TAMPA – A Kosovo-born man was charged with plotting to attack Tampa-area nightclubs and a sheriff’s office with bombs and an assault rifle to avenge wrongs done to Muslims, federal
authorities said Monday.
According to a federalcomplaint, 25-year-old SamiOsmakac recorded aneight-minute video shortly before
his arrest explaining why he wanted to bring terror to his “victims’ hearts” in the Tampa Bay area. Osmakac is a naturalized American citizen born in Kosovo, then part of the former Yugoslavia in eastern Europe.
In the video, Osmakac is seen cross-legged on the floor with a pistol in his hand and an AK-47 behind him. Osmakac said in the video that Muslim blood was more valuablethan that of people who do not believe in Islam, according to the complaint. He said he wanted”payback” for wrong that was done to Muslims, according to thecomplaint.
There is no indication that Osmakac planned to attack the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Tampa in August, federal authorities said.
The area’s Muslim community helped provide authorities withinformation, said Steve Ibison, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa division.
“This case is not about the Muslim religion and it’s not about the Muslim community,” Ibison said. “It’s about an individual who committeda crime.”
Hassan Shibly, a Tampa attorney and the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he met Osmakac briefly over the summer. Osmakac was “ranting” about how CAIR was an “infidel organization,” Shibly said.
“It was very clear he was very disturbed, very angry and verymisguided about the Islamic faith,” Shibly said, adding that Osmakac did not appear to be a member of any of the area’s mosques and had “disassociated himself” from those houses of worship. “He was very, very ignorant of Islam. He didn’t know Arabic or anything about basic Islamic teachings aboutpromoting peace.”
Shibly said the CAIR office received calls from people in the Islamic community who were concerned about Osmakac’s extreme views.
“Contact the authorities as soon as possible,” Shibly said he told those people.
Osmakac gave only brief answers to basic questionsduring his first appearance in federal
court Monday. He wore a blue jailoutfit and was shackled at his wrists and ankles. His public defender, Alec Hall, declined to comment afterward.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli ordered Osmakac held without bail. If convicted on the single count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, Osmakac could face life in prison.
Osmakac was arrested Saturday – the day officials said he was planning his attack – after he
allegedly bought explosive devices and firearms from an undercover agent. The firearms and explosives were disabled before the sale.
According to public records, Osmakac had one prior brush with the law. In April 2011, Tampa Police said Osmakac, dressed in “what appeared to be traditionalMiddle-Eastern attire with a small cloth” on his head, got into anargument over religion outside a Lady Gaga concert.