The man accused by U.S. authorities of plotting to bomb Florida nightclubs and a sheriff’s office met with radical Islamists during visits to his native Kosovo.
TAMPA BAY (H/T Branko) Leaders in the local Muslim community urge caution, saying it is important for the courts to determine if Osmakac posed a real threat or was just a big talker entrapped by the FBI.
“Would there have been any real plot without the support and assistance of the FBI?” asked Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, who had been briefed by authorities before the arrest was announced.
Osmakac, 25, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pinellas Park and a native of Kosovo, was arrested on Saturday and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He is accused in a federal complaint of plotting to obtain weapons and explosives for a car bomb to carry out attacks in Tampa.
Unbeknownst to Osmakac, he sought the weapons from an undercover FBI agent introduced to him by his employer, who was an informer for the FBI.
On Osmakac’s shifting list of targets, the complaint said, were an Irish pub in South Tampa, later identified as MacDinton’s, nightclubs in Ybor City, a Hillsborough County sheriff’s operations center and Tampa Bay bridges. He said he wanted to instill terror in his victims’ hearts, calling it “payback” for wrongs done to Muslims, an arrest affidavit said.
Osmakac was involved in other incidents documented by police.
On April 16, Tampa police said, he admitted head-butting a man outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum before a concert by Lady Gaga. The man had taunted Osmakac, who was dressed in Muslim garb, police said. Osmakac said he was defending himself. In October 2009, St. Petersburg police said, Osmakac assaulted a 17-year-old at his family’s bakery because the teen had told Osmakac his clothes were “sexy.” The FBI investigation of Osmakac’s supposed terrorist plot began Sept. 28 when a confidential informer called the FBI to tell them Osmakac had come into his or her business trying to find flags representing al-Qaida, an arrest affidavit said.
What followed were escalating plans by Osmakac to bring terror to Tampa, authorities said. Osmakac talked to the informer about potential targets in Tampa and said he needed help getting weapons and explosives, the arrest affidavit said, Osmakac, the FBI said, told the undercover agent he wanted to obtain an explosive belt, grenades, an AK-47 and an Uzi, along with high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Osmakac also asked the agent if he could make three car bombs, the FBI said. The FBI said Osmakac planned a night attack. “I want to do something . . . terrifying, like one day, one night, something’s going to happen, then six hours later, something else,” he said, according to the affidavit.
Osmakac talked of taking hostages after the initial attack, suggesting he would blow up himself and his hostages. Osmakac said he would have preferred attacking “Army people . . . but their bases are so locked up, I have to do something else.”
On Saturday, the undercover agent showed Osmakac the car bomb and various weapons, the FBI said. None were operative. Osmakac asked the agent to videotape him making a statement in a hotel room, the FBI said. Osmakac sat cross-legged on the floor, with a pistol in hand and an AK-47 behind him. He talked about Muslim blood being more valuable than the blood of unbelievers, the FBI said.
Later, the undercover agent showed Osmakac how to arm and detonate the car bomb, helping place it in the trunk of Osmakac’s car, the affidavit said.
Seattle Times International agencies had alerted Kosovo authorities that Sami Osmakac could be linked to Islamist extremists, the official told The Associated Press. He said the 25-year-old, an ethnic Albanian and naturalized U.S. citizen, discussed “issues in support of radical elements” with the individuals he met.
Before his arrest, Osmakac recorded an eight-minute video explaining why he wanted to bring terror to his “victims’ hearts,” according to a federal complaint. Online videos have also emerged that show Osmakac railing against Christians, Jews and Western living.
Sami Osmakac stood in front of a Tampa church one night in 2010, ranting for 13 minutes about Christianity and the evils of the secular world. “What’s the matter with you?” asked Osmakac in a video later posted on YouTube. “Trying to follow their ways? Trying to go to nightclubs, like them? Trying to fornicate, like them? Trying to get with their women? … Submit to the rule of Allah.”