TAMPA – Sami Osmakac, 25, was arrested in the parking lot of a Tampa hotel on Jan. 7 for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Osmakac, a naturalized citizen who was born in Yugoslavia and lives in Pinellas Park, had been scheming to carry out “something terrifying,” he said, according to arrest affidavit. He reportedly hoped to pull off a multi-step attack in Tampa, taking hostages, blowing up buildings, and killing people with an AK-47, a pistol, grenades and an explosive belt.
What Osmakac didn’t know was that he was explaining these plans to an FBI undercover agent and a FBI informant who tipped off the agency as soon as Osmakac came to the informant’s business in September, looking for flags representing Al Qaeda.
The FBI Tampa Division investigated the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida announced the charge against Osmakac on Jan. 9 in a press release.
“The facts as alleged in this case underscore the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad. Thanks to a coordinated law enforcement effort, this alleged plot was thwarted before anyone was harmed,” Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general for national security, stated in the release.
Osmakac made his initial appearance in federal court in Tampa at 2 p.m. on Jan. 9.
Before attempting to carry out his plans, Osmakac reportedly recorded an eight-minute video. He wanted to “pay back” the wrongs done to Muslims.
Less than a week before, the FBI undercover agent asked Osmakac, if he was sure he wanted to go through this his plans. Osmakac immediately shook his head, the arrest affidavit stated.
“We all have to die, so why not die the Islamic way?” he said.
The FBI recorded several meetings between Osmakac, the agency’s informant and the undercover employee between Nov. 30 and the day Osmakac was arrested on Jan. 7, according to the affidavit. In the first recording meeting, Osmakac asked the informant to help him get firearms and a belt with explosives. The informant told Osmakac that he knew someone that could help him and put him in contact with the FBI employee.
During a few meetings in December, Osmakac discussed his plans with his weapons contact, who, unbeknownst to him, was the undercover FBI employee. He said wanted at least one AK-47, a “couple of Uzis,” explosives and a belt with high intensity explosives that would rip flesh. He needed his contact to show him how to use all the weapons except the AK-47 because he didn’t “trust” his Internet connection and couldn’t use it to research.
He also asked for explosives for three different vehicles that could be detonated remotely while Osmakac conducted an attack elsewhere. The undercover agent said he could get one vehicle-born improvised explosive device that would go in the trunk of a vehicle and detonate with a cellphone.
Osmakac outlined more specific plans during a meeting on Jan. 1.
“I want to do something, something terrifying. Like, one day, one night, something’s going to happen. Then, six hours later, something else,” he told the undercover agent.
His attacks, he explained would defy “all this money” the United States was spending on homeland security.
“All this, this is going to be crushing them. This going to terrify them,” he said.
He had several ideas for targets. The bomb-rigged vehicle he would park in front of the Operations Center of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Ybor City, asking his contact if the bomb would “take down a police station.” He asked if the bomb would “take down buildings” and “kill people inside.”
“That’s what I’ll do,” Osmakac said when the contact told him it would.
He also wanted to target the “Army people,” but “their bases are so locked up.” He talked about a plan to “take down the bridges” across Tampa Bay in a simultaneous attack with multiple people.
“This will crust the whole economy,” he said. “This would crush everything. Man, they would have no more food coming in. They would, nobody would have work.”
His plans were thwarted by one thing, he said.
“I made many plans, but there’s not enough people. I even wasted, like, my energy debating and talking and trying (to) inspire them,” he is recorded saying.
At one point, Osmakac said he wanted to contact specifically the FBI to “demand something,” using hostages as leverage.
Later, the undercover agent told Osmakac that he could still change his mind.
“You haven’t lived half your life yet, bro,” he said, according to the affidavit. “You don’t want to have kids, take a wife, have children?”
Osmakac told his contact that Allah allows people to have children in Jannah, the Islamic paradise afterlife. He said he didn’t want to meet with the contact again until the weapons were ready to be delivered.
Via text messages on cellphones registered under fake names and a handwritten note, Osmakac agreed to meet the undercover agent on Jan. 7, at a Tampa hotel left unspecified in the report. All the delivered weapons – grenades, an AK-47, ammunition, an explosive belt and a pistol – were not functional. Osmakac was closely monitored by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public, the press release on his arrest stated.
Before leaving for the attempted attack, Osmakac asked the FBI informant, who was employing Osmakac at his business, to film him on a video camera. In the video, Osmakac sat cross-legged on the floor, holding the pistol and displaying AK-47 behind them.
Muslim blood was more valuable than that of those who don’t believe in Islam, he told the camera, explaining a need for vengeance.
He later explained that he had changed his target from Ybor City, because there were too many police officers in the area. His new target was an Irish bar, “whose name he could not remember, but he described it as playing music all night,” the affidavit read.
He parked a getaway vehicle, a silver minivan, at the intersection of South Howard Avenue and West Swann Avenue in south Tampa, within blocks to at least one Irish bar that matched his description. His plan was return back to the hotel before conducting the second phase of his attack.
Back in the parking lot of the hotel, Osmakac put the loaded pistol in the glove compartment of a green Honda Accord. The undercover employee loaded the device that Osmakac believed was a bomb into the trunk of the car and showed him how to arm it. He gave him the key to the hotel room where the rest of the weapons were stored and drove away.
Osmakac “armed” the bomb and got into his vehicle. As he started the car and put it into reverse, he was arrested.
“The perseverance and diligence of law enforcement caused this investigation to conclude in a successful manner,” U.S. Robert E. Attorney O’Neill stated. “This investigation was also predicated, in part, by assistance from the Muslim community. I would like to thank them as well.”