After uranium incident, Trump's move to upgrade security ties with Brazil looks prescient

President Trump's pow-wow with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro was a fairly good one, setting the stage for upgrading security ties between the two giants.  Now an attempted theft of uranium in Brazil by armed gunmen demonstrates in spades why that's a good idea.

Here's the Reuters report of the incident:

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) — Armed men shot at members of a convoy transporting uranium to one of Brazil's two working nuclear power plants on a coastal road in Rio de Janeiro state on Tuesday, police and the company managing the plant said.  They said the truck carrying the nuclear fuel and its police escort came under attack when it was passing by the town of Frade, about 30 km (19 miles) from Angra dos Reis, where the reactor is located.

Policemen guarding the convoy returned the attackers' fire, police said.  They said there were no injuries or arrests and the armed men fled.  The case is redolent of similar attempted robberies on Mexican medical trucks carrying nuclear supplies.

Similar attacks on medical trucks in Mexico carrying nuclear supplies have occurred — in 20132015 (the BBC linked report says there were two unspecified incidents in 2014, as well), 2017, and 2018.  Many of these cases have been dismissed as the work of clown-thugs who had no idea what they were taking, mainly wanting to steal just the truck.  Often, it's perfectly true.  Some cases have been solved, or rather, solved well enough (see the 2013 link above); others have not, or possibly not been covered by the press.  These kinds of robberies have also happened in the U.S.  Canada, according to this report, has reported 17 such thefts.  VICE News reports that nuclear thefts are more common than anyone thinks, citing IAEA data.

But the Brazil case is interesting, because the country does seem to be a target, raising the possibility that terrorists are looking for some dirty bomb supplies.

Why do I think that?  Because Hezb'allah has a lot of reported "bases" up north in Venezuela and elsewhere in the region.  It might even have some in Brazil.  What do they do?  Why would a Middle Eastern terrorist group need a base, or spend money on such "bases," in this hemisphere?  According to Stratfor:

South America is a strong base of operations for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has had a presence in the continent dating back to the 1980s.  The group established finance and logistical networks, which it used to facilitate two bombings in Argentina in the 1990s.  The first bombing in 1992 targeted the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and injuring 242 more.  A second bombing in 1994 targeted the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 and injured over 300.  Since then, Hezbollah has shifted its operational focus from terror attacks to criminal activity to raise money, entering South America's lucrative drug-trafficking business and dealing primarily with cocaine and heroin.  Previously, we explored what Hezbollah now does in South America, and where it does it. 

Now there's this sudden robbery attempt of nuclear supplies, in a nation with a large Hez'ballah presence in the country's tri-border area, and another large Hez'ballah presence up north in Venezuela, and yet another in Colombia.  Maybe it was thugs.  Maybe it was local terror group, such as the disgruntled holdouts from Colombia's FARC.  Maybe it was Hezb'allah.

The Reuters report is a bare-bones story, but it highlights the nature of the security issues and why an alliance with the States might be helpful in sweeping Hez'ballah, or whoever is doing this, if the purpose is a dirty bomb, out.  Brazil is a country still digging out from the rubble of extended socialism and all the lawlessness and terror-coddling that fosters, and it now has a sharp new president clear about his opposition to all of it.  A U.S. security alliance with him would make sense.  This report from Politico demonstrates the Trump administration's ferocious determination to get rid of Hez'ballah using every means necessary from the resources of the U.S. government.  Politico of all places writes:

The renewed focus on Hezbollah's presence and operations in Latin America is long overdue.  Hezbollah's last attempted international terrorism plot was in Peru, where a Lebanese Hezbollah operative, Mohammed Amadar, arrived in Peru in November 2013 and married a woman of dual Peruvian-American citizenship two weeks later.  The U.S. connection got the attention of the FBI's Miami Field Office.  Shortly thereafter, Amadar moved to Brazil, living in Sao Paulo until he returned to Lima in July 2014. Peru's anti-terror unit questioned him upon his arrival at the airport, put Amadar under surveillance, and arrested him for planning attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets that October.

Hezbollah today is deeply invested in operations in South America.  One of the most prominent operatives behind the AMIA bombing has now risen up the ranks of the organization and is personally overseeing Hezbollah operations in the region. 

