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article imageBrazil steps up efforts to prevent terrorism at Summer Olympics

By Nathan Salant     Jul 16, 2016 in World
Rio De Janeiro - Brazil has assigned more than 22,000 soldiers to assist police and other security protecting the 2016 Summer Olympics scheduled to begin next month.
Hundreds of thousands of international visitors are expected at Olympics venues in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and Brasilia when the games begin on Aug. 5, officials said
Lt. Gen. Luiz Linhares of Brazil's Ministry of Defense said security forces would be on heightened alert in light of terrorist attacks around the world, even though the country does not have a history of terrorism.
"There is not a specific threat," Linhares said, according to Cable News Network (CNN).
"You have to screen for a great (spectrum) of threat," he said.
To up their game, Brazil's special forces have been training with SWAT teams flown in from France, the target of a few recent high-profile attacks.
Authorities also plan to screen the name of every Olympic ticketholder, Linhares said, to help ensure that the first Olympics held in South America proceeds peacefully.
While Brazil does not appear to have a problem with terrorist networks on its soil, at least one fighter for ISIS tweeted after the attacks in Paris in November that Brazil would be next, and ISIS members have launched a Telegram channel in Portugese, Brazil's official language, CNN said.
Peter Martin of security firm AFMAC Global said Brazil could offer anti-terror training to its police forces because it does have organized crime issues and those approaches overlap.
"When you're going after gangs like that, there are a lot of similarities to terrorists with intercepted communications, informants trying to penetrate the organization, trying to understand what the next target is," Martin said.
"It is different, but a lot of the methodologies apply," he said.
In a new travel warning to citizens considering attending the Olympics next month, the British government said there was "an underlying threat of terrorism" in Brazil.
"Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners," the warning said.
Perhaps adding to the discomfort, some members of Rio de Janeiro's police forces have not been paid due to a financial crisis at the state level, prompting some officers to stage protests at the city's main airport.
Rio de Janeiro's mayor, Eduardo Paes, complained to CNN that Rio state had done a "terrible" job on security.
"It's completely failing at its work of policing and taking care of people," Paes said.
But Brazilian officials insisted that Rio could successfully host the Olympics, even though construction of many needed facilities is still behind schedule.
Martin suggested that people planning to visit Rio de Janeiro monitor the situation there before they go and to know how to reach emergency services after they arrive.
"People need to understand that these situations are fluid, and it's not enough to make an assessment a month out and say, 'I'm good to go.'" Martin said.
"You want to monitor the situation quite frequently," he said.
Emergency numbers in Rio de Janeiro:
Medical Emergency (ambulância) Tel: 192
Fire Service (Corpo de Bombeiros) Tel: 193
Federal Police (Polícia Federal) Tel: 194
Federal Highway Police Tel: 191
State Highway Police Tel: 198
São Paulo Civil Police Tel: 197
São Paulo Military Police Tel: 190
Rio de Janeiro Civil Police Tel: 197
Rio de Janeiro Military Police Tel: 190
Sea Rescue Tel: (21) 2104 6119
More about South america, Brazil, Rio de janeiro, Olympics, Sept 11
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