Preventing and Combating Terrorism in Brazil
By Dialogo June 07, 2013
There is no doubt that Brazil made the list of countries most likely for terrorist attacks within the next few years, especially during the Confederations Cup, the 2013 visit of His Holiness the Pope, the 2014 World Cup, or the 2016 Olympic Games.
A nation’s first line of defense against transnational terrorism is its intelligence system. It could not be different in Brazil. The Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN), tried to restructure the old Brazilian system led by the National Information Services. It is the responsibility of ABIN to promote the data flow and integration of the system which encompasses the Armed Forces, several police, and public security departments, among other actors (industry organizations). Another success factor, considering globalization, is the exchange with agencies from other countries. Currently, the Brazilian Intelligence System (SISBIN), among several functions, seeks the operational capability to neutralize terrorist threats in Brazil.
Intelligence work has an ample scope and an urgent need for qualified professionals to develop different activities, including collection, which is considered the simplest form of activity, and as the name indicates, is the act of collecting ostensibly exposed data from open sources (internet, media, explicit reports, etc.). The “search” implies looking for denied data and is performed confidentially. This operation has great relevance due to the large scope of activities that can be performed by many terrorist groups nowadays. Their creativity is endless and the ability to identify and anticipate the nature of an attack makes the difference. For instance, we can name the hijacking of a civilian airplane for various purposes (September 11), bomb explosions (Madrid subway), the use of chemical or biological agents (Tokyo subway), suicide bombings (numerous cases in the Middle East), the use of firearms (the murder of Anwar El Sadat, in Egypt), and others as examples of these.
Recent experience teaches us that the operations which characterize the fourth generation war (including transnational terrorism) must prioritize human intelligence over intelligence signals and imagery. It is imperative that the activity is performed with great force and proactive characteristics.
These precautionary activities are universally included in the package of anti-terrorism procedures, which cover preventative countermeasures. It is the responsibility of the chief minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet of the Brazilian presidency, supported by the SISBIN, to promptly assist the president in the actions to be implemented during crisis situations. It is essential that decisions are made after taking into consideration the five fields of power: political, economic, psychosocial, military, scientific-technological.
The counter-terrorism activities are performed by highly qualified professionals in damage control, and by trained and prepared Special Operation Forces; in this activity, improvising is a very dangerous risk.
The control of actions such as dissemination of toxic gases or biological agents is extremely difficult and complex, in addition to implying high cost and a wide spectrum of activities, such as detoxification, decontamination, hospitals, trained professionals, mass vaccination of population, just to name a few of the activities. To perform all this, the Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Defense Peloton of the Special Operations Brigade needs to receive support from professionals who are specialized in the identification of threats, as well as more resources and equipment. Besides, institutions such as Fundação Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, a scientific institution for research and development in biomedical sciences located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and considered one of the world’s main public health research institutions, along with the Brazilian pharmaceutical industry, must be able to initiate short-term mass production of necessary vaccines and medication. The logistics are extremely complex, and the lack of training in this situation would cost many lives.
It is also a very serious mistake to think that the purchase of expensive equipment and black uniforms would turn a man into a counter-terrorism specialist. The selection and qualification process of these professionals has been very strict in countries where this activity is taken seriously, with an average approval rate of 25% among volunteers.
Brazil’s recent experience at the 5th Military World Games 2011 shows a trend in the establishment of a Special Operations Joint Task Force, which gathers the Army, Navy, Air Force, as well as the Federal, Military, and Civil Police.
*Fernando Montenegro is an Army Retired Brazilian Colonel, of Special Forces, Commands, and Paratroopers, specialized in Counter-terrorism
I entirely agree with the article and its proposition of synergy among the different national participants in fighting and preventing terrorism in a increasingly globalized scenario, where conflict and terror actions against â€œthe major history playersâ€ may very well be performed by neutral nations that do not have specific criminal laws regarding this issue, like Brazil, for example. Therefore, it is of great importance that we have the prevention and response abilities for different terror manifestations. As a former Navy military, I believe that our contribution capacity can be implemented and carried out through GRUMEC - Grupo de mergulhadores de combate [Combat Divers Group] and BatalhÃ£o Tonelero - BatalhÃ£o de OperaÃ§Ãµes Especiais do Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais [Marine Core Special Operations Battalion]. It is without a doubt that our current world is facing many challenges and threats at a global scale, the cold post-war has not brought peace, stability, safety or well-being to all the countries or nations of the world as expected. And it is very important to take measures and counter-measures to protect the groups of innocent people from certain conflicts and situations created by the ambitions or errors of others, and for that, intelligence at the level of human sources is very important as well as the secret high diplomacy to help decrease the tensions, and to dissuade and persuade, thank you.