USDOS – US Department of State (Author)
Overview: Brazil and the United States maintained strong counterterrorism cooperation in 2017, building on collaborative efforts the previous year during the lead up to the 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazilian officials increased public attention to the issue. The Brazilian Federal Police (DPF), Brazil’s lead counterterrorism agency, worked closely with the United States and other nations’ law enforcement entities to assess and mitigate potential terrorist threats. The Brazilian government continued to support counterterrorism activities, which included third‑country technical assistance for controlling sensitive technologies and investigating fraudulent travel documents.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no major changes since 2016 in counterterrorism legislation or in the division of responsibility among agencies tasked with counterterrorism efforts.
On May 4, Brazil handed down its first convictions under counterterrorism Law 13.260, sentencing eight Brazilian citizens to between five and 15 years of imprisonment for “promoting ISIS and terrorist acts” through social media. The convictions were related to 2016’s Operation Hashtag, which dismantled a loose, online, pro-ISIS network prior to the Olympics, the first arrests under the law.
On October 10, the DPF made its second counterterrorism arrest, taking into custody an individual with alleged online links to ISIS.
Brazil shares vast international borders with 10 countries and many of its borders are porous. Irregular migration with Brazil often serving as a transit country is a problem, especially by aliens that raise terrorist concerns from areas with a potential nexus to terrorism. Brazil increased its focus on border security in 2017 as part of an overall National Public Security Plan, largely out of concerns about the growing problem of transnational organized crime. On October 30, in the border state of Acre, 20 state governors and the Ministers of Defense, Justice, Institutional Security, and Foreign Relations signed an accord to establish a National Public Security System to address border security in an integrated fashion between state and federal authorities. Brazil also increased cooperation and information sharing with neighboring nations on border issues. A new immigration law took effect in November, but aside from reaffirming the importance of border security, it did not have a specific terrorism focus.
All law enforcement agencies, including those tasked with border security and counterterrorism, continued to suffer in 2017 from budget constraints caused by the deepest economic decline in Brazil’s history. These effects were particularly acute at major ports of entry, including air, sea, and land borders.
Brazilian authorities continued to work with other concerned nations – particularly the United States – to counter document fraud. Regional and international joint operations successfully disrupted a number of document vendors and facilitators, as well as related human-smuggling networks. The Department of State provided comprehensive and ongoing counterfeit and fraudulent document recognition training to airline and border police units through its Investigations Program. The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and Customs and Border Protection have trained Brazilian airline employees on identifying fraudulent documents.
The U.S.-Brazil Container Security Initiative (CSI) in Santos, which began in 2005, operated throughout 2017. The CSI was designed to increase security for container cargo shipped to the United States. Similarly, the National Civil Aviation Agency, DPF, and Brazilian Customs continued to work with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to make modifications to Brazil’s National Cargo Security Program to obtain TSA recognition of commensurability for cargo security procedures, training, and operations at Brazil’s international airports.
The Brazilian Army continued to implement an Integrated Border Monitoring System to monitor the country’s borders using a combination of personnel, cameras, sensors, and satellites. The strategic initiative is underway in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul with intention to cover the entire Brazilian border by 2021.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Brazil is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a FATF-style regional body. Its financial intelligence unit, the Council for Financial Activities Control, is a member of the Egmont Group. While it has made progress mitigating the shortcomings identified in its third round mutual evaluation report (MER) from 2010, Brazil continued work to address the remaining deficiencies, most notably its domestic designation framework.
On January 31, 2017, Brazil issued two implementing regulations for Laws 13.170 and 13.260 to address gaps in its countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) regime, specifically allowing for domestic terrorism designations and facilitating international cooperation on terrorism investigations. Despite this progress, in its 14th follow-up report to the 2010 MER, FATF noted deficiencies remained with the CFT regime in terms of full compliance with FATF standards. In response to FATF’s observations, Brazil committed to an action plan for addressing the remaining deficiencies. As part of the plan, the Brazilian government has drafted new legislation with a target for adoption by June 2018.
Brazil’s financial intelligence unit (FIU) participated in a June fact-finding mission to gather information on financial activities and illicit finance risks in the Tri-Border Area encompassing Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; and Foz do Iguazu, Brazil. This was a joint project with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Argentine, Brazilian, and Paraguayan financial intelligence units, and the Argentine and Paraguayan Central Banks, and supervisory authorities.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Brazil consistently issued statements of condemnation for terrorist acts around the world. The Senate and various government agencies, including the DPF and Ministry of Foreign Relations, also organized or participated in numerous conferences addressing international terrorism, with a particular emphasis on countering online radicalization to violence and preventing the use of the internet for terrorist purposes.
International and Regional Cooperation: Brazil participated in regional counterterrorism fora, including the Organization of American States and its Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), the BRICS Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism (with Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and the working group on terrorism and sub-working group on financial issues of the Southern Common Market. Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay coordinated law enforcement efforts in the Tri-Border Area via their Trilateral Tri-Border Area Command.
In February 2017, Brazil participated in a Practitioner’s Workshop on Countering Transnational Terrorist Groups in the Tri-Border Area. The conference was hosted by the Argentine Federal Intelligence Agency with the sponsorship of the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. The two‑day workshop included prosecutors, judges, law enforcement investigators, financial intelligence and sanctions officials, and intelligence officials from the region.
In September, Brazil hosted an international OAS CICTE training event focused on preventing illegal and terrorist use of the internet in Sao Paulo.