A Florida man with roots in Kosovo was arrested for allegedly plotting a two-phase suicide-bomb attack on multiple Tampa-area locations including a Hillsborough County Sheriff's operations center.
Sami Osmakac, 25, of Pinellas Park, has been charged in the alleged plot to use an assault rifle, vehicle bomb, and other explosives. Other targets included an Irish pub in South Tampa, nightclubs in Ybor City, and Tampa Bay bridges.
Osmakac was arrested Saturday night and charged with one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. If convicted, he faces life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Prior to his arrest, law enforcement officials had monitored Osmakac for several months after members of the Muslim community notified the FBI, U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill said in a release.
The FBI was first notified in September that Osmakac had asked for al Qaeda flags from an FBI informant. In November, Osmakac and the informant discussed and identified potential targets in Tampa, where Osmakac intended to carry out violent attacks.
Osmakac then met with an undercover FBI employee on Dec. 21, and said that he wished to acquire an AK-47 machine gun, Uzi sub-machine guns, high-capacity magazines, grenades, and an explosive belt. In a subsequent meeting, Osmakac allegedly provided the undercover FBI employee with a $500 down payment for an AK-47, multiple homemade explosive grenades, and the explosive belt.
Osmakac also asked the undercover employee to help build bombs that could be placed in three different vehicles and detonated remotely, near where Osmakac would conduct a follow-up attack using the other weapons he requested. Osmakac also allegedly said that he wanted an explosive belt constructed to kill people.
In a Jan. 1 meeting with the FBI undercover employee, Osmakac allegedly described his attack plans by stating that he wanted to obtain a hotel room; park the bomb-laden vehicle at his target; leave the area; detonate the car bomb; and then retrieve the weapons and explosives from the hotel room.
As part of the second portion of his planned attack, Osmakac said that after the car bomb was detonated, he wanted to use the explosive belt to "get in somewhere where there's a lot of people" and take hostages. He allegedly said he would then make demands of the FBI to release some prisoners. According to the criminal complaint, when discussing law enforcement officers that might respond to the scene, Osmakac stated, "once I have this, they can take me in 5 million pieces," referencing the explosive belt that would be attached to his waist.
After being told he could back out of the plot on Jan. 1, Osmakac shook his head no and said, "We all have to die, so why not die the Islamic way?"
FBI agents arrested Osmakac on Jan. 7 after he took possession of the explosive devices and firearms that had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement.
Shortly prior to his arrest, Osmakac made a YouTube video of himself explaining his motives for carrying out the planned violent attack. In the video, reports the Miami Herald, he asked, "What's the matter with you? 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."