitive to any allegations that terrorists have some sort of presence in Brazil, be it to collect funds, plan logistics or even be in transit through the territory” and the official policy is “to strongly reject any statements” pointing to that direction.
Besides the imprisonments, the document signed by US ambassador Sobel recalls that usually suspects are accused of several charges not related to terrorism or terrorist activities to “avoid attracting attention from the media or high government levels”.
The message quotes specifically the Brazilian Federal Police that in 2007 arrested several suspects of financing terrorist activities, but were charged for alleged links and association with narcotics dealings, among other crimes. The document adds that the “Brazilian Intelligence Agency” (ABIN) closely monitors the activities of those allegedly extremists.
Further on the ambassador points out that media coverage in Brazil is concentrated on the alleged presence of extremists in the so called “Triple Border” area (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay). But in spite of the media coverage “the main concern of ABIN and counter terrorism Brazilian and US agents is the presence of individuals with terrorist linked activities, (suspected Sunni terrorists and some peripheral Hezbollah) in the city of Sao Paulo and in other areas of southern Brazil.
WikiLeaks is a site involved in revealing secret military documents from the US and other countries. Earlier this year the site leaked almost 400.000 documents on the Iraq war and another 90.000 confidential messages referred to abuses committed in the Afghanistan conflict.