Al Qaeda in Brazil?

The news magazine Veja reports that Brazilian federal police are investigating “dozens” of foreign terrorists operating in this South American country. The allegations aren’t precisely new—cables detailing cooperation, and lack of it, between Brazil and the US in monitoring terrorists here were among the State Department documents published by Wikileaks last year. But Veja names names, gives more details and publishes photos of men it says are terrorists (some of whom visited Brazil but don’t appear to actually live here). The story is long on innuendo, and somewhat short on new facts. The details run alongside photos of Osama Bin Laden, the burning twin towers on 9/11 and images of coffins of tourists shot at Egypt's Luxor ruins in 1997.

The story opens by describing a man named Khaled Hussein Ali, who Veja says is the chief of an organization that creates and distributes Al Qaeda propaganda. Ali reportedly makes his money running a Brazilian internet café, but has a secret life coordinating the "Jihad Media Batallion" and circulating videos and texts of Bin Laden around the world. The magazine says Brazilian federal police arrested Ali in 2009, accusing him of sending hate mail targeting black and Jewish Americans. He wasn’t charged with being a terrorist, according to Veja, because the Brazilian penal code doesn’t specify terrorism as a crime.

Among others named in the article, several men are accused of sending money to Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim political group in Lebanon with a militant wing that the United States and many other countries define as a terrorist organization. Unidentified sources in the Brazilian federal police are said to be the source of much of the information. The only official comment Brazilian federal police gave was a vague statement saying they don't label people or groups in Brazil as terrorists, a statement Veja dismisses as "dubious and incoherent" in the story. Veja ends the article by noting the police are affraid the terrorists could organize attacks against the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.