Arrests Made in Connection with Alleged Hezbollah Conspiracy in Brazil

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Brazilian authorities have arrested two men suspected of being linked to the Islamist group Hezbollah. The arrests were made in São Paulo during an operation to “disrupt the preparation of terrorist attacks”. The Israeli Prime Minister’s office said its spy agency Mossad worked with Brazilian law enforcement. Brazil is home to Latin America’s second-largest Jewish community. The alleged plot targeted Israeli and Jewish targets in Brazil.

Brazil’s Federal Police executed 11 search and seizure raids in São Paulo, the capital Brasília, and the state of Minas Gerais. The recruiters face charges of involvement in a terrorist organization and participating in preparations for terrorist acts. They could face maximum prison sentences of 15 and a half years if convicted. Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed Shia Muslim organization that exerts significant political influence in Lebanon and controls the country’s most powerful armed force. Like Hamas in the Gaza Strip, it is considered a terrorist organization by the UK, the US, Israel, Gulf Arab countries, and other nations.

Mossad said the planned attacks targeted Israeli and Jewish targets in Brazil and that it had helped to “foil a terrorist attack in Brazil” which was “planned by the Hezbollah terrorist organization, directed, and financed by the Iranian regime”. Mossad added that the planned attacks were part of an extensive network that operated in additional countries. While Mossad did not name the other countries, security experts have long tracked alleged Hezbollah operations in South America’s “tri-border area” between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Although Brazil may seem a long way from the Middle East, the region’s conflicts have long cast a shadow over South America. In neighbouring Argentina, which has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, Hezbollah has been blamed for the country’s deadliest terror attack – the 1994 bombing of the Amia Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people died. Hezbollah and Iran have both denied any involvement. No one has ever been brought to trial in connection with the bombing.

Both Brazil and Argentina have many citizens of Syrian or Lebanese descent, although the majority of them are Christians. More than 100,000 Jewish people live in Brazil, while twice that number live in Argentina. Argentina designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 2019, making it the first country in Latin America to do so. It was followed by Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Paraguay – but not, as yet, Brazil.

SOURCE: Ref Image from BBN Breaking

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