Brazil deports Hamas ‘operative,’ family after being alerted by US authorities

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil has deported a Palestinian man and his family after Brazilian federal police were alerted by the United States that a “Hamas operative” was traveling to the South American country, according to Brazilian authorities.

Muslim Abuumar along with his pregnant wife, son and mother-in-law, were detained on Friday entering the country at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport and put on a Qatar Airways flight back to Doha two days later, Brazilian police sources tell Reuters.

“The request came from the US Department of State,” a senior federal police officer says. “It was proven before a judge that (Abuumar) was deeply involved with Hamas.”

A federal judge in Sao Paulo stopped the deportation yesterday to request information from the police, which when provided led her to approve deporting Abuumar and his family.

Judge Milenna da Cunha, in her decision seen by Reuters, says Brazilian federal police received an alert via the US embassy that “a Hamas operative, Muslim Abuumar” would be arriving in Brazil from Kuala Lumpur.

According to an injunction filed by Abuumar’s lawyer, Bruno Henrique de Moura, the Palestinian family was detained by police on entry at Guarulhos airport without a warrant. It says they were coming to visit his brother who lives in Brazil.

Brazilian police sources, however, say Abuumar was not coming for a visit but to stay in Brazil and become a spokesman for Hamas. Once source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the large amount of luggage he brought with his family showed he was planning to stay longer.

Abuumar, 37, is executive director of the Asia Middle East Center, and his wife is Malaysian and his children Malaysian-born, the injunction filed by his lawyer says.

A police source says Abuumar had first flown to Brazil last year, arriving on January 1, the day leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn into office for a new term.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a ministerial meeting to discuss infrastructure investment projects at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on November 3, 2023. (Evaristo Sa/AFP)

Lula defends a two-state solution for the Palestinian conflict and has condemned Israel for its war on Hamas in Gaza, sparked by the terror group’s brutal October 7 massacre.

The Palestine Liberation Organization has had a representative in Brasilia since Brazil recognized Palestinian statehood in 1975, and Lula’s government allowed a Palestinian embassy to be built in the Brazilian capital in 2010 at the end of his second term as president.

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