A 25-year-old naturalized American citizen living in Tampa has been charged in a plot to attack sites in Tampa and take hostages.
Sami Osmakac, who moved to the United States from Kosovo in 2000, was arrested January 7, 2012 in an FBI sting operation after taking possession of what he believed to be explosives and weapons from an undercover agent. He has been charged with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a possible sentence of life imprisonment.
The investigation began in September 2011, when a store owner contacted the FBI about Osmakac's interest in purchasing Al Qaeda flags. Cooperating with the FBI, the owner hired Osmakac and recorded their interactions, during which they discussed possible targets and obtaining firearms and explosives. The owner put Osmakac in touch with an undercover agent.
In meetings with the undercover agent, Osmakac discussed his desire to obtain assault rifles, submachine guns, grenades, explosives and an explosive belt. Osmakac also asked for in-person instruction, claiming he "did not 'trust' his internet connection, so he could not use his computer to research how to" use the weapons, indicating that Osmakac believed his internet activity was being monitored by authorities, according to court documents.
While discussing his plans with the undercover agent, Osmakac said that he wanted "to do something, something terrifying, like one day, one night, something's going to happen, then six hours later, something else." He predicted how "after all this money they're spending for Homeland Security… this [attack] gonna terrify them." He described his intent to use a car bomb to begin the attack and then follow up with a shooting and grenade attack, before taking hostages. He said that would demand the release of prisoners in exchange for his hostages. Osmakac also indicated his readiness to die in the attack, saying "they can take me in five million pieces" and talking about "Jannah" [paradise] and dying "the Islamic way," when the agent if he was sure he wanted to go through with the attacks.
Osmakac discussed possible targets with the store owner and the agent, noting his desire to target bridges in the Tampa area. He claimed that he originally wanted to target the military but decided against it, concluding that "their bases are so locked up, I have to do something else." He also discussed targeting area nightclubs and a sheriff's office before deciding on a local bar.
Osmakac appears to have been self-radicalized, although Kosovar officials stated that he met with Muslim extremists during visits to his native land.
His family has indicated that he became religious after traveling to Turkey in an attempt to reach Saudi Arabia for studies, and that he could not find a religious community that he liked upon his return to Tampa. He was even banned from one local mosque for his radical views. Other acquaintances have said that he was constantly talking about Islam and the Quran. A former classmate said Osmakac had written rap lyrics about bombs and killing Jews.
Osmakac recorded a video in preparation for his imminent attack on the evening of his arrest. Although full details of the video have not been released, court documents indicate that he "stated his belief that Muslims' 'blood' was more valuable than that" of non-Muslims and "that he wanted 'pay back' for wrongs he felt were done to Muslims."
The video described in court documents is similar to a series of videos on a YouTube channel that features an individual who sounds and looks like Osmakac. The individual in the videos is identified as "Abdul Samia," which is reportedly one of several aliases Osmakac has used. The YouTube channel has remained active after Osmakac's arrest.
In these videos, posted between December 2010 and September 2011, "Abdul Samia" criticizes all other religions and secular Muslims. "Abdul Samia" claims that Islam is the only true religion, and that the only purpose in life is submission to Allah. Osmakac may have been referring to the activity in these videos when he confided to the undercover agent that he decided to carry out an attack after wasting his "energy debating and talking and trying [to] inspire" others.
In at least two of the videos, uploaded to the YouTube channel in March 2011, "Abdul Samia" appears with another man who identifies himself as the Muslim convert "Abdullah Abdul-Malik," whose real name is Russell Dennison. The two men are seen debating people in the street about the "truth" of Islam. "Abdul-Malik" says that Jews and Christians "corrupted religion so they could make money, so they could corrupt the earth" and that Jews "killed some prophets." He also describes modes of prayer other than the Muslim way as "idol worship" and calls the people he engaged "evil." "Abdul Samia" calls the people "infidels" and tells them they "will go to hell." He tells them that when Jesus returns he will punish them and destroy the Church.
"Abdul-Malik," who has not been linked to the plot, claims to have rejected violence and applauded the FBI's arrest of his former associate. Nevertheless, he also appears on his own in many videos posted on the same extreme YouTube channel. His messages are similar to those of "Abdul Samia," which are described in greater detail below. For example, "Abdul-Malik" says that Jews and Christians misinterpret their sacred texts and corrupt their religions. He declares that that "if you die in the state you're in, anything other than Islam, prepare yourself for the humiliation and the torment."
In addition to these videos, another video of Osmakac was apparently recorded outside of a concert in April 2011. In the video, Osmakac said that "if ya'll don't accept Islam, ya'll going to hell," and calls democracy evil during a verbal argument with members of the Westboro Baptist Church. The confrontation became physical; Osmakac was arrested charged with battery over the incident.
