Earlier this week, the FBI announced the arrest of Sami Osmakac, a 25-year-old Muslim man from the former Yugoslavia. In the process, the agency thwarted what might have been a horrific terror spree targeting populous civilian and commercial areas in Tampa, Florida.
According to the FBI’s criminal complaint, Osmakac, a naturalized American citizen, had been planning a massive terror attack targeting everything from businesses to nightclubs and bridges with the aim of killing and injuring as many people as possible. As part of the attack, he intended to set off a weapon of mass destruction planted in a parked car, then capping off the attack by detonating a suicide belt. Instead, Osmakac’s plans were foiled by a masterful FBI sting operation. Undercover agents tracked the would-be terrorist for months, monitoring his every move and even supplying him with the (secretly non-functional) weapons that he had planned to use before moving in this week to make a decisive arrest.
But what should be an open-and-shut counter-terror success is now being called into question by groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and further obfuscated by academic apologists for Islamic radicalism. No sooner was Osmakac in handcuffs than CAIR spokesman Hassan Shibly suggested that the FBI was more culpable in the case than the jihadist in their custody. “The weapons and explosives were provided by the government. Was he just a troubled individual, or did he pose a real threat?” asked Shibly, before expressing his “concern about a perception of entrapment.”
A closer look at the facts of the case shows this perception to be wholly unfounded. While it’s true that the FBI provided the weapons, the fact remains that it was Osmakac, an al-Qaeda-sympathizer, who had sought them out. Moreover, according to an FBI affidavit, the undercover FBI agent who sold Osmakac his non-working arms had repeatedly tried to convince him to give up his plans and seek a normal life. In one recorded conversation, the agent urged Osmakac to consider getting married and having a family rather than going ahead with his plan. That is the opposite of entrapment. In the event, Osmakac refused, insisting that he would be rewarded by Allah in paradise for carrying out his attack. Given his intention of doing just that, it’s to the FBI’s great credit that the agency made sure Osmakac never had access to anything but defective arms.
Osmakac’s clearly expressed conviction that Allah required him to commit terrorism points up another emerging and equally misguided assessment of the case – namely, that religion had nothing to do with Osmakac’s motives. “I don’t think his Islamic religion has anything to do with what’s going on,” claimed Dr. Barbara DeGeorge, identified by local Florida media as an “Islamic studies expert,” following the arrest. Even the FBI made a concession to political correctness, with the head of the agency’s Tampa Bay division assuring the press that Osmakac’s case “is not about the Muslim religion.”
All the available evidence indicates otherwise. In an eight-minute video laying out his intentions, Osmakac declared that he felt no compunction about killing innocents because non-Muslim “blood” was less valuable than that of Muslims. Osmakac also had a message for non-believers: “My message is if you don’t accept Islam you’re going to hell.”
Nor did he spare his co-religionists. “What’s the matter with you?” Osmakac demanded in the video. “Trying to follow their ways? Trying to go to nightclubs, like them? Trying to fornicate, like them? Trying to get with their women? . . . Submit to the rule of Allah.” Not least, Osmakac yearned for a death as a Muslim martyr, announcing that the authorities “can take me in five million pieces,” a reference to the suicide belt he planned to explode. Notwithstanding the apologists, it’s clear that, in Osmakac’s mind at least, the “Islamic religion” had everything to do with his planned attack.
Rather than pandering to political sensitivities, the FBI would be better served by touting the truly salutary aspect of the case: the crucial cooperation of the Tampa Muslim community in securing Osmakac’s arrest. An unidentified Muslim citizen, who became alarmed at Osmakac’s request for al-Qaeda flags when he visited his or her store, first tipped off the agency to his intentions. Thanks to that tip, the FBI was able to track Osmakac every step of the way. If the FBI truly wanted to bolster American Muslims’ image, it should focus on their commendable efforts in helping to stop an Islamic fanatic from killing in the name of his religion.