The police operation, codenamed ‘Hashtag,’ took place across nine states, with suspects arrested in Sao Paulo and Parana. Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes told a news conference on Thursday that all the detainees were Brazilian nationals.
Judicial authorities in the state of Parana claimed that intercepted data and telephone calls revealed that a terrorist cell was planning to use “weapons and guerrilla tactics” to achieve its aims. It says that 12 warrants have been issued for an initial 30 days, which could be extended if charges are substantiated.
Moraes said that the men were new converts to Islam, who initially researched jihadism on the internet, and came into contact by simply exchanging pro-jihadist messages on the chat platforms WhatsApp and Telegram, according to leading Brazilian media outlet O Globo.
In their exchanges the men celebrated recent attacks on an Orlando night club and on a Bastille Day crowd in Nice. Recently, they “swore an oath to Islamic State” and moved to “preparatory acts” for a local attack. According to Moraes, one of the men attempted to buy a Kalashnikov rifle from a website in Paraguay.