Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Rio Olympics seem very vunerable to terrorist attacks. Brazil fires security company that was supposed to protect the games.

A protest by police at the Rio airport. Getty/AP

The Rio Olympics security situation has gotten even worse as Brazil has fired the security company in charge only a week before the games start. AP/Daniel Tran. Brazil, citing incompetence, fired Artel, a Rio De Janeiro security firm. Artel had been charged with hiring 3,400 security officers, but they only managed to hire 500 people. These officers were going to be in charge of searches. That duty will fall onto local cops, who have been protesting due to low pay and have even gone on strike. 85,000 security personnel are still expected at the Olympics. The Rio De Janeiro security situation has been criticized not only for the massive amount of street crime in the city, but for the threat of terrorism from groups such as ISIS. 

My Comment:
This is why it was a bad idea to have the Olympics in Brazil. The country is not known for good governance and Rio is not a safe city. Even if the security situation was perfect, and it is clear that it isn't, the threat is still high for athletes and fans. This isn't like the 2012 Olympics in the UK, which also had problems, it's in a country that already isn't safe. The UK Olympics went off without a hitch, but I am not so sure that this will happen in Rio. 

I am not surprised that Artel had difficulties in hiring the 3,400 officers that they needed. Contrary to popular belief, there are some qualifications you have to meet to be a security guard. My guess is that they were having problems finding people that would work for the wages that they offered while at the same time passing a background check. It's possible thought that Artel was just incompetent. I don't know enough about Brazil to figure it out either way. 

Local police will now handle the screenings. Normally that would probably fine in a country like the United States. It would be more expensive but it would go fine. But the Rio Police are involved in a pay dispute that could even lead to strikes during the Olympics. If that happens it will be an utter disaster, as I doubt they would find enough people to replace them to do screenings. 

My guess is that the Brazilian government will have to cave to the demands of the police. The cops know that they have all the leverage here. They know that the government has no other alternatives but to use them. I guess they could use soldiers as gate guards but I don't think that will go over well. Since Brazil is probably losing money anyways, they might as well pay the police off. 

Either way this has to be a major embarrassment for the Brazilian government. Brazil was trying to increase tourism and get more people to come there but that probably isn't going to happen now. Between the terror threat, the pollution, this incident and even the threat of Zika, I don't think too many people will want to go to Brazil after this Olympics. 

Normally this security situation wouldn't be a huge deal, but with the terror threat as high as it is, this is a major problem for Brazil. Keep in mind they just broke up a major ISIS terror plot. 12 people were arrested this week for plotting to attack the Olympics. Though that cell was likely broken up, ISIS has also called for lone wolf attacks on the Olympics as well. Though Muslims only make up .6% of the population of Brazil, that still means there are more then 1,000,000 there. Not all of them are radicalized but there is a population to recruit from. 

So there is a major threat in Brazil. And the fact that they are having so many problems with getting security in hand means that there is a real possibility of an attack, which might have been prevented if Brazil was on it's game. If an attack occurs, I think it will be more likely that it will be a low scale, lone wolf attack then an organized one like the Paris attacks. Given that the Nice attack, which killed 84 people and wounded 308 more, was essentially a lone wolf attack, that doesn't mean that the threat isn't real. A deadly attack is very possible. 

I don't know if an attack will occur. I won't be surprised if one does, but if it doesn't happen I won't be surprised either. What I do know is if one does happen it will be a major change for South America. There haven't been many attacks in South America when it comes to Islamic terrorism. To this point they have been the only continent besides Antarctica which has remained free from Islamic terrorist attacks. That is going to change someday, but let's hope it isn't at the Olympics...  

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