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Terror suspect Sami Osmakac pleads not guilty

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:55 PM

A 25-year-old Pinellas Park man arrested last month in an alleged terrorist plot pleaded not guilty today to federal terrorism charges.

Sami Osmakac faces up to life behind bars if convicted of charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered machine gun.

Osmakac, a naturalized citizen born in Kosovo, was arrested as part of an undercover sting by the FBI after authorities said he planned to attack a populated Tampa night spot, then take hostages and demand the release of Muslim prisoners.

"I want to do something terrifying," he said, according to a federal complaint, "like one day, one night, something's going to happen. Then six hours later, something else."

Osmakac's attorney, public defender Alec Hall, entered Osmakac's not guilty plea on the court docket, eliminating the need for an arraignment, which had been scheduled for next week.

Local Muslim leaders disavowed Osmakac, saying he was banned from at least two local mosques for his radical views.

Osmakac's intended target shifted during the investigation, which spanned several months, at times involving government buildings, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office operations center in Ybor City and, ultimately, a pub in South Tampa, apparently MacDinton's, authorities said.

Osmakac was taken into custody after an FBI sting in which he tried to buy explosives, at least 10 grenades, Uzis and an AK-47, authorities said.

If convicted, Osmakac faces life in federal prison.