It’s not just athletes who have arrived in Brazil for the Olympics: Hundreds of intelligence and law enforcement officers are also descending on Rio to ensure security at the event.
Over 300 spies and special forces employees are currently operating on the ground in Rio, NBC claims, citing a classified US intelligence report. A larger group of over 800 intelligence analysts are operating from US soil monitoring the security situation in Brazil.
Both groups are tasked with disrupting “any potential threats to the Olympic Games in Rio,” the outlet cites spokesman for National Intelligence Director James Clapper as saying.
The units are compiled of members of all 17 US intelligence agencies, including the FBI, NSA, CIA and the armed forces. The teams are allegedly monitoring social media monitoring while also employing electronic eavesdropping.
While small groups of Marines and Navy special operators are currently stationed in Brazil, a larger number of troops are reportedly on standby in case the Games is targeted by a large-scale attack.
According to NBC “US intelligence agencies are working closely” with their Brazilian counterparts. Washington says both countries have been cooperating on an “excellent” level for the past 15 years and that Brazil’s security services are “well-prepared.”
Back in March, Brazil passed a new anti-terror bill that allowed broader ties between the intelligence services of both states. “The legislation has opened up new channels of cooperation between our two governments,” the US ambassador to Brazil was quoted by The New York Times as saying.
Officials have not yet announced any signs of potential threats to the security at the Games that start on August 5.
However, Brazil’s anti-terror chief Luiz Alberto Sallaberry said that there is a “credible threat” from Islamic State, The Mirror reports.
The country was on high alert after July 19 after a call for terror acts in Brazil appeared on a channel on encrypted smartphone app Telegram. Several messages were posted on the channel, called “Inspire the Believers!”, according to Brazil’s cyber security agency SITE. The statement read “lone Wolf from anywhere in the world can move to Brazil now. Visas and tickets and travel to Brazil will be very easy to get in sha Allah.”
Last month Brazilian intelligence claimed it was looking into many “threats”, CNN quoted the body. The intelligence service added that all threats that “deserve attention are investigated exhaustively,” the outlet reported.
Also in July Brazilian police arrested several residents in Rio for alleged connections to Islamic State. NBC says Brazil’s justice minister labeled the men “amateurs” but admitted that the Olympic Games were parts of their discussion.
Sending its own intelligence to Brazil would be not the first time that the US has been involved in similar cooperation. Hundreds of American intelligence agents and law enforcers descended in the UK for London 2012 Olympics, AP reported back then.
Already close cooperation between both countries was boosted following the September 11 attacks in the US in 2001 and the July 7 bombings in London in 2005.
According to Washington Post dozens of US security experts were also sent to assist Russian intelligence during the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.