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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Crime & Courts

Jurors see FBI video detailing Osmakac's terror plot

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Published:   |   Updated: May 31, 2014 at 12:52 PM

— When it comes to information about explosives, the undercover FBI agent said he was making it up as he went along.

The agent, who is using the name “Amir” in court, was being questioned by Sami Osmakac's defense lawyer, George Tragos, who says the government entrapped Osmakac into trying to launch a terrorist attack on Tampa.

The prosecution says Osmakac planned to explode a car bomb outside a busy MacDinton's Irish Pub on South Howard and then go to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, where he planned to launch an attack with firearms and homemade grenades. The plan was to demand the release of Muslim prisoners, and after that was accomplished, to feign surrender so he could detonate a suicide vest as law enforcement closed in.

Tragos has called the agent and an informant slick and sophisticated enough to get Osmakac to try to wreak mayhem on American soil when all he really wanted to do was go overseas to fight U.S. and NATO troops in defense of his extremist Islamic beliefs.

The agent testified he's been involved in 35 undercover operations, five of which involved Islamic extremists and national security. He said he is not Muslim, nor is any member of his family. His training, he said, did not focus on the Muslim culture but did include information about extremists and how they think.

He also said he's not a munitions expert. When he showed Osmakac how to use a suicide vest, a gun, a car bomb and homemade grenades, he said he was merely repeating what he had been told by someone else before his meeting with Osmakac.

He testified that when he explained to Osmakac the difference between high-intensity and low-intensity explosives, he was just making it up as he went along.

In several recordings played for jurors, the agent says an occasional Arabic phrase in response to Osmakac but largely lets Osmakac do the talking.

So when Oskmakac went on at length about different countries in the Middle East and how they followed or didn't abide by Muslim principles and how even the toenail of a Muslim was “better than a world of disbelievers,” the agent said only, “Check the history, though, bro, we are, our people ruled this planet once upon a time.”

The comment was as deep into religious or political discourse as “Amir” ever got in his dealings with Osmakac, who freely and repeatedly relayed his own point of view.

“Yeah,” Osmakac responded to the agent's comment. “We will again. It's guaranteed. Victory is ours. We wanna secure victory; we want shahada (martyrdom); we don't wanna die in bed or a car accident.”

Jurors on Friday saw recordings made of Osmakac and the agent on Jan. 7, 2012, just before he was arrested. The two met in a hotel parking lot and then went into the room, where the agent showed Osmakac how to wear the “suicide vest” and a vest full of ammunition for the fully automatic AK-47. The agent instructed Osmakac in the use of the grenades, which were inert.

Then Osmakac gave the agent a small video camera and asked him to film. Jurors previously viewed the martyrdom video, and on Friday, they saw a video of the agent holding the camera while Osmakac practiced. They saw Osmakac decide to wear the two vests and hold the handgun. He propped the machine gun against the door behind him and then sat on the floor.

“One point five million and more people died even before the war started,” he said, looking at the camera. “We will go after every one of them, their kindergartens, their shopping centers, their night clubs, their police stations, their court houses and everything.''

“I think so,” the agent said.

After the exhange of weapons and the lesson on how to use it, the two went outside to the parking lot, where another camera filmed them from a window.

They can be seen removing the components of the “car bomb” from the agent's pickup truck and placing them in the trunk of Osmakac's car. Then the agent pulls away.

As Osmakac backs out, the flashing lights of law enforcement vehicles becomes visible and the recording ends just before Osmakac is arrested.

esilvestrini@tampatrib.com

813-259-7837

Twitter: @ElaineTBO

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