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Sunday, Sep 21, 2014
Crime & Courts

Jury hears Osmakac, informant discuss terror plan

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Published:   |   Updated: June 3, 2014 at 09:57 PM

— Weeks before he is accused of trying to launch a terrorist attack in Tampa, Sami Osmakac predicted a “second 9/11,” according to evidence presented in federal court Tuesday.

Osmakac is standing trial on charges of attempting to possess weapons of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered machine gun. The prosecution alleges he planned to wreak havoc in Tampa by detonating a car bomb outside a busy South Tampa pub and then using grenades, a machine gun and a suicide bomb at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.

After Osmakac was arrested, an FBI agent asked him what he had in mind taking a vehicle loaded with explosives to Hyde Park.

“Islam,’’ Osmakac responded, according to the agent.

The defense is arguing that Osmakac’s radical Islamic beliefs and mental illness were exploited by an informant and an undercover FBI agent, who entrapped him into trying to harm people on U.S. soil, which he never intended to do.

The informant, who the FBI paid $24,000, including expenses, will not testify at the trial. The prosecution has said he is in Israel being treated for leukemia.

But jurors Tuesday heard from him on tape as the prosecution played recordings of conversations between Osmakac and the man who owned a Pinellas County store where Osmakac worked.

In the recordings played for jurors, the informant mostly appears to be arguing with Osmakac, telling him he is “crazy” and disagreeing with some of his extremist views on Islam, while also arranging for him to meet with the undercover agent, who was posing as an arms dealer.

In one clip, however, the informant can be heard talking to FBI agents, telling them he’s going to “control” Osmakac. This clip was played at the request of the defense.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney told U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven that the statement referred to difficulties recording Osmakac’s voice. Sweeney said the informant was merely telling agents he was going to stop Osmakac from moving around. In the clip, there are references to the placement of a recording device.

The recordings also capture Osmakac saying the world needs to be controlled by Sharia law, and that democracy is “evil” and worse than Christianity. He calls the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas infidels because they are willing to abide by man-made laws. He also rails against Jews, who he says own international banks and YouTube.

And he talks about being followed by government surveillance, including a plane he says circles around wherever he is, including the beach. He calls the government “paranoid” about him.

An FBI agent has testified that Osmakac was under surveillance for some length of time, including from the air.

esilvestrini@tampatrib.com

813-259-7837

Twitter: @ElaineTBO

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