FBI: Man Planned Massacre to 'Defend Muslims'

Feds say he targeted Milwaukee Masonic center
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2016 12:43 AM CST

(Newser) – A man plotted to massacre dozens of people at a Masonic hall in Milwaukee in what he called an operation to "defend Muslims," federal agents say. According to an FBI affidavit, 23-year-old Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was recorded by two undercover agents plotting to storm the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center and kill at least 30 people to show the world "nobody can play with Muslims," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The affidavit says Hamzeh told the informants that the plan was "to annihilate everyone" in the center and spark more mass shootings. The FBI says Hamzeh was arrested and charged with weapons offenses on Monday after buying two machine guns from undercover federal agents.

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The FBI says informants had been recording Hamzeh's conversations since October, soon after he abandoned a plan to carry out attacks in Israel for "family, financial, and logistic reasons" and decided to attack a target in the US instead, the AP reports. The owner of a Milwaukee gym tells the AP that she fired Hamzeh as a trainer a few weeks ago because he was "very intense, very militant." It's not clear why Hamzeh hasn't been charged with terror-related offenses—in one conversation, he told informants he wanted to "terrify the world"—though sources tell the New York Times it's because investigators couldn't find any links to foreign terror organizations. (Read more Milwaukee stories.)

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