TAMPA — Federal prosecutors may expose jurors to the words "terrorist" and "terrorism" at the upcoming trial of Sami Osmakac, a federal judge says.
The Pinellas Park man is accused of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the Tampa Bay area, but his attorney, George E. Tragos, asked for a ban on "terrorist" or similar words, calling them inflammatory and prejudicial.
U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven denied that request Wednesday, saying she will not require prosecutors to obscure Osmakac's alleged motive.
The defendant himself had used such descriptors, she noted from the government's evidence, which quotes him expressing a desire to "terrorize" and to create a "second 9/11."
Osmakac, 27, is accused of planning attacks on local bars and bridges as payback for wrongs he said were done to Muslims. No attack was carried out.
Scriven cited a 2005 1st Circuit appellate court decision relating to use of "terrorist" at a trial of white supremacists. It stated, in part, "That the term is highly pejorative is true — but this is a function of the acts that the defendants engaged in, not the government's inaccurate description of those acts."
Osmakac is scheduled to go to trial May 27.
Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.