Kosovar Albanian Arrested in Tampa Terror Scheme
3:19 PM, Jan 18, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
While Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and other Balkan countries have been plagued by radical Islamist incursions, Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha, who is Muslim, told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth at the end of November that he considers Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Iranian government “the new Nazis, and the world must learn from the Holocaust and stop them before it is too late.”
But some Albanian Muslims haven’t gotten the anti-extremist message. On January 7, a 25-year-old naturalized American named Sami Osmakac was arrested in Tampa, Fla., in a federal sting operation, while planning a terrorist attack on local nightclubs, as well as the county sheriff’s office. He was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property.
Osmakac is an Albanian Muslim born in Kosovo (where his relatives spell their name Osmankaj). He has lived in this country since about 2000, according to media interviews with his immediate family, who own the Balkan Food Store and Bakery in St. Petersburg.
The Department of Justice complaint states that Osmakac came to the attention of authorities when he went to a local business in September 2011 and asked if al Qaeda flags could be purchased. The proprietor, who had worked previously with law enforcement, informed them of Osmakac’s request.
Osmakac met with an undercover agent and handed over $500 as a down payment for an AK-47 machine gun, home-made grenades, and an explosive belt “with a multi-directional blast range of at least 15 yards.” Disarmed weapons and bombs, which he thought to be live, were provided to him, and he affirmed his desire to use them, in a video showing him with the AK-47 and a handgun. He loaded a non-functioning truck bomb into the trunk of his car, started the vehicle, and was arrested.
The case of Sami Osmakac is the latest in several involving Albanian Muslim radicals. Arid Uka, 21, also an Albanian born in Kosovo, is on trial in Frankfurt, Germany, for attacking a U.S. armed forces bus at Frankfurt airport last year, killing two servicemen, Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden, 25, from South Carolina, and the bus driver, Airman 1st Class Zachary R. Cuddeback, 21, of Virginia, and injuring two more.
Uka pled guilty to murder and is expected to be sentenced shortly. The German government has honored two other Americans, Air Force Staff Sgt. Trevor Brewer and civilian airport employee Lamar Conner, with the Federal Cross of Merit for apprehending Uka at the scene of the assault.
Hysen Sherifi, a 27-year old legal immigrant from Kosovo living in North Carolina, was sentenced on Friday, January 13, to 45 years in prison for conspiring with Ziyad Yaghi, 23, and Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 24, in a North Carolina jihadist plot taken down in 2009. The leader of that attempt, Daniel Boyd, 41, who became Muslim and claimed to have fought the Russians in Afghanistan, pled guilty in February 2010 to two counts of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to commit murder, maiming, and kidnapping overseas. Boyd is awaiting sentencing. His two sons, Dylan and Zakaria, also entered guilty pleas and received, respectively, eight and nine years’ imprisonment.
In July 2011, Betim Kaziu, a Brooklyn-born man of Kosovar Albanian ancestry, was convicted of attempting to join the Somali jihadist movement Al-Shabaab. He has yet to be sentenced.