By Letitia Stein
TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida man who bought weapons from an undercover FBI agent and planned to blow up popular Tampa entertainment areas was found guilty on Tuesday and faces life in prison.
A jury found Sami Osmakac, 27, guilty of attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and possessing an unregistered automatic firearm. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 7.
“The jury’s verdict in this case represents another victory in our fight against terrorism," U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley said in a press release.
“Our success here is due in part to assistance from the Muslim community, which brought the defendant’s extremist views to the attention of law enforcement.”
Federal prosecutors presented evidence that in 2012, Osmakac, a U.S. citizen born in Kosovo, arranged to buy weapons such as a car bomb, machine gun, explosive belt and grenades to target crowded locations in Tampa.
He did not realize that he was buying the weapons from an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The agency recorded Osmakac asking if a car bomb would "take down buildings" and "kill people inside," according to a federal affidavit.
Defense attorney George Tragos said he planned to appeal the verdict. He argued that Osmakac was manipulated by the federal agent.
"We thought the jury would recognize that with his lower than average intelligence and his psychosis, how easily influenced he was by someone coming into his life and telling him this is what he needed to do," Tragos said in a phone interview after the verdict was announced.
(Editing by Jim Loney)