Federal Police Continue to Monitor Terrorist Suspects in Brazil
By César Modesto/Diálogo July 27, 2016
Brazil’s Federal Police (PF, for its Portuguese acronym)
continues to monitor individuals suspected of sympathizing with and taking
action on behalf of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS (Islamic State of
Iraq and Syria) or Daesh, on the eve of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which begin
on August 5th.
On July 21st, 12 people were arrested as part of Operation
Hashtag, deployed by the PF in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Ceará, Goiás,
Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul,
and São Paulo.
The operation's goal was to break up a group showing clear
signs that it intended to commit terrorist attacks and other criminal actions
during Rio 2016. This is the first counterterrorism police operation in Brazil
after Law 13,260/2016 was made public at the beginning of this year, providing
for the investigation, processing, and reformulation of the approach to
All told, 14 people were targeted during the operation:
Alisson Luan de Oliveira; Antonio Andrade dos Santos Junior; Daniel Freitas
Baltazar; Hortencio Yoshitake; Israel Pedra Mesquita; Leandro França de
Oliveira; Leonid El Kadre de Melo; Levi Ribeiro Fernandes de Jesus; Marco Mario
Duarte; Mohamad Mounir Zakaria; Oziris Moris Lundi dos Santos Azevedo; Valdir
Pereira da Rocha; Vitor Barbosa Magalhães, and an adolescent whose identity has
The names are part of the 10 percent who stood out most to
police because of the content that they had browsed and shared on the Internet,
such as assassinations and preparatory acts for possible attacks, like bomb-making.
The other 90 percent are being monitored for having
exhibited suspicious behavior by visiting websites and propaganda that support
extremist acts and groups, like ISIS, Al-Qaida, and Hezbollah, on more than two
The 12 detainees were transferred to a maximum security
federal prison located in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul. The prison is
currently home to the most dangerous of criminals, like the Brazilian drug lord
Fernandinho Beira-Mar, and previously housed Colombian drug dealer Juan Carlos
The suspects are expected to be individually charged
according to their involvement in the crimes of promoting a terrorist
organization and engaging in preparatory acts of terrorism, both provided for
in the new law. The penalty for the first crime is a fiveto-eight year prison
sentence plus a fine, while those who carry out preparatory acts are given
sentences varying from three to 15 years in prison.
dreaming of paradise
According to the prosecutor in charge of Operation Hashtag,
Rafael Brum Miron, the individuals suspected of associating with terrorism
stated that the Olympics were an opportunity for them to get to paradise.
"They were all very aggressive and said the same thing:
'we have to kill infidels, take advantage of the Olympics to get to paradise'
and were sending videos of killings. And they also shared instructions and
formulas amongst themselves for making bombs," Miron said, in an interview
with the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.
Also according to the prosecutor, the suspects had
emphasized the need to act on their own as "lone wolves." Despite
this fact, the investigation noted that the group did not have funding nor
would it be able to act immediately. "None of them was wealthy; they didn't
have any funds. They wanted to travel to Syria and also didn't have any
money," said Miron, who had collaborative assistance from the FBI,
America's federal police.
Despite being deemed amateurs by Brazilian ministers
Alexandre de Moraes (Justice) and Raul Jungmann (Defense), prosecutor Miron
emphasized that this doesn't mean that the suspects did not pose a threat.
"Until the end of the Olympic Games, on August 21st, all of the nearly 90
suspects will be monitored," he said.
The only case considered delicate by the BFP involves a
French-Algerian physicist and former professor at the Federal University of Rio
de Janeiro (UFRJ), Adlène Hicheur, who served two years and seven months in
jail in France for "association with criminals seeking to plan a terrorist
attack," supposedly involved with Al-Qaida.
In 2013, he arrived in Brazil to work as a visiting
professor at UFRJ and, in January of this year, he made the cover of the
magazine Época, under the headline "A Terrorist in Brazil", before
being deported to France by the Brazilian government on July 15th.
The PF Counterterrorism Division's investigations began in
April of this year, and involved 130 agents who issued 12 arrest warrants, 14
search and seizure orders, and two bench warrants (when suspects are taken
against their will before police or court authorities).
Below are the profiles of those suspected of sympathizing
with and engaging in preparatory acts for terrorist attacks in Brazil during
the Rio 2016 Olympic Games:
Levi Ribeiro Fernandes de Jesus, 21 years old, baptized
Muhammad Ali Huraia after converting to Islam. Minister Alexandre de Moraes has
named him the group's leader. A native of Guarulhos, São Paulo, he moved to
Colombo, Paraná, and worked at a supermarket in Curitiba.
Leonid El Kadre de Melo – baptized Abu Khalled – served six
years in prison for theft and homicide and lived in Vila Bela da Santíssima
Trindade, Mato Grosso, where he was a construction worker.
Valdir Pereira da Rocha, baptized Mahmoud, was arrested in
Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade, Mato Grosso. He is a personal friend of
Leonid de Melo, who also served six years in prison for theft and homicide.
Lebanese citizen Mohamad Mounir Zakaria was arrested in São
Paulo, where he owned a clothing store. Separated and father to three children,
he worked as a sales representative and frequented the Pari Mosque, which has
the largest number of Muslim mosque-goers in Brazil.
Twenty-seven-year-old Oziris Moris Lundi dos Santos Azevedo,
baptized Ali Lundi, is a native of and was arrested in Manaus, Amazonas. He
worked at the Integrated Center of Security Operations of Amazonia for two
years, before quitting his job in April.
Thirty-four-year-old Antonio Andrade dos Santos Junior,
baptized Antonio Ahmed Andrade at the time of his conversion to Islam in 2000,
was arrested in João Pessoa, Paraíba. He is a boxer and is considered to
espouse radical interpretations of the Islamic religion.
Alisson Luan de Oliveira is 19 years old and was arrested in
Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro. Considered an introspective young man, he has
practiced Islam for two years, and worked with computer recycling.
Twenty-three-year-old Vitor Barbosa Magalhães,baptized Vitor
Abdullah, was arrested in Guarulhos, São Paulo, is a tinsmith, and worked at a
car repair shop with his father. He learned Arabic on a trip he took to Egypt
in 2012, and gave lessons on the language.
A native of Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Israel Pedra
Mesquita was arrested in Morro Redondo, in the same state, where he had just
moved to 20 days prior. He raised animals for sale and his own consumption
throughout his entire life.
Marco Mario Duarte is 42 years old, was baptized Zaid
Duarte, was born in São Luís, Maranhão, and was arrested in Amparo, São Paulo.
He has ties to the blog “Islam Maranhão.” He plays rugby and paintball, in
addition to working at a restaurant.
The other suspects are Daniel Freitas Baltazar, who has gone
by the pseudonym Caio Pereira; Hortencio Yoshitake, also known as Teo Yoshi;
and Leandro França de Oliveira, whose information was not disclosed by the