TAMPA — Seated on the floor of a dimly lit Tampa hotel room with his legs crossed, Sami Osmakac gestures with his hand holding a pistol as an undercover FBI agent recorded his words.
He rails against non-believers and those who abandon their religion, whom he says “Allah hates.” He says their blood and souls, their women and children, all are “fair game.”
“This video is to all the Muslim youth and to all the Muslims worldwide,” he says. “This is a call to the truth. It is the call to help and aid in the party of Allah, and help the ummah (nation) and bring back honor to the din (faith) of Allah. And pay him back for every sister that has been raped and every brother that has been tortured and raped and every ... Muslim death in Chechnya and Bosnia and Kosovo and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Somalia and Iraq and Yemen and elsewhere.
“And this is payback for Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.”
The video was the first exhibit shown to jurors in Osmakac’s terrorism trial Wednesday. The prosecution says the video is clear evidence that Osmakac planned to wreak havoc in the Tampa area.
The video was made just after the undercover agent, testifying Wednesday under the name Amir, said he gave Osmakac what Osmakac didn’t know were inert explosives and hand grenades. The agent said he also gave him the handgun and a fully automatic AK-47 seen propped against a door in the background of Osmakac’s martyrdom video.
The agent said the video was Osmakac’s idea, as was the purchase of weapons from the agent, whom Osmakac had met through a paid informant.
But defense attorney George Tragos said Osmakac never intended to hurt anyone on American soil. Osmakac espoused “radical” beliefs, Tragos said, asserting that holding those beliefs was not illegal. Tragos said the defendant wanted to go overseas and fight against NATO and American troops. Tragos said Osmakac couldn’t afford to buy a sandwich, never mind weapons and explosives.
That changed when he was cajoled and manipulated by a paid informant and an undercover FBI agent, Tragos said. The government gave money to the informant, who provided it to Osmakac, who used the money to pay the undercover agent for what turned out to be inert explosives and a non-working machine gun.
Osmakac was so hapless, Tragos said, that the government wrote out in English instructions on how to use a car bomb and taped them to the bogus device so Osmakac would know how to use it.
“This entire case is like a Hollywood script,” Tragos said. “If you had to write a progression of events in order to trap somebody into committing a crime, this would be the script... The slickness and training of the FBI and CHS allow them to push ... to get someone to do what they wouldn’t normally do.”
Amir testified that the words in the video were Osmakac’s, that Osmakac gave the undercover agent a camera and asked him to film. The agent said he didn’t know what Osmakac was going to say.
Watching the video, jurors got a glimpse of the vitriol that made Tampa-area Muslims worry about Osmakac. Some of those Muslims alerted authorities about his rants outside mosques, where he harangued those he viewed as infidels because they disagreed with his interpretation of Islam.
Osmakac talks to the agent in some of the recordings about his clashes with local Muslims, telling him at one point that he avoids mosques because “when I go in and see them promoting democracy and all that, I can’t handle it.”
On the martyrdom video, the defendant claimed 500,000 “filthy” infidels, “uncircumcised redneck” infidel men had been allowed onto the Arabian peninsula by “apostates,” or those who abandon their religion.
“Men raping my sisters,” he said. “And we just lag behind and sit back and we see it at the shopping center and we smile at them. The only time we should smile is when they bleed. We are people that love to drink blood and we’ve heard that you Kuffar (infidels) Americans and Romans have the sweetest blood on the earth and we’re coming for your blood, and we’re coming for your women’s blood and we’re coming for your children’s blood.”
“Victory is ours,” he proclaims. “We won already.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney told jurors in her opening statement that Osmakac at one point wanted to blow up all the major bridges in the Tampa area, including the Gandy and the Sunshine Skyway.
When he was arrested on Jan. 7, 2012, he planned to blow up a car bomb outside MacDinton’s Irish Pub on South Howard and then use grenades and an AK-47 to take hostages at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, where he planned to demand the release of Muslim prisoners, prosecutors say.
Amir testified that Osmakac told him that after the prisoners were released, he planned to act like he was surrendering, and then when law enforcement approached, he would detonate a suicide vest.
Amir testified under unusual arrangements intended to cloak his true identity from the public. A screen was placed between him and the courtroom gallery, and spectators were cleared from the room whenever the agent walked to or from his seat. Video evidence had the agent’s face pixilated.
Jurors heard recordings of the two meetings between the two, and Osmakac seemed well aware of the intense surveillance he was under, electronically, as well as by airplanes and agents in vehicles.
If not for the fact that the surveillance was real, Osmakac sounded paranoid, not wanting to talk near a cell phone and telling the agent to turn on his car radio to drown out their conversation.
This led to a surreal recording of classical Christmas music playing in the background while they discussed the handoff of weapons and explosives.
The jury also saw a meeting in the agent’s car where they discussed various weapons, and Osmakac raised the spectre of a car bomb. Initially, he asked in the recording about two or three cars full of explosives but settled on one because of worries about cost.
They talk about whether he wants to ignite his suicide vest inside or outside, and Osmakac says it would be better to be inside where he could inflict more harm and cause “more terror in their hearts.”
They talk about the difference between high- and low-intensity explosives.
“So, which one is more damaging, let’s say, to police for instance?” Osmakac asks.
“OK, it would be, the high intensity because it would rip ... flesh, you know,” Amir responds.
“Yeah, so high intensity,” Osmakac decides.