CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 28, 2016 — The eyes of Americans are shifting from our domestic, three-ring, political circus to the five-ring Olympic circus in Brazil.
Part of the tension surrounding this Olympics involves security. Observers warn not only of street crime in Rio, but also of terrorist attacks during the games. Not unexpectedly, ISIS has already tweeted out a warning saying, “Brazil, you are our next target.”
This is not an idle threat.
Ten Brazilian extremists with ties to ISIS have already been arrested for planning attacks at the games.
Al-Qaeda has also joined the call for violence in Brazil, suggesting that so-called “lone wolves” target American, French, British and Israeli athletes. They even took to social media to publish a list of specific athletes to target.
Christine Williams of Jihad Watch explained that a message from a cloud-based, jihadi instant messaging site, Telegram Messenger, especially encourages the capture of Israelis who could serve as potential bargaining chips to free Muslim prisoners.
“One small knife attack against American/Israelis in these places will have bigger media effect than any other attacks anywhere else, Inshallah,” wrote someone on Telegram Messenger. “Inshallah” is a common Arabic phrase meaning, “God willing.” It is used daily in every aspect of life as a means of justifying the outcome of any particular event.
Another wrote, “Your chance to take part in the global Jihad is here! Your chance to be a martyr is here!”
Key to the fear factor for terror in Rio and environs is the combination of an easy visa process and the availability of guns in highly impoverished areas of the country where crime is rampant.
Most alarming is a report that Brazil regards itself as an unlikely target for jihadists. That mindset ignores recent attacks. Locations as varied as Normandy, Nice and San Bernardino have all been hit by terrorist attacks in recent months.
Counter-terrorism specialist Luiz Alberto Sallaberry says the number of threats in Brazil has risen in recent months, thanks largely to an increase in “the number of Brazilian nationals suspected of sympathizing with ISIS militants.”
International journalists are beginning to realize that the world truly is at war with Islamic extremists. In light of that, The Jerusalem Post wrote, “jihadi terrorists … are being strengthened not only by jihadist sympathizers, but also by those useful idiots in the West who deny the reality of this war even as the tally of victims continues to mount.”
Terrorism loves the spotlight, but it also thrives in the shadows. Jihadists know well that global television coverage will keep viewers informed about any potential for an attack. It is the places where attention isn’t focused that offer the best opportunities for chaos, as evidenced by the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.
With law enforcement spread thin by the vast number of potential hot spots, jihadists have mastered the art of concentrating upon soft targets and creating chaos away from the spotlight.
In a terrorist’s mind, all that matters is to create the frenzy and place the focus upon them. Body counts are irrelevant so long as there are actual bodies to be counted. What is most important is the disruption of the norms and the worldwide attention upon Islam’s all out assault on civilization as we know it.
Beginning Aug. 5, Brazil may be in for the longest two weeks in its history.
Munich in 1972 was the first Olympics disrupted by terror. The games were halted briefly but continued under the cloud of death and destruction. It was a different time, however, because Munich was the first.
The memories linger, even today, 44 years later.
Brazil has already been embroiled in controversies that include the Zika virus, infrastructure readiness, environment concerns and whether the country is capable of handling the massive influx of spectators and athletes.
Terrorism has been busy elsewhere of late, but now the world is traveling to Rio. That fact alone is reason enough for concern because terrorists are not interested in the Samba and beaches.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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