Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Terrorism in Brazil

Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


The development of science and technology has spread terrorism activities on a large scale through sophisticated global networks. The globalization of terrorism has allowed countries – that have never been targets of terrorist acts – to participate in this global terror network. Brazil is one of these countries.

Terrorism and the Brazilian Dictatorship

During the Brazilian Dictatorship – 1964 - 1985 – terrorism was a term frequently used by the state. Any type of opposition to the military regime was considered terrorism and opposition members were deemed terrorists. The dictatorship acted against any and all types of opposition by arresting, torturing and exiling the opponents of the state. Dilma Rousseff, the current Brazilian President, was arrested and tortured as terrorist in the 1970s.

The years of dictatorship are still fresh in the minds of Brazilians. The word terrorist is still very much linked to the victims of the dictatorship, which explains why Brazil continues to avoid the use of this term to characterize some groups or organizations that are deemed terrorists by other countries.

Arms of Terrorist Islamic Groups

Religious and political terrorism has been the most recognized in the world, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The religious and political groups are not only commanded by religious organizations, but also present political goals: such as recognition, power, territory, concessions from states, and others. The Brazilian Government recognized the presence of terrorist organizations and affiliates inside the country.

According to the Federal Police, seven Islamic Organizations operate in Brazil:

  • Al Qaeda
  • Jihad Media Battalion
  • Hezbollah
  • Hamas
  • Jihad Islâmica
  • Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya
  • Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.

Most of them are not only located inside the national territory, but are also on the border of Paraguay and Argentina with Brazil. There is a huge concentration of Middle Eastern immigrants in area near the borders of these three countries. The area has been monitored closely by some countries that say that Brazil should participated more in the international fight against terrorism.

National Violent Movements and Organizations

There is NO Brazilian terrorist group, basically because the Constitution of Brazil does not define what terrorism is. Although, some Brazilian organizations and movements present very specific political goals and fight for them, acting in a very similar way to terrorist groups: causing general panic in order to call attention to their aims.


PCC is the Primeiro Comando da Capital, which is an organized crime group with social aims. The group commits acts of physical and psychological violence against people and communities, but they aren't recognized as terrorists.

In May of 2006, the PCC created a wave of panic in the city of São Paulo. The group destroyed buses, public buildings and construction projects as well as injuring police officers and citizens. The group was demanding improvement of the Brazilian prison system and better quality in prisons.

According to the federal judge, Odilson de Oliveira – who works with the organized crime in Mato Grosso do Sul – high possibilities exist of the PCC actuation in foreign territory for a long time period. The organization seems to be acting in Paraguay and could also be linked with the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Comando Vermelho

Comando Vermelho is the name of a Brazilian criminal organization that has operated in Rio de Janeiro since 1979. The group is also known as CV and was created in the prison Cândido Mendes in Ilha Grande by a group of regular prisoners and political prisoners that had fought against the dictatorship.

The regular prisoners were members of Falange Vermelha, a criminal organization that practiced all types of crimes, from drug trafficking to casinos, prostitution and slavery of foreigners, as well as, human organ trafficking.

During the 1990th decade, Comando Vermelho was the most powerful criminal organization of Rio de Janeiro, but nowadays most of their leaders have been arrested or killed. The group still controls various points of drug trafficking in favelas. In Rio you can still find streets with the letters “CV” sprayed on the walls.

Some others criminal groups appeared in Brazil as enemies of Comando Vermelho, such as Terceiro Comando, Amigos dos Amigos and Terceiro Comando Puro. These groups still operate in a few favelas in Rio de Janeiro, but they are not as powerful as they used to be. Only Amigos dos Amigos, also known as ADA, is still considered the third biggest organized crime unit in Brazil.


In Brazil, there are a lot of neo-Nazis groups. The biggest part of them is concentrated in the southern region of the country, most likely do to the large influence of the German immigrants. It had been proven that these groups are increasing in southeast and central-western regions, especially in the States of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and the capital district or Distrito Federal.

The largest portion of these groups is comprised of teenagers and young people that are searching for some sort of identity and affiliation as well as self-affirmation. They are mostly connected by social networks, where they can attack certain religious and ethnic groups such as Jews, Afro-Brazilians,nordestinos (people from the northeast of Brazil) homosexuals and drug addicts.

Episodes of violence against the aforementioned groups sponsored committed by neo-Nazis occurs sporadically in Brazil. The Federal Police and the State Police of every state are constantly monitoring the activities of these groups. The neo-Nazis may not be considered a terrorist group but they act similarly, presenting an ideology and the need for violent action to called attention to their demands.

The largest groups in Brazil are:

  • Carecas do Subúrbio
  • Carecas do ABC
  • White Power.

Change of Approach: Brazil is creating an Anti-terror Legislation

Even though the Brazilian Government do not acknowledge the existence of terrorism in Brazil, the arrival of important global events set to take place in the country, Brazil could become a new target for terrorist groups. The World Cup (2014) and the Olympics Games (2016) – that will be located in Brazil – may require the adoption of anti-terror laws in the country.

The Brazilian National Congress, started to discuss in 2013 a project that will classify what a terrorist crime is. The text reveals that terrorist actions will be considered any type of action that creates general panic and that are commit for ideological, political, religious or racists motives. The project’s goal is to guarantee that acts committed by fundamentalists start to be classified as terrorism.