It leaps out at me now that Trump has allied with Bolsonaro on security.  Combining U.S. and Brazilian resources and sharing intelligence on terrorist operations with dirty bomb dreams such as Hezb'allah, whose members are reportedly "up to no good" in the hemisphere, is a potential game-changer.

Now read this report from Susan Crabtree of Real Clear Politics, who covered the Trump-Bolsonaro meeting:

Beyond all the colorful mutual admiration, the real magnitude of the historic meeting should not be lost, especially when it comes to advancing U.S. security interests, regional experts stress.

Brazilian political leaders have long held the U.S. at arm's length, harboring deep anti-imperialist suspicions since a 1964 coup, supported by the U.S. government, overthrew then-President Joao Goulart.  The suspicions remained even after the country's shift to democracy in the mid-1980s.

But Bolsonaro eschewed that past, pledging a new "chapter of cooperation" and a grand new alliance between the two most populous nations and largest economies in the Western hemisphere.  He and Trump promised to work together to improve trade, oppose socialism and other leftist movements, and specifically to confront the political crisis in Venezuela.

Trump and Bolsonaro also signed an agreement with U.S. companies on technical safeguards to allow commercial satellite launches in northern Brazil.  Bolsonaro even stopped by CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., to discuss "international themes in the region," according to his son, Eduardo, a Brazilian lawmaker accompanying the president on his first overseas trip.

And it may have implications for the fate of Venezuela.  Besides being a failed state and socialist hellhole, it's also a Hez'ballah playground with a mafia-like criminal ruling coterie premised on the Hez'ballah specialty of drug-dealing.  That's what's holding the Maduro regime together and keeping its military leaders loyal — the prospect of drug money, along with the support of distant imperial powers such as China, Russia, Iran, and Cuba.

Trump has stated that he's after the Maduro dictatorship to get out and allow Venezuela's legitimate leader, Juan Guaidó, to govern.  He also said he hasn't unsheathed his sharpest sanctions weapons against the Maduro regime, which, surprise, had been bruited about earlier as putting the country on the state sponsor of terrorism list.

Is there a plan with this new security alliance with Brazil?  Does Trump know what he's doing?  Sure looks like it.  Together the two giants and their Latin American allies can squeeze kill-minded terrorists with dirty-bomb dreams — and their hosts — right out of the hemisphere.

President Trump's pow-wow with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro was a fairly good one, setting the stage for upgrading security ties between the two giants.  Now an attempted theft of uranium in Brazil by armed gunmen demonstrates in spades why that's a good idea.

Here's the Reuters report of the incident:

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) — Armed men shot at members of a convoy transporting uranium to one of Brazil's two working nuclear power plants on a coastal road in Rio de Janeiro state on Tuesday, police and the company managing the plant said.  They said the truck carrying the nuclear fuel and its police escort came under attack when it was passing by the town of Frade, about 30 km (19 miles) from Angra dos Reis, where the reactor is located.

Policemen guarding the convoy returned the attackers' fire, police said.  They said there were no injuries or arrests and the armed men fled.  The case is redolent of similar attempted robberies on Mexican medical trucks carrying nuclear supplies.

Similar attacks on medical trucks in Mexico carrying nuclear supplies have occurred — in 20132015 (the BBC linked report says there were two unspecified incidents in 2014, as well), 2017, and 2018.  Many of these cases have been dismissed as the work of clown-thugs who had no idea what they were taking, mainly wanting to steal just the truck.  Often, it's perfectly true.  Some cases have been solved, or rather, solved well enough (see the 2013 link above); others have not, or possibly not been covered by the press.  These kinds of robberies have also happened in the U.S.  Canada, according to this report, has reported 17 such thefts.  VICE News reports that nuclear thefts are more common than anyone thinks, citing IAEA data.

But the Brazil case is interesting, because the country does seem to be a target, raising the possibility that terrorists are looking for some dirty bomb supplies.

Why do I think that?  Because Hezb'allah has a lot of reported "bases" up north in Venezuela and elsewhere in the region.  It might even have some in Brazil.  What do they do?  Why would a Middle Eastern terrorist group need a base, or spend money on such "bases," in this hemisphere?  According to Stratfor:

South America is a strong base of operations for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has had a presence in the continent dating back to the 1980s.  The group established finance and logistical networks, which it used to facilitate two bombings in Argentina in the 1990s.  The first bombing in 1992 targeted the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and injuring 242 more.  A second bombing in 1994 targeted the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 and injured over 300.  Since then, Hezbollah has shifted its operational focus from terror attacks to criminal activity to raise money, entering South America's lucrative drug-trafficking business and dealing primarily with cocaine and heroin.  Previously, we explored what Hezbollah now does in South America, and where it does it. 

