Potential targets find alleged Tampa terror plot ''disturbing'' | News
Tampa, Florida -- His arrest affidavit suggests Sami Osmakac's first choice was to go after military targets in the Bay area, but thought they were too secure.
"I would love to go after the Army people," he said, according to the affidavit. "But the bases are so locked up."
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So instead, investigators say he set his sights on populated areas like Tampa's historic Ybor City.
Investigators say Osmakac first chose Ybor City, because it's a target-rich environment; there are more people to harm, the district is popular with locals and tourists alike and streets are often packed with people soaking in the night life.
The plot also included the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office operations center, also located in Ybor.
His arrest affidavit suggests at 25, Sami Osmakac was clearly familiar with the Bay area. His targets, say investigators, were chosen to strike fear, maximize casualties, and bring economic chaos to the region.
Robert O'Neill with the U.S. Attorney's office said, "It was very real in his mind, his intentions."
But officials say Osmakac was unknowingly dealing with undercover agents. Ultimately, Osmakac decided against Ybor, they say, because he thought there were too many police officers in the area.
The very threat of such an attack was very disturbing for people who work and live here.
Freddie Mamoudi, with NY, NY Pizza echoed the way many felt about the alleged plot. "I have no idea what's wrong with these people," he said.
Kayleigh Wilson, a local resident also couldn't understand why anyone would target Tampa.
"You always hear about threatening terrorist attacks, but not actually hitting your home city," she said.
Investigators say after excluding Ybor, Osmakac decided to create economic mayhem blowing up Tampa bridges, choking off commerce and food.
He chose instead, hot-spots in South Tampa, near Howard and Swann avenues. He specifically mentioned an "Irish Bar"- the name of which he could not remember, according to the affidavit.
That revelation had people near McDinton's and nearby Dubliner Irish Pub on edge.
Ben Flores, who lives a short distance from both said, "It's a pretty peaceful area, and it's not a high-profile area, so I don't know what they'd be getting out of it if they did."
Osmakac, according to the arrest affidavit, told an undercover agent he wanted to strike at night when there would be more people in the areas he was talking about targeting.
He seemed encouraged that the explosives would be strong enough to bring down a building.