BRASILIA (Reuters) – Al Qaeda operatives are in Brazil planning attacks, raising money and recruiting followers, a leading news magazine reported yesterday, renewing concerns about the nation serving as a hide-out for Islamic militants.
Veja magazine, in its online edition, reported that at least 20 people affiliated with al Qaeda as well as the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah, the Palestinian group Hamas and two other organizations have been hiding out in the South American country.
The magazine said these operatives have been raising money and working to incite attacks abroad. The magazine cited Brazilian police and US government reports, but did not give details on specific targets or operations.
The United States has said Islamic militants have been operating in the border region between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Brazil has denied this, while saying it is aware that some members of Brazil’s Lebanese community legally transferred funds to the Middle East.
There has been a warming of relations between Brazil and the United States since President Dilma Rousseff took office in January. She has sought closer US ties after her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, angered the United States with attempts to mediate over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Veja reported that a Lebanese man named Khaled Hussein Ali, who has lived in Brazil since 1998, is an important member of al Qaeda’s propaganda operation and has coordinated extremists in 17 countries.