Brazilian authorities, working with Israeli intelligence, foiled a plot by Hezbollah to orchestrate attacks on Jews in the South American country, officials said Wednesday.
Brazil's Federal Police arrested two people suspected of being financed by the Lebanon-based and Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group to commit domestic attacks and to recruit Brazilian citizens, Reuters reported.
"The Federal Police is carrying out an investigation based on the hypothesis of a terrorist network that was trying to install itself in Brazil," Justice Minister Flavio Dino said at an event in Rio de Janeiro.
The two suspects were taken into police custody in Sao Paulo, but have not been identified. One was apprehended at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport after having just landed from Lebanon, the Times of Israel reported.
The intended targets reportedly included synagogues.
"We're following with apprehension and concern this Federal Police operation today. Brazil doesn't have a history of terrorism and we hope that the conflict in the Middle East isn't imported over to here," said Ricardo Berkiensztat, executive president of the Jewish Federation of the State of Sao Paulo.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hezbollah and Iran "continue to operate around the world to carry out attacks against Israeli, Jewish and Western targets."
"The Mossad (intelligence agency) operates and will continue to operate and thwart these attempts with a variety of methods wherever necessary," his office said.
Since the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli communities by Hamas, Hezbollah has engaged Israeli forces near the Lebanon border as both sides continue to trade rocket fire.
Hezbollah has long been suspected of targeting Jews abroad, including the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. The group is also responsible for killing 241 U.S. service members, most of them Marines, in the 1983 bombing of a military barracks at the Beirut International Airport.