A federal jury found in Tampa convicted a radical Muslim Tuesday for plotting to attack multiple targets with a vehicle bomb, assault rifle and other explosives. Sami Osmakac, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo), was convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered machine gun. His intended targets included a popular pub near downtown Tampa and the Hard Rock Casino.
Evidence presented during his three-week trial showed that Osmakac was inspired by radical Islamist ideology. In a recorded conversation with a government informant, Osmakac expressed his desire to die for the cause of Islam: "We all have to die, so why not die the Islamic way?" When the informant told Osmakac that "you haven't lived half your life yet, bro….you don't want to have kids, take a wife, have children?" he responded saying, "Allah allows people to have children in Jannah ["Paradise" in Arabic].
Jurors also saw a surveillance video showing Osmakac and an undercover FBI agent "going over guns, grenades and ammunition, and Osmakac trying on ammunition vests." The undercover agent also videotaped Osmakac explaining his motives to wage violent jihad. In the eight-minute video, Osmakac sat "cross-legged on the floor of the hotel room, with the pistol in his hand and the AK-47 displayed behind him." He "stated his belief that Muslims 'blood' was more valuable than that of people who do not believe in Islam. He also stated that he wanted 'pay back' for wrongs he felt were done to Muslims."
Some officials of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) criticized the case against Osmakac, alleging government entrapment. "Not enough terrorists to go around so we have to find mentally disturbed individuals and create them," CAIR Tampa director Hassan Shibly wrote in a Facebook posting.
After the videos were played in court, Shibly absolved Osmakac of responsibility, calling him a "mentally disturbed youth." The presiding judge previously rejected claims Osmakac was not mentally competent to stand trial.
Following Osmakac's January 2012 arrest, Shibly accused the government of wrongdoing. "The weapons and explosives were provided by the government. Was he just a troubled individual, or did he pose a real threat," he said. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times later the same day, he wondered, "Would there have been any real plot without the support and assistance of the FBI?"
Several other CAIR officials issued similar statements dismissive of the case.
Osmakac's sentencing is scheduled for October 7. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.