I'm in DC now for a few meetings, and I'm talking quite a bit about Brazil. It seems there is a lack of information and understanding about Brazil's future here in the nation's capital.
When I speak to US federal agents - and other security analysts - about Brazil's past, especially regarding their interest in working with Brazil in the arena of terrorist financing and related security matters, the usual response is simple.
Brazil doesn't play ball because they don't think terrorism is a Brazilian problem.
There is one reason why this type of pre-programmed response has begun to change on the Brazilian side.
Brazil is becoming more important on the global stage. As the so-called "sleeping giant" begins to make waves beyond South America, Brasilia will be expected to assist Washington and other countries with relevant security-related efforts, and this stretches well beyond UNASUR and Ameripol into the realm of terrorist financing, organized criminal activity out of Eastern Europe, and, most recently, terrorist communication networks.
Recently the Brazilian Federal Police, working with the FBI, captured an alleged "important leader" of the Al Qaeda organization. According to some reports, this man had a "high degree" of operational responsibility in the sector of communications.
This man, now named Khaled Hussein Ali, comes from the Bekaa Valley region of Lebanon and had worked in the IT sector in Sao Paulo. He has lived in Brazil for some 20 years.
His location in Sao Paulo is significant because heretofore, the focus of terrorist activity in Brazil, was in the south, bundled around Ciudad del Este, the focal point of the region's most famous tri-border area.
Khaled was arrested due to his association with the Jihad Media Battalion, which is known as a "very radical" Islamic group. He was arrested for racism on the 26th of April, then released some time later by a Brazilian federal judge who saw no reason to keep the guy under lock and key. The Brazilian government has denied that Khaled is part of Al Qaeda (predictably), but it has revoked Khaled's Lebanese passport.
As far as I know, there have been wire taps on Khaled's phones, and the Brazilian media continues to follow this case pretty closely. As I learn more, I'll post it here.
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