MILWAUKEE -- 23-year-old Samy Mohammed Hamzeh, accused of plotting to kill at least 30 people at a Masonic temple in Milwaukee is now being housed in the Kenosha County Jail, where a source tells FOX6 News Hamzeh is on suicide watch.
Samy Mohammed Hamzeh
According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh engaged in extensive conversations with two confidential sources, and 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.
The complaint accuses Hamzeh of visiting a shooting range with two other people, and then touring a Masonic temple in Milwaukee, before purchasing machine guns and silencers from undercover FBI agents.
Hamzeh is accused of saying: “Thirty is excellent. If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100%. . . . 100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world.”
Hamzeh was initially being held in the Waukesha County Jail after he was arrested on January 25th.
Hamzeh was later moved to the Kenosha County Jail, which contracts with the government for jail space for federal inmates. A source tells FOX6 News he is on suicide watch after making threats to himself and to jail staff members.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said a main concern for them is safety when it comes to transporting Hamzeh to federal court in Milwaukee for his next hearing, which is scheduled for February 9th.
Prior to Hamzeh's arrest it appears there was little that would have been concerning about him.
Samy Hamzeh's former apartment
Hamzeh at one time lived near Humboldt and Capitol Drive in a one-room apartment. Angelic Howard now lives in that apartment. She said she met Hamzeh once briefly, and never noticed anything out of the ordinary.
"I moved here in November 2014," Howard said.
Samy Mohammed Hamzeh's former apartment
Hamzeh's former landlord said he left the apartment without providing notice. He reportedly worked at the Casablanca restaurant on Brady Street for a period of time. Those at Casablanca had no comment on Wednesday, January 27th.
He most recently worked as a kickboxing instructor at 9Rounds Downtown. He was fired last week. His former boss there told FOX6 News Hamzeh was combative and too "military like" towards the customers he was training.
9Round Downtown Milwaukee
FOX6 News has also learned Hamzeh took classes at MATC between Fall 2011 and Spring 2014.
A search of Hamzeh's criminal record shows only traffic citations.
There is no criminal record out of Dade County, Florida, where Hamzeh once lived.
But he is now accused of speaking with others about his plot to shoot and kill as many as 30 people at a Masonic temple in Milwaukee, allegedly telling the two confidential sources in those recorded conversations: "We will eliminate everyone.”
Officials in Kenosha County tell FOX6 News Hamzeh was transferred there around 8:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
He remains a federal prisoner who is simply being housed in Kenosha as he awaits his next court appearance.
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.
The criminal complaint includes several statements allegedly made by Hamzeh in Arabic -- and Daniel 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.
"These are the types of scenarios that we were always saying something like this could happen," Steven Pederson said.
Pederson spent 10 years serving on Milwaukee's FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. He calls it a dedicated team that worked 24/7 to thwart attacks like the alleged planned attack at a Masonic temple in Milwaukee.
"There were many disruptions of potential terrorist-type attacks or incidents or acts of violence that occurred on a fairly, I'd say regular basis. But a lot of those disruptions are never known for obvious intelligence reasons," Pederson said. "I think, you know, everybody needs to be vigilant."