The following are summaries of the seven videos believed to feature Osmakac speaking under the name "Abdul Samia:"
"A Question for All Christians – What Are You Worshipping"
Uploaded to YouTube December 1, 2010
In this message, "Abdul Samia" insults Christianity and its belief in Jesus's divinity, calling Christians "polytheists… pagans" "sick," and "evil." He compares himself to Jesus as a fellow "slave of Allah." He claims that "only Islam is monotheistic, because we are the true Believers and you are kuffar [infidels]." He declares that any Muslim who accepts Jews and Christians as believers has "has no idea what Islam is" and has abandoned Islam. He asserts that "anybody who rules by a rule other than the rule of Allah is a kaffir [infidel]" and that Muslim community organizations are "working for the kuffar." He blames Jews for deviations in the Abrahamic religions: for corrupting their own, for Paul changing Christianity, and for the heresies in Islam. He calls Jews polytheists for believing in man-made government even though they have monehtiest beliefs. He also affirms his belief that Jews and Christians worship the devil and calls "the Church… the House of the Devil."
In this message directed to Muslims, "Abdul Samia" claims that by following the Western lifestyle, Muslims become polytheists and asks "why do you want to follow the ways of the kuffar?" He says that the key to success is to overcome one's desires by putting trust in Allah and having patience, and promising rewards after Judgment Day for those who suppress their earthly desires. He urges his listeners not to "become like animals, the infidels, the Christians, the Jews, the pagans, the Hindus, the Buddhists and the atheists. They are the worst of creation, they are worse than animals."
In this message addressing Jews, "Abdul Samia" asks "how dare you claim that you are believers?" He says that Jews corrupted the religion by changing the Torah, and that Jews wanted to kill Jesus because he was a Muslim prophet who was sent to correct this corruption. He claims that Paul, a Jew, "changed the Gospel" to protect Jewish interests. He asserts that "Jews… killed all the prophets." He declares that anyone who is rebellious against God is an infidel, even if they are monotheists. He says that Jews are rebellious and compares their behavior to that of the devil, and then labels anyone who does not fight for Islam a supporter of the devil. He pronounces that "the curse of Allah is upon the Jews because you hid the truth, and upon the Christians because they are misled."
In this video, directed primarily towards Christians, "Abdul Samia" describes life as a "journey to the hereafter," which will culminate in either eternal bliss or punishment. This "journey" is a test, which requires the right tools to pass. He questions how Christians can pass this test using the "distorted" bible and asks how many times he will have to deliver his message of "common sense" before people will listen. He says that Christians have no religion and have created manmade holidays to keep themselves attached to disbelief. Without these holidays, he says, Christians would reflect properly on religion and convert to Islam. He concludes by calling on his audience to "come to the truth" and warns them not to "follow the ways of the kuffar."
"Abdul Samia" describes his experiences as he lost his connections to his family and friends as he became more religious and realized that "except for Allah" he was alone. He criticizes how parents try to moderate their children's behavior and speech to fit in with the West, rather than encouraging their children on religious paths. He says that "our life and our death is strictly for Allah," and that everyone is punished in the afterlife except for prophets and martyrs. He indicates that he is worried that his family will not remember him after he dies and that all he will be is a picture in a photo album. He declares that "death is around the corner" and urges his listeners to "get on our deen [religion]" in order to "prepare for death."
In this message to non-Muslims, "Abdul Samia" criticizes Western attitudes towards children, decrying the West's tolerance of abortion and its contravention of God's commands to have large families. He asserts that Westerners have no morals, saying that they would rather "raise dogs" than children. He declares the Islam is the one true religion adding that this is an established fact. He charges that the West is involved in a war against Islam, not a war against extremism. He proclaims this war a Holy War for Muslims, explaining that Muslims "are the only ones with morals, cuz we're the only ones with the truth." He warns Muslims not to "dare to even by word take the side of the kuffar lest you become one of them."
In this message, "Abdul Samia" alleges that if the Torah and Gospels had not been corrupted, nearly everyone on earth would now be a Muslim. He declares that Muslims will only accept the rule of Allah, and must not accept democracy, communism, or fascism. He claims that efforts to combat terrorism constitute a war against God because they target Muslims, whom he says are the true believers. He predicts that the anti-Christ will be a Jewish politician who will unite the Christians and Jews against the Muslims. He calls on his listeners, "Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus," to "wake up!" criticizing them for "worship[ing] a statue that man created… you worship the Creation and not the Creator; how dare you!" He calls on non-Muslims to want the "truth," meaning Islam, and asks God to guide them, but warns "if not, know that the hellfire is prepared already… if you die in any other state other than the state of Islam, you're going to burn for eternity."
In this message, uploaded to YouTube after the investigation into Osmakac began, "Abdul Samia" tells his listeners that they cannot escape death and that they should be prepared for it and put their trust in Allah. He decries what he views as everyone's efforts to please everyone but Allah, in contrast to his belief that the purpose of life is to be a slave to God and to overcome one's earthly desires. He rails against secularism and Western culture, and proclaims that secular Muslims aren't monotheists and have corrupted their creed. He asserts that "this life is nothing, it's just a test" full of Satan's traps. He claims that only by carefully contemplating death and studying it can one cast off the earthly desires and overcome Satan.
Updated: January 17, 2012
The video described in court documents is similar to a series of videos on a YouTube channel that features an individual who sounds and looks like Osmakac. The individual in the videos is identified as "Abdul Samia," which is reportedly one of several aliases Osmakac has used. The YouTube channel has remained active after Osmakac's arrest. In these videos, posted between December 2010 and September 2011, "Abdul Samia" criticizes all other religions and secular Muslims. "Abdul Samia" claims that Islam is the only true religion, and that the only purpose in life is submission to Allah.