The Slatest

Cartoonish Olympic Terror Plot Involving Martial Arts Thwarted in Brazil

Troops at the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro on July 5.

Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

Brazilian officials arrested 10 members of an Islamist organization on Thursday who were plotting a terrorist attack on the Olympic Games being held in Rio de Janeiro next month. The suspects, who are all Brazilian citizens, are part of a group called Defenders of Sharia. The Brazilian justice minister described the group as “absolutely amateur” and poorly organized in its support of ISIS.

The preparations for the Games have been fraught with controversy, and while terrorism is now a common and ever-present worry at global events like the Olympics, the biggest safety concern has been crime. The arrests have refocused attention on the possibility of terrorism in Brazil, which has struggled to put the finishing infrastructural touches on the Olympic Games.


Despite the terror warning shot, in this case the arrested men seem to be almost comically inept. None of the men knew one another other and each assumed Arabic code names, despite scant connection to the Arab world. The group’s general plan, according to the justice minister, was: “Let’s start training in martial arts, let’s start learning how to shoot.” They were reportedly trying to buy guns from Paraguay, but it’s unclear how far along in the process the group was. “It’s hard to call them terrorists,” the federal judge overseeing the case said. “But even though they don’t have a very solid organization, the arrests are warranted from a legal point of view.”