Man guilty of trying to buy weapons in terror plot
TAMPA, Florida (AP) — A U.S. man was convicted Tuesday of trying to buy weapons for what authorities say was a planned terror attack on a Florida casino and bar.
A federal jury found Sami Osmakac guilty of possessing an unregistered automatic weapon and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He faces life in prison at an Oct. 7 sentencing.
The 27-year-old was arrested in 2012 after authorities said he tried to buy weapons, including a car bomb and an AK-47, from an undercover agent he thought was an arms dealer.
During closing arguments, federal prosecutor Sara Sweeney said Osmakac wanted to remotely detonate a car bomb near a Tampa Irish pub, then take hostages and start a shootout at the Hard Rock Casino in order to get Muslim prisoners released. He then was going to blow himself up when police closed in on him, Sweeney said.
During the trial, jurors heard from psychiatrists who said Osmakac is mentally ill.
Prosecutors played videos recorded by a confidential informant. In one of the recordings, Osmakac referred to blowing up bridges over Tampa Bay.
Defense lawyers said he was manipulated by the FBI and a paid informant.
“The FBI said anything they want to Sami, and he believed them,” said George Tragos, Osmakac’s attorney. “He had no idea what was going on.”
A psychologist retained by Osmakac’s attorneys testified last week that Osmakac began to suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after a turbulent airplane ride in 2009. Mental health experts also said Osmakac suffered from depression.
Prosecutors said in March 2011, six months before the undercover investigation began, Osmakac quit his job in a pharmacy and traveled overseas with the idea of waging jihad against the “oppressors,” his name for American and NATO troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he was unable to enter either country, partly because he didn’t have the proper visa.