ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A 25-year-old Muslim man born in Kosovo was charged on Monday with trying to obtain explosives and firearms to attack Florida businesses and a police station, authorities said.
Sami Osmakac, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Kosovo - a disputed Balkan state once a part of the former Yugoslavia that declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 - was charged with one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
He was arrested Saturday night after taking possession from an undercover FBI agent of what he believed to be explosives and firearms. He then armed what he thought was a car bomb intended to explode outside an Irish bar, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney. The devices were rendered inoperable by the agents.
Osmakac also planned to strap on an explosive belt and “get in somewhere where there’s a lot of people,” according to the release. Osmakac hoped to take hostages and demand the release of some unidentified prisoners. He told the undercover agent that police could “take me in five million pieces,” according to the release.
“We all have to die, so why not die the Islamic way?” Osmakac, who said he is Muslim, was quoted as saying to agents.
Shortly before his arrest, Osmakac made an eight-minute video of himself, recorded at his request by the agent, explaining his motives for carrying out the planned attack, according to the release.
Osmakac said in the video that Muslim “blood” was more valuable than that of people who do not believe in Islam, and that he wanted “payback” for wrongs to Muslims.
The investigation was triggered by someone who told the FBI in September that Osmakac asked about obtaining flags representing al Qaeda, the Islamic extremist group responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
The press release described events leading up to the arrest: Osmakac met again with the source in November, discussed potential targets for attack in Tampa, and asked for help in obtaining firearms and explosives. The source set up the first of a series of meetings between Osmakac and an undercover FBI agent, all of which were recorded.
Osmakac identified his targets as several nightclubs in Ybor City, Tampa’s historic Cuban community and a popular tourist district; and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s operations center.
Osmakac’s shopping list, for which he provided the undercover agent a $500 down payment, included the explosive belt which he specified should be constructed to “rip flesh.”
He asked for enough explosives for three car bombs with cell phone triggers, but settled for one car bomb when the agent told him a bigger purchase would draw attention. He also requested an AK-47-style machine gun, Uzi submachine guns, high capacity magazines, and grenades.
Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Beech