Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New details emerge in case of alleged plot to destroy Tampa Bay bridges, attack sheriff's facility

Sami Osmakac is accused of plotting terror attacks.

Sami Osmakac is accused of plotting terror attacks.

TAMPA — Sami Osmakac thought four or five people in a fishing boat would be enough to take down several Tampa Bay bridges, according to federal court documents filed Wednesday.

An attack on the bridges would leave people terrified and bring the area to a halt for at least a month, he told an undercover agent.

"This area has millions, with Pinellas and Tampa ... has like two, three million people. They all, nobody's goin' to work," he said, according to a report filed with the court documents.

The August 2013 report from Evan Kohlmann, a private international terrorism consultant, is based on evidence provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office. It says Osmakac, who was accused in 2012 of plotting massive attacks in Tampa, has the traits of a "homegrown terrorist."

A motion filed Wednesday by defense attorney George Tragos calls Kohlmann's report speculative and asks that he not be allowed to testify. The report, which includes parts of recorded conversations between Osmakac and an undercover FBI agent, gives new details about the plan to attack bridges and a Hillsborough County sheriff's facility.

He thought he could take down at least five bridges with help from five people in a fishing boat, though he said "nobody wants to do it" and considered using a cell phone to detonate explosives, the report said.

Osmakac also wanted to assault a sheriff's operations center in Ybor City and kidnap people from the building, the report said. He had a desire to attack "army people" but said "their bases are so locked up, I have to, I have to do something else."

He talked about plans to bomb a South Tampa bar and shoot first responders, the report said. He showed the agent some planned targets, saying he had seen videos of preachers who "insulted God and the Prophet" while working near nightclubs on busy nights.

Osmakac planned to take hostages to exchange for imprisoned jihadist leaders, the report said. He vowed to shoot a hostage every 30 minutes unless the jihadists were released.

In the report, Kohlmann concludes Osmakac fits some of the characteristics of a "homegrown terrorist." The new defense motion argues the charges against Osmakac don't allege he was a terrorist. The prosecution has enough evidence with undercover recordings and witnesses "to prove the crime without the necessity of this 'smear campaign'," it said.

Kohlmann has been an expert prosecution witness in several terrorism trials and has "made his living as an expert witness for hire," drawing criticism that he "sees danger everywhere he looks," according to a 2010 profile in New York Magazine.

Osmakac, 27, a Kosovo native and naturalized U.S. citizen from Pinellas Park, was charged in January 2012 with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. The investigation began in 2011 when an informer told the FBI that Osmakac had been shopping for flags representing al-Qaida. The informer introduced Osmakac to an undercover FBI agent posing as someone who could provide weapons.

Keeley Sheehan can be reached at ksheehan@tampabay.com.

New details emerge in case of alleged plot to destroy Tampa Bay bridges, attack sheriff's facility 03/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 11:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans

    Blogs

    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.