Alleged Tampa bomb plot foiled by FBI


BY HENRY PIERSON CURTIS | MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

ORLANDO, Fla. — A man seeking explosives and weapons for a suicide bomb plot in the Tampa, Fla., area has been arrested by the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sami Osmakac, 25, of Pinellas Park, Fla., was picked up Saturday night after an investigation that began in late September, records show.

Osmakac, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kosovo, is charged with trying to buy an AK-47, submachine guns and enough explosives for multiple car bombs and a 25-pound suicide belt designed to cause the most deaths possible in Ybor City, records show.

According to a charging affidavit, Osmakac claimed in an eight-minute video that he intended to attack an Irish bar as part of the planned mayhem to "pay back" wrongs against Muslims.

In the video filmed by an undercover FBI agent, Osmakac sat cross-legged on the floor while wearing what he believed was the explosive-filled belt, a satchel holding six hand grenades and a vest with AK-47 magazines. He was armed with an assault rifle and a .45-caliber pistol, both rendered inoperable without his knowledge, the affidavit states.

Robert E. O'Neill, U.S. attorney for the middle district of Florida credited members of the region's Muslim community with assisting the undercover investigation that led to Osmakac's arrest. He is expected to appear Monday afternoon in federal court in Tampa, records show.

Osmakac remains held without bail on one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The investigation began Sept. 28 when a Tampa-area business owner working a paid informant told the FBI that Osmakac and another person asked about the availability of al-Qaida flags, records state. The informant subsequently hired Osmakac to work in the unidentified store and recorded conversations about his plans to stage a terrorist attack, records state.

In December, Osmakac met with the undercover agent and made a $500 down payment for an AK-47, multiple magazines, at least 10 hand grenades and an explosive belt, records state. He also said he wanted to buy a bomb that could be detonated with a cellular telephone, records state.

Explaining his plans for the explosive belt, Osmakac said it would be used "to hold people and in case they want to storm whatever I'm trying to do," the affidavit states.

On New Year's Day, Osmakac met the undercover agent and said he intended to place the bomb he ordered in the trunk of his car and detonate it using the cell phone in a crowded area at night. One of the possible targets would be Ybor City with its many nightclubs, the affidavit states.

The described plot included taking hostages after the explosion and demanding the release of unnamed prisoners held by the government. One of the possible targets was the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Operations Center in Ybor City, where Osmakac said he would blow himself up when law enforcement officers responded to the car bomb explosion.

"You know, they saying they like 3 trillion in debt, they like 200 trillion in debt, and after all this money they're spending for homeland security and all this, this is gonna be crushing them," he said in a secretly recorded conversation. "This gonna terrify them."