Al-Qaida cells active in Brazil, magazine says


BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — The terrorist organization al-Qaida is active in Brazil, including planning attacks and recruiting followers, a Brazilian magazine reported.

The revelation published over the weekend in Veja is causing serious concern in Brazil and Argentina.

"We have high concern about fundamentalist movements in Latin America and about recruitment activities of fundamentalist movements," Aldo Donzis, the president of DAIA Jewish umbrella organization in Argentina, told JTA on Monday.  "We shared this information with Latin American parliamentarians last July and they agreed with our information. But the situation is getting worse.

"In Argentina, we have seen graffiti written in Arabic calling for jihad which coincided with the visit of Iranians here. Also, this graffiti was seen in Bolivia. We understand that Brazil needs to feel worried and act.

"There are terrorist sleeper cells waiting to be activated," said Donzis, whose organization has been warning about the presence of Islamic fundamentalism in the region for years.

According to the magazine, Moshen Rabbani, a former cultural attache to the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires and a main suspect in the 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, frequently flies to Brazil using false documents to visit his brother, most recently in September.  

The article said that in the "Triple Frontier" area on the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, Hezbollah and Hamas cells have been operating for years, and also have provided forged passports from Brazil, Portugal, Mexico and Spain to militants arriving from the Middle East.

Henry Chemelnitsky, president of the Israelite Federation of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, said Monday that he would ask his federal government for an explanation of the report.

"When we read the news we were very worried," Chemelnitsky told Radio Jai, the Argentinian Jewish Radio. "The government will have to address this issue very clearly because this is something that includes risks. We have many doubts about what could happen here in Brazil; perhaps another AMIA.

He added, "We knew there was some Muslim fundamentalism in some mosques in San Pablo, but this is very, very deep."

Chemelnitsky noted that relations between the Jewish and Arab communities in Brazil are very good.

According to Alberto Nisman, the Argentinian prosecutor of the AMIA investigation, Rabbani played a key role in the preparation and execution of the AMIA terrorist attack, and also has directed dangerous regional activity.

In an interview with JTA from Washington, Nisman questioned why Interpol has been unable to arrest Rabbani under its red alert warrant during his trips to Argentina.

"We have pictures to identify him, so even if he enters with false documents, they could stop him," he said.

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