The Latest: Co-worker: Temple plot suspect fired from 2 jobs

AP News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2016 3:50 PM
The Latest: Co-worker: Temple plot suspect fired from 2 jobs

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Latest on a man accused of planning to attack a Masonic temple in Milwaukee (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

A former co-worker of the Milwaukee man accused of plotting to attack a Masonic temple says the defendant is a "stupid kid" who smoked marijuana, didn't show up for work and was fired from at least two jobs.

Thirty-two-year-old Jawad Jawad worked with Samy Mohamed Hamzeh at two Milwaukee restaurants and says he's known Hamzeh for a couple of years.

Jawad said Wednesday that he never had an idea the 23-year-old Hamzeh could be capable of the alleged plot. Hamzeh is charged with unlawfully possessing a machine gun and receiving and possessing firearms not registered to him.

Federal authorities have not said which temple was targeted. But a secretary for the Valley of Milwaukee, which includes four Masonic chapters, says the FBI told the fraternity that the temple in question is the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center in downtown Milwaukee.

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12:55 p.m.

Wisconsin's top federal defender says the defense for a Milwaukee man accused of plotting to attack a Masonic temple will examine the conduct of FBI informants ahead of his arrest.

Daniel Stiller says his office doesn't yet know anything about Samy Mohamed Hamzeh's case beyond a criminal complaint. Federal authorities arrested Hamzeh on Tuesday, saying he had plotted to attack a temple and had purchased machine guns from two undercover FBI employees.

The criminal complaint includes several statements allegedly made by Hamzeh in Arabic.

Stiller says the translations "don't read like spoken words" and the defense will likely focus on the accuracy and completeness of translation from Arabic. He also says they will look at what the FBI informant was "contributing to the dialogue."

Defense attorneys in similar sting cases in the past have accused investigators of effectively steering a suspect into plotting attacks they might not have done on their own.

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12:05 p.m.

A Masonic official in Milwaukee says he is surprised to hear of an alleged plot to attack a Masonic center.

Federal authorities say 23-year-old Samy Mohamed Hamzeh of Milwaukee was planning the attack but was arrested after he bought machine guns from undercover FBI agents.

Gavin DeGrave is secretary for the Valley of Milwaukee, which includes four Masonic chapters and has its headquarters in the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center in downtown Milwaukee.

DeGrave said he was surprised to read in a criminal complaint that Hamzeh seemed to blame Masons as the "root of all the world's problems."

"We can hardly plan a pancake breakfast," DeGrave said Wednesday. He said a center may have been targeted because it was thought to be "easy pickings."

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8:20 a.m.

A Milwaukee man accused of buying machine guns for an attack on a Masonic temple has been moved to another jail in southeastern Wisconsin.

U.S. Marshals Service Supervisor Doug Bachert said Wednesday that Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was moved a day earlier from Waukesha County Jail to the Kenosha County Jail for logistical reasons. Both facilities contract with the U.S. Marshals Service in holding federal inmates.

Court documents say the FBI recorded conversations between the 23-year-old Hamzeh and two federal informants talking about a plot to attack a Masonic temple in Milwaukee. Prosecutors say Hamzeh wanted to travel to the Middle East and kill Israelis but abandoned that plan as unworkable.

Hamzeh is facing federal charges of unlawfully possessing a machine gun and receiving and possessing firearms not registered to him.

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1:25 a.m.

Federal agents say a Milwaukee man arrested on a charge of trying to buy machine guns to attack a Masonic temple also wanted to travel to the Middle East and kill Israelis but abandoned that as unworkable.

Federal prosecutors charged 23-year-old Samy Mohamed Hamzeh on Tuesday with unlawfully possessing a machine gun and receiving and possessing firearms not registered to him.

The FBI recorded conversations between Hamzeh and two federal informants talking about an attack on a Masonic temple in Milwaukee. Authorities say he bought guns from informants and then was arrested.

Court documents allege Hamzeh also wanted to go to Israel and kill Israeli soldiers but decided to focus instead on a domestic target.

Hamzeh was recently fired from his job as a trainer at a kickboxing gym, according to the owner.