Brazilian authorities have arrested two individuals believed to have connections with Hezbollah on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack.

Two individuals with potential ties to the Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah were apprehended by Brazilian federal authorities for allegedly planning to carry out terrorist acts targeting the Jewish population in Brazil.

On Wednesday, the police conducted an operation to disrupt plans for potential terrorist acts and gather evidence on the potential involvement of Brazilians in carrying out extremist acts. Several arrests were made as a result.

According to media outlets, a male individual was apprehended at Guarulhos, São Paulo’s largest international airport, upon arriving from Lebanon. CNN Brasil stated that federal authorities suspect he arrived with information to share with his accomplice regarding the execution of the attacks.

According to Rio’s O Globo newspaper, investigators have indicated that the group intended to carry out attacks on properties owned by Brazil’s Jewish community, such as synagogues. However, no specific targets were mentioned.

The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s office expressed gratitude towards the Brazilian security services for apprehending a terrorist cell, believed to be linked to Hezbollah, that was planning an attack on Israeli and Jewish targets in Brazil.

Netanyahu’s office indicated that Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, and other foreign security agencies had played a role in the operation, which it said had “foiled a terrorist attack in Brazil, planned by the Hezbollah terrorist organization, directed and financed by Iran … This was an extensive network that operated in additional countries.”

Brazil is the residence of the second largest Jewish population in Latin America and also houses a 17th-century synagogue believed to be the earliest one constructed in the Americas.

Several sources stated that the detained individuals were connected to Hezbollah, a militant group based in Lebanon.

Law enforcement officials stated that they had executed search warrants in three areas: São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and the federal district surrounding Brasília, the capital of Brazil.

According to a statement from the police, both the recruiters and the individuals they recruit may be charged with forming or being part of a terrorist group, as well as planning terrorist activities. If found guilty, they could potentially face a sentence of up to 15 and a half years in prison.

In the aftermath of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Hezbollah was established by extremist Shia religious leaders. Currently, it holds both significant political influence and operates as a militant organization with a presence worldwide, including in South America. The US has designated Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization, while the UK considers it a banned international terrorist group due to its reputation for orchestrating large-scale suicide attacks.

Hezbollah has been held responsible for previous terrorist acts, such as the 1983 suicide bombings targeting US and French troops, as well as the US embassy in Lebanon. These attacks resulted in the deaths of over 300 military personnel and innocent civilians.

In March of 1992, Hezbollah was held responsible for the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This attack resulted in the deaths of 29 individuals and was executed by a suicide bomber named Muhammad Nur al-Din, a citizen of Lebanon who had previously moved to Brazil. According to reports, the bombing was organized in the triple border area shared by Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.

In 1994, the Jewish community in Argentina faced a devastating tragedy when 86 individuals lost their lives in a bombing at the AMIA Jewish community center. The New York Times described it as “one of the most lethal acts of antisemitism since World War II”.

A previous article in the same publication revealed that Mossad’s investigation found that the two attacks in Argentina were conducted by a covert Hezbollah team in response to Israeli actions against the organization, such as the killing of their leader, Abbas Musawi, in 1992. The bombs used in the Buenos Aires bombings were allegedly brought into the country from Europe on flights disguised as shampoo bottles and chocolate boxes.

Latin America has numerous significant Jewish populations, with the largest being in Argentina, where it is estimated that 180,000 Jews reside. In Brazil, approximately 100,000 Jews call Rio and São Paulo home, while Mexico is home to 40,000 Jews.


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