Hard Rock Tampa: ISIS Acolyte Who Planned Mass Shooting Gets 18 Years
Posted on: July 14, 2023, 04:52h.
Last updated on: July 14, 2023, 04:52h.
Florida-based ISIS supporter Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari wanted to carry out a mass shooting in Tampa, and his list of possible targets in the city included the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, according to prosecutors.
On Thursday, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing guns and money to the Jihadist terror organization.
Al-Azhari was arrested by the FBI in May 2020. The feds say he scoped out several possible targets for a planned Tampa-area atrocity, including Honeymoon Island, Bayshore Boulevard, and the FBI’s Tampa Field Office, in addition to the Hard Rock.
He allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to kill “at least 50” his fellow Americans and other “infidels,” including his own father, according to court filings.
Imprisoned by Saudis
Just weeks before his arrest, Al-Azhari bought an Uzi, a bullet-proof vest, and a drone. He also tried to order firearm parts and a silencer from eBay. He filmed a mock rehearsal of himself carrying out a massacre, which was discovered when agents seized his cellphone.
He also told colleagues at the Home Depot store where he worked that those who died in the Twin Towers on 9-11 “got what they deserved” and expressed admiration for Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen.
As a teenager in 2015, Al-Azhari attempted to reach Syria to join ISIS, but was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured by Saudi authorities.
His defense lawyer argued last year that this experience exacerbated pre-existing mental health problems, causing him to “experience visual hallucinations and to talk to people who were not there.”
Feds began investigating Al-Azhari after the Saudis shipped him back to the US in December 2018, prosecutors said.
After his release, his paranoia and delusions worsened, and he took to “sleeping by the front door at night and waking up in panic, thinking that the FBI or Saudi spies were going to kill him,” according to court documents.
Al-Azhari was initially ruled unfit to stand trial by a US district judge. But that decision was overturned by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in December last year.
He pleaded guilty to the charges earlier this year. His 18-year sentence will be followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
Five days after his arrest, Al-Azhari’s sister, Heba Momtaz Al-Azhari, was shot dead after she attacked a police officer with a knife in Temple Terrance, Fl.
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