By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Eight men accused of being part of a terrorist organization and threatening the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro were convicted on Thursday in Curitiba, Brazil on the charges of promoting a criminal organization, recruitment for the practice of acts of terrorism and criminal association.
“The content obtained (from the investigation) ranges between the exaltation and celebration of terrorist acts already carried out all over the world, to postings of videos and photos of public executions of people by the Islamic State, to instructions on how to take the oath to the leader of the [bayat] group, and discussions on possible targets for attacks to be carried out in Brazil during the Olympic Games“, stated the verdict by Federal Judge Marcos Josegrei da Silva.
According to the judge, the defendants, Leonid El Kadre de Melo, Alisson Luan de Oliveira, Luis Gustavo de Oliveira and Fernando Pinheiro represent a risk if they are released. The other four, Hortencio Yoshitake, Israel Pedra Mesquita, Levi Ribeiro Fernandes de Jesus and Oziris Moris Lundi dos Santos Azevedo may appeal the sentence in liberty.
According to investigators, the eight Brazilians promoted the terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) through posts in their social networks from March through July of 2016, the months prior to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The operation, dubbed Hashtag, arrested ten people in ten states suspected of planning terrorist attacks in Rio de Janeiro during the Games.
The men, say officials, used closed Facebook groups to share extremist material and to plan attacks on Brazilian territory.
The judge also named Leonid El Kadre de Melo, arrested in July of 2016, as the “supreme leader” among those involved. He was convicted of crimes of promotion of terrorist organization, recruitment for the purpose of committing acts of terrorism and criminal association, for a sentence of 15 years, 10 months and five days.
The others were sentenced to prison terms that ranged from five years and a half to six years and eleven months.