Now there's this sudden robbery attempt of nuclear supplies, in a nation with a large Hez'ballah presence in the country's tri-border area, and another large Hez'ballah presence up north in Venezuela, and yet another in Colombia.  Maybe it was thugs.  Maybe it was local terror group, such as the disgruntled holdouts from Colombia's FARC.  Maybe it was Hezb'allah.

The Reuters report is a bare-bones story, but it highlights the nature of the security issues and why an alliance with the States might be helpful in sweeping Hez'ballah, or whoever is doing this, if the purpose is a dirty bomb, out.  Brazil is a country still digging out from the rubble of extended socialism and all the lawlessness and terror-coddling that fosters, and it now has a sharp new president clear about his opposition to all of it.  A U.S. security alliance with him would make sense.  This report from Politico demonstrates the Trump administration's ferocious determination to get rid of Hez'ballah using every means necessary from the resources of the U.S. government.  Politico of all places writes:

The renewed focus on Hezbollah's presence and operations in Latin America is long overdue.  Hezbollah's last attempted international terrorism plot was in Peru, where a Lebanese Hezbollah operative, Mohammed Amadar, arrived in Peru in November 2013 and married a woman of dual Peruvian-American citizenship two weeks later.  The U.S. connection got the attention of the FBI's Miami Field Office.  Shortly thereafter, Amadar moved to Brazil, living in Sao Paulo until he returned to Lima in July 2014. Peru's anti-terror unit questioned him upon his arrival at the airport, put Amadar under surveillance, and arrested him for planning attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets that October.

Hezbollah today is deeply invested in operations in South America.  One of the most prominent operatives behind the AMIA bombing has now risen up the ranks of the organization and is personally overseeing Hezbollah operations in the region. 

It leaps out at me now that Trump has allied with Bolsonaro on security.  Combining U.S. and Brazilian resources and sharing intelligence on terrorist operations with dirty bomb dreams such as Hezb'allah, whose members are reportedly "up to no good" in the hemisphere, is a potential game-changer.

Now read this report from Susan Crabtree of Real Clear Politics, who covered the Trump-Bolsonaro meeting:

Beyond all the colorful mutual admiration, the real magnitude of the historic meeting should not be lost, especially when it comes to advancing U.S. security interests, regional experts stress.

Brazilian political leaders have long held the U.S. at arm's length, harboring deep anti-imperialist suspicions since a 1964 coup, supported by the U.S. government, overthrew then-President Joao Goulart.  The suspicions remained even after the country's shift to democracy in the mid-1980s.

But Bolsonaro eschewed that past, pledging a new "chapter of cooperation" and a grand new alliance between the two most populous nations and largest economies in the Western hemisphere.  He and Trump promised to work together to improve trade, oppose socialism and other leftist movements, and specifically to confront the political crisis in Venezuela.

Trump and Bolsonaro also signed an agreement with U.S. companies on technical safeguards to allow commercial satellite launches in northern Brazil.  Bolsonaro even stopped by CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., to discuss "international themes in the region," according to his son, Eduardo, a Brazilian lawmaker accompanying the president on his first overseas trip.

And it may have implications for the fate of Venezuela.  Besides being a failed state and socialist hellhole, it's also a Hez'ballah playground with a mafia-like criminal ruling coterie premised on the Hez'ballah specialty of drug-dealing.  That's what's holding the Maduro regime together and keeping its military leaders loyal — the prospect of drug money, along with the support of distant imperial powers such as China, Russia, Iran, and Cuba.

Trump has stated that he's after the Maduro dictatorship to get out and allow Venezuela's legitimate leader, Juan Guaidó, to govern.  He also said he hasn't unsheathed his sharpest sanctions weapons against the Maduro regime, which, surprise, had been bruited about earlier as putting the country on the state sponsor of terrorism list.

Is there a plan with this new security alliance with Brazil?  Does Trump know what he's doing?  Sure looks like it.  Together the two giants and their Latin American allies can squeeze kill-minded terrorists with dirty-bomb dreams — and their hosts — right out of the hemisphere.