TAMPA – A federal jury found would-be terrorist Sami Osmakac of Pinellas Park guilty of attempted use of weapons of mass destruction June 10.
Osmakac, 27, faces the maximum penalty of life in prison. He was also convicted of possession of a fully automatic firearm, which was not registered to him.
His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 7.
“The jury’s verdict in this case represents another victory in our fight against terrorism, which remains our top priority,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III.
The Muslim community in Pinellas Park was credited to bringing Osmakac’s extremist views to the attention of law enforcement, leading to his eventual arrest Jan. 7, 2012.
“Our success here is due in part to assistance from the Muslim community,” Bentley stated.
Osmakac is a naturalized citizen who was born in Yugoslavia. He had been scheming to do “something terrifying,” according to his arrest affidavit at the time.
According to testimony and evidence presented at his trial, he intended to use a car bomb, grenades and a suicide explosive on two targets: MacDinton’s Irish Pub in the South Howard area of Tampa and the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa.
Prior to settling on those targets, Osmakac made plans to attack the Operations Center of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Ybor City, a military base and all the bridges across Tampa Bay, according to his arrest affidavit.
“All this, this is going to be crushing them. This going to terrify them,” he said, according to the affidavit.
What Osmakac didn’t know was that he was explaining his plans to an FBI undercover agent and an FBI informant, who reported him when Osmakac attempted to buy Al Qaeda flags. Osmakac’s ambitious plans for destroying multiple targets were thwarted by not having enough recruits to back his cause, he told the undercover agent.
On Jan. 7, 2012, Osmakac met the agent at a Tampa hotel. The undercover agent delivered the weapons he had promised Osmakac: grenades, an AK-47, ammunition, an explosive belt, a pistol and a bomb. Osmakac didn’t know that none of them worked, and law enforcement was monitoring him closely.
Before he left, Osmakac asked the informant to film him. Holding a pistol and displaying the AK-47, he told the camera that he sought vengeance and explained that Muslim blood was more valuable than the blood of those who don’t believe in Islam.
He parked a getaway car at the intersection of South Howard Avenue and West Swann Avenue in south Tampa, blocks from MacDinton’s Irish Pub. In the parking lot of the hotel, he “armed” the device he thought was a bomb. However, before he backed out the green Honda Accord he had loaded, he was stopped and arrested.
Osmakac was indicted on Feb. 2, 2012.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara C. Sweeney and Trial Attorney Clement McGovern from the National Security Division at the Department of Justice prosecuted it.