While this news was first revealed over the weekend, shocking footage released this week showing a Jordanian pilot being burnt alive by Isis militants, besides horrific in nature, also appears to have been compiled by professionals. It is believed that Portuguese members of the Islamic State were likely behind the cameras and were responsible for producing and editing the video that has shocked the world.
In one of only 16 Tweets posted by Nero Saraiva (pictured here and on the front page), an Angolan-born Portuguese citizen, he revealed in July that a video was to be posted by the Islamic State, saying: “Message to America the Islamic state is making a new movie. Thank u for the actors.”
The following month, footage emerged of the beheading of American journalist James Foley, under the headline: “Message to America.”
Nero Saraiva, 28, along with four other Portuguese nationals, is also thought to have housed ten British Jihadists before they travelled to Syria via Turkey.
Reports this week said the group lived in apartments in the Sintra area between 2012 and 2013.
Following the news of Portuguese involvement in terror acts in Syria and Iraq being more prominent than first believed, the Minister of Internal Affairs this week called for change to counter terrorism measures in Portugal.
According to Anabela Rodrigues, the Anti-Terrorism Unit (UCAT) needs to be reshuffled due to the increasingly greater demands in the prevention and combat of terrorism.
Without disclosing details and how she believed reforms should be implemented at the unit created in 2003 as Portugal was preparing to host the European football championships, she indicated that interaction between the country’s police and intelligence services could be fine-tuned.
This follows a marathon meeting earlier in the week during which the Government analysed a proposal about the national counter-terrorism strategy.
Following the meeting, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho issued a statement explaining the strategy will not only focus on improved cooperation within the country’s border, but would also seek to boost contacts with Portugal’s European and global partners in their common fight against terrorism.
These meetings at the highest level appear to have been sparked by a series of events in the past week which have seen Portuguese nationals associated with a number of acts of terror.
Over the weekend, the Attorney-General’s office issued a statement explaining that a number of separate investigations are currently open with regards to Portuguese accomplices of the Islamic State. It failed to disclose any further details citing Portugal’s strict judicial secrecy laws.
These investigations appear to be connected to a series of news reports emanating from Britain last week, indicating that Portuguese jihadists were among the highest ranking members of Isis.
Last week, Expresso revealed that the five Portuguese Jihadists, who have been the topic of a documentary on BBC and a series of reports by the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail, are not considered to pose an immediate danger.
While about 20 Portuguese or Portuguese-descendants have enlisted for the Jihad, the five identified last week are not believed to be receiving training to carry out attacks on home or European soil. Instead the group is said to have climbed the Islamic State hierarchy and are now focussed on recruitment and propaganda within the organisation.
Messages posted on Jihadist social networking sites have meanwhile pointed to four Portuguese nationals being killed in fighting in recent months.
Back in 2012, Jean-Louis Bruguière, who was the leading French investigating magistrate in charge of counter-terrorism affairs and the judge responsible for putting away Carlos the Jackal, indicated that information at his disposal showed that Portugal had “a number of dormant terror cells” with terrorists using the country as a logistical support centre for terrorists planning attacks elsewhere on the planet.
Pathé Duarte, Professor Higher Institute of Police Sciences and Homeland Security and at the Higher Institute for Business Communication in Lisbon, this week told online news portal Observador that the events of recent days once again underline that Portugal is being used a stop-over or a point of retreat for terrorists.
The risk of suffering a terrorist attack has been placed at “moderate” by Portuguese secret services, which is the second lowest on a scale of five.
While the first potential Portuguese Jihadists were first tracked back in 2012, with reference made to them in the Annual Internal Safety Report, it is not believed that any of them have returned to Portugal.
Portugal’s PJ police recently told The Portugal News the country has an excellent record in neutralising threats to domestic safety, and will continue to do so with Isis.
“Over the years, we have dealt effectively with extremist groups. From the extreme left-wing in the late 1970s and early 1980s, to the Eastern European mafia in the late 1990s to the dismantling of ETA operations in Portugal”, the PJ police source reasoned, saying the Portuguese can expect the same efficiency should Isis become a credible threat to internal security.
The PJ police source concluded by saying that “Portugal has a small, but very well integrated Muslim community and is one that we do not consider to pose any risks to national safety.”