January 13, 2012

This photo provided by the Hillsborough County, Fla., Sheriff's Office shows Sami Osmakac. (AP Photo/Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

On Saturday night, the FBI thwarted the 44th terrorist attempt to attack our country since 9/11.

In Tampa, Florida, authorities arrested 25-year-old Sami Osmakac in connection to an alleged Islamist-inspired terrorist plot. A naturalized U.S. citizen born in the former Yugoslavia, Osmakac is believed to have planned to use vehicle bombs, assault rifles, grenades and other explosives in an attack on possible targets including night clubs, businesses and a local sheriff’s office.

The Heritage Foundation’s Jessica Zuckerman details the Osmakac plot:

According to a complaint affidavit, the FBI was alerted to the plans of Sami Osmakac in September 2011 when an unnamed source became concerned following a request by Osmakac to purchase al-Qaeda flags. Shortly thereafter, Osmakac discussed his plans for violent attack with the information and outlined his potential targets. When Osmakac asked for help in obtaining firearms and other weapons, the informant then introduced him to an undercover FBI agent from whom Osmakac attempted to purchase an AK-47-style machine gun, Uzi submachine guns, high-capacity magazines, grenades, and an explosive belt.

In a later meeting with the FBI agent, Osmakac indicated that he wished to carry out a multi-pronged assault, beginning with vehicle explosive attacks and then employing an explosive belt to “get in somewhere where there’s a lot of people” and take hostages. On Saturday, Osmakac was arrested following a joint investigation conducted by the FBI Tampa Division and the Tampa Joint Terrorism Task Force.

These lone-wolf style attempts should give rise to continued vigilance. An increasing number of terrorist plots have been undertaken by individuals or small groups with no ties to terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda.

While another attack was thwarted, key holes remain the U.S. counterterrorism enterprise.

Read Zuckerman’s full report on what actions the administration and Congress should take.

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