Brazil 'hid' co-operation with US
Washington - Brazil has deliberately kept its anti-terrorism co-operation with the United States from public view, rejecting any suggestion that Islamic militants are active in its territory, a leaked US diplomatic cable showed on Sunday.
Dated October 2009, the cable from the US Embassy in Brasilia to the US State Department said that while Brazil is concerned about terrorist activities in its territory, publicly it puts on a different face.
"Although there is good working-level law enforcement co-operation between the US and Brazil on terrorism related activities, the official position of the government is to deny that Brazil has any terrorist activity," the cable said.
"The senior levels of the Brazilian government," it added "publicly deny the possibility that terrorist groups or individuals connected to such groups operate or transit through Brazilian soil and vigorously protest any claims made by US authorities to that effect."
The cable said that contrary to Brazil's official line, "in reality, several Islamic groups with known or suspected ties to extremist organisations have branches in Brazil and are suspected of carrying out financing activities".
It mentions a July 2009 US congressional hearing where Brazil's top police intelligence chief "publicly admitted" that an arrested suspect in Brazil "had performed duties for (al-Qaeda), ranging from propaganda, to logistics, recruitment, and other activities".
Protecting Cup host's image
However, the suspect was arrested for hate crimes since Brazil "lacks counterterrorism legislation", the diplomat added.
US-Brazilian anti-terrorist monitoring activities focused on suspects in Sao Paulo, home to most of Brazil's estimated 1.3 million Muslims, and areas bordering Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela.
The cable was among 250 000 released by WikiLeaks in a massive, slow motion document dump still reverberating through governments and foreign ministries around the world.
While no reason was given for Brazil's cover-up, Britain's The Guardian newspaper, which disclosed the Brazilian cable, said it may have to do with protecting Brazil's image as the host of the 2014 Soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Brazil's anti-terrorism co-operation may also explain US restraint at criticising Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's friendship with presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, the daily added.