War on Terror

The Crazy Guy Yelling on the Corner May Be the FBI's Next Big Terror Bust

The Intercept details another plot put together by the FBI


Osmakac riding around with an FBI agent, thinking he's Bane. ||| YouTube

If we're not well aware by now that many of the FBI's domestic terrorist busts are of lone nutjobs with bonkers ideas and not actual embedded agents of chaos here to wreck our way of life, The Intercept has an in-depth look at Sami Osmakac. Osmakac has been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for a terrorist plot in Tampa put together almost entirely by FBI agents, one of whom referred to Osmakac as a "retarded fool" in recorded conversations. Those conversations were supposed to have been kept sealed by a judge's orders, but transcripts were provided to The Intercept by a confidential source.

What was he doing before this plot to blow up bridges in Tampa Bay for Allah? He was getting into a fight with a Christian protester outside a Lady Gaga concert. As The Intercept notes, Osmakac's "plan" once an undercover FBI agent started working with him as a possible source for weapons sounded absurd:

For all Osmakac's talk, the FBI's undercover videos suggest he was less a hardened terrorist and more a comic book villain. While driving around Tampa with Amir, a hidden FBI camera near the dashboard, Osmakac described a plot to bomb simultaneously the several large bridges that span Tampa Bay.

"That's five bridges, man," Osmakac says. "All you need is five more people …. This would crush everything, man. They would have no more food coming in. Nobody would have work. These people would commit suicide!"

This all happened a year before The Dark Knight Rises was released, so at least he wasn't a plagiarist. Osmakac didn't have five more people. He didn't have anybody. He didn't have any money. He was a troubled loner who seemed to have snapped at some point, and several mental health professionals hired both by the defense and the court diagnosed him as either psychotic or schizoaffective.

Whether Osmakac had any potential for danger if the FBI hadn't essentially fed him a script and the tools he needed is unknowable. Trevor Aaronson delves deeply into Osmakac's background. It's possible to see parallels with the radicalization of the Tsarnaev brothers (as Dzhokhar's trial continues on today). But those secret FBI recordings also make it pretty clear that the FBI was really working to make a terrorist threat out of Osmakac, talking about prosecutors wanting to get a "Hollywood ending" out of the whole thing. But we don't know whether Osmakac would have ever become a terrorist on his own or, alternatively, somebody who needed ongoing mental health treatment.

Read the full story here.