MILWAUKEE -- FBI officials announced on Tuesday, January 26th that Milwaukee resident Samy Mohammed Hamzeh, 23, has been charged with possessing machine guns and a silencer.
Samy Mohammed Hamzeh
According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh had been under investigation since September 2015. The investigation revealed that, in October 2015, Hamzeh planned to travel to Jordan, enter the West Bank, and conduct an attack on Israeli soldiers and citizens living in the West Bank. Hamzeh later abandoned those plans and began to focus on conducting an attack in the United States.
According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh has engaged in extensive conversations with two confidential sources (referred to here as CS-1 and CS-2). Those conversations, which were in Arabic, were monitored, recorded, and translated by the FBI beginning in October 2015.
During those recorded conversations, Hamzeh explained that he wanted to commit a domestic act of violence and, earlier this month, he settled on a Masonic temple in Milwaukee as his target.
On January 19, 2016, Hamzeh, CS-1 and CS-2 went to a shooting range, and then took a guided tour of the Masonic temple, during which they learned meeting schedules and where people would be located during meetings. In a recorded conversation after they left the temple, Hamzeh, discussed his plans with CS-1 and CS-2. In that conversation, Hamzeh reaffirmed his intention to commit an armed attack on the temple and discussed in further detail how they would carry out the attack.
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Hamzeh said that they would need two machine guns so that they each would have one (Hamzeh indicated that one CS already had a machine gun), and also said that they would need three silencers:
Hamzeh also explained to CS1 and CS2 that, when they executed the attack at the temple, one of the three of them would have to stay at the main door while the others went upstairs to kill the people who would be meeting there:
Hamzeh also explained what his objectives were in committing the attack:
Hamzeh made plans to purchase machine guns and silencers from two individuals who, unbeknownst to Hamzeh, were undercover FBI agents. He met with them, along with CS-1 and CS-2, on January 25, 2016. The undercover agents displayed the weapons and a silencer to Hamzeh, told him that the weapons were capable of automatic fire, and explained to him the functioning of the selector switch that allowed the weapons to fire automatically. Hamzeh agreed to a price and paid it to the undercover agents, who then handed Hamzeh a bag containing two automatic weapons and a silencer. Hamzeh carried the bag to the vehicle in which he had traveled to the meeting, and he placed the bag in the trunk of the vehicle. He then was arrested and has been charged with illegally possessing machine guns.
Acting United States Attorney Gregory Haanstad said in a news release:
“Samy Mohammed Hamzeh devised a detailed plan to commit a mass shooting intended to kill dozens of people. He also said that he wanted this mass shooting to be ‘known the world over’ and to ‘ignite’ broader clashes. It is difficult to calculate the injury and loss of life that was prevented by concerned citizens coming forward and by the tireless efforts of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Robert Shields said the following:
“The arrest of Samy Mohammed Hamzeh is the result of a well-coordinated undercover law enforcement action, at no time was the public’s safety placed in jeopardy. I would like to commend the efforts of the Joint Terrorism Task Force which includes our local and state law enforcement partners in thwarting an attack that could have resulted in significant injury and /or loss of life.”