House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., was one of the first members of Congress to react to news on Monday of the arrest of a Tampa, Fla., area resident in the alleged plotting of several terrorist attacks throughout the Tampa area.
“This foiled plot is a disturbing reminder that we must remain vigilant against terrorism not only abroad, but in our own backyards,” said Bilirakis, who represents part of the Tampa Bay area, in a statement.
In announcing the arrest of Sami Osmakac, 25, of Pinellas Park, Fla., federal authorities in the state's Middle District described it as the culmination of several months of undercover monitoring. Osmakac, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born in the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo).
FBI agents arrested Osmakac on Saturday night after he took possession of explosive devices and firearms that had already been rendered inoperable by law enforcement, federal authorities said. Shortly before his arrest, Osmakac made a video of himself explaining his motives for carrying out the planned attack, according to authorities said.
Osmakac is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in Tampa at 2 p.m. on Monday. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A complaint affidavit details how the FBI first received information from a confidential source regarding Osmakac in September 2011, indicating that he had asked the source for al-Qaida flags. In November 2011, Osmakac and the sources discussed and identified potential targets in Tampa, where Osmakac intended on carrying out attacks, according to the complaint.
The document says that Osmakac eventually met in person with the undercover FBI employee on Dec. 21, 2011, and stated that he wished to acquire an AK-47-style machine gun, Uzi submachine guns, grenades, and an explosive belt. In a subsequent meeting, Osmakac provided the undercover FBI employee with a $500 down payment for an AK-47, multiple homemade explosive grenades, and the explosive belt, the complaint says.
During a meeting with the FBI undercover employee on Jan. 1, Osmakac then described his attack plans, according to federal authorities, stating that he wanted to obtain a hotel room, park a vehicle with the bomb in it at his target, leave the area and detonate the car bomb, and then retrieve the weapons and explosives from the hotel room. Among Osmakac’s alleged bomb targets were night clubs in the Ybor City area of Tampa, the Operations Center of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Ybor City, and a business in the South Tampa area.