Kosovo born and now Tampa Bay area resident Sami Osmakac was found guilty last week of the federal crime of attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and knowingly possessing a firearm not registered to him in the National Firearms and Transfer Record. Osmakac’s case received national attention in 2012 when he was indicted after posting videos on YouTube, declaring his intention to blow up highly populated Tampa areas including Hyde Park and Ybor City and then subsequently purchasing non-functioning weapons from undercover FBI agents. According to Tampa news reports, Osmakac claimed to want to set off a car bomb near Macdinton’s Irish Pub in south Tampa as he claimed the area of Macdinton’s is a stomping grounds for sinners and homosexuals. Osmakac cited revenge for the deaths of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki as his rationale for his planned destruction. In spite of his Tampa Federal criminal lawyer’s argument at trial that Osmakac was an easy target for an overzealous law enforcement agency and that he was entrapped as a result, the Tampa federal jury came back guilty on both counts in the 2012 indictment.
While Osmakac wasn’t charged under a terrorism related statute, what he was indicted for is commonly used when one is suspected of committing or attempting to commit a terrorist act on American soil. Specifically a charge that one has attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction requires the Federal government to prove the following:
1. That the Defendant attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction against any person or property within the United States;
2. that the Defendant did not have lawful authority to use the weapon of mass destruction; and
3. the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce was used to further the offense or the property was used in interstate or foreign commerce or in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce or any perpetrator traveled in or caused another to travel in interstate or foreign commerce to further the offense or the offense, or the results of the offense, affected interstate or foreign commerce or the offense would have affected interstate or foreign commerce.
A “weapon of mass destruction” is defined as a destructive device, including any explosive, incendiary, or poison-gas bomb, grenade or any weapon designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or effect of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors. A “weapon of mass destruction” can also be any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector, including a microorganism capable of causing death or disease in a human, animal, plant, or other living organism or any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life.
A reading of what this charge consists of is pretty scary. In Osmakac’s case, his Tampa criminal lawyers had an uphill battle in that approximately 91% of all terrorism related allegations result in a conviction, according to a study by the Center for National Security at Fordham Law School. Due to Osmakac’s conviction he could face up to life in prison.
The charge that Osmakac possessed an unregistered firearm not registered to him is a general charge tacked on to many federal cases. This allegation carries with it a 10-year maximum sentence, one that when the dust settles in the Osmakac case will likely be an afterthought.
If you’ve been charged with a Federal crime, contact Tampa federal criminal attorney Jason Mayberry at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.