Brazil arrests man over terror allegations

A Brazilian man has been arrested on terrorism charges just over a week from the Olympics after he posted comments online about the Islamic State group, his lawyer said Thursday.

Chaer Kaloun, 28, a Brazilian of Lebanese descent, was “taken overnight to Ary Franco prison in Rio and arrested for having posted comments on Islamic State,” lawyer Edson Ferreira told AFP.

Officials gave little detail about the arrest, which comes a week after 12 men were arrested on accusations of forming a cell to discuss potential attacks at the time of the Rio Olympics and swearing loyalty to Islamic State.

“Kalaoun was arrested yesterday evening at his home in Nova Iguacu,” in Rio de Janeiro state, a spokesman for the federal police in Rio said.

The justice department would only say that the arrest was made under anti-terrorism laws and that the indictment remains sealed.

Earlier, Ferreira said the allegations lacked substance. “There is no basic accusation,” he told Globo television.

“There’s nothing more than suspicions that he put posts on Facebook, that he posted links related to Islamic State, but which have nothing concretely to do with him. He has no link with Islamic State,” the lawyer said.

“He did not pledge allegiance, he was not recruiting, or bringing people or collaborating or encouraging any projects of the Islamic State,” he said.

Ferreira said his client is a Muslim and lived in Lebanon when he was an adolescent. He works for the family business which has shops in Rio de Janeiro’s Saara neighborhood, a historic center for Jewish and Arab immigrants.

However, unconfirmed Brazilian media reports said police suspect Kalaoun of recruiting for terrorist organizations in Brazil. He was also arrested during the 2014 World Cup on charges of illegal firearms possession.

Brazilian officials have downplayed the seriousness of the group arrested last week, calling them “amateur” and “disorganized.”

Members of the group, all Brazilian citizens, are accused of discussing potential attacks, attempting to buy a rifle online, and declaring allegiance to the Islamic State group via the internet.

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