26-Year-Old ISIS Supporter Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Tampa, Florida Mass Shooting Plot

According to the Justice Department, a 26-year-old supporter of ISIS who planned a mass shooting in Tampa, Florida, was sentenced this week to 18 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release as part of a plea deal. 

Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari is “a danger to the United States and its citizens,” according to Judge Thomas Barber on Thursday. Lifelong defense against him is required.

Al-Azhari, a citizen of the United States, entered a guilty plea in February to attempting to support a foreign terrorist organization financially.

Following his release from a Saudi prison and return to the United States in 2018, the FBI started looking into him. He had spent time behind bars in Saudi Arabia for encouraging terrorism in Syria. 

In the spring of 2020, he started preparing for the Tampa attack by scouting potential shooting locations, buying weapons, including a fully automatic rifle, and practicing some of his strategy. The DOJ stated in a release that he also practiced what he would say about his support for ISIS after the attack. 

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Al-Azhari also mentioned avenging the detention of Muslims and ISIS fighters as well as taking revenge for American military presence in the region. 

Attorney Anthony Rickman told FOX 13 that “the government made a clear case.” This person intends to commit mass murder in this nation and in our own backyard, and is a terrorist and extremist. 

In texts obtained by the FBI, Al-Azhari wrote, “I don’t want to take four or five, no.” He also made reference to the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting at Pulse, in which a gunman killed 49 people. At the very least 50, please.

He stated, “You know, like brother Omar Mateen in Orlando did,” in another text. 49 accompanied him. The shooting resulted in the death of Mateen. 

Several conversations between Al-Azhari and an undercover FBI agent and a secret source in April and May of 2020 were recorded. During these conversations, Al-Azhari revealed to the source his plans to support ISIS financially and materially. 

Additionally, he attempted to purchase weapons from the undercover agent. 

Additionally, he found a source for his attack and asked him to obtain a Glock pistol and an unregistered silencer. On May 24, 2020, after he had taken possession of the weapon from the source, he was ultimately apprehended. 

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