Tampa, FL - The trial of Sami Osmakac is underway at the Sam Gibbons Federal Court Building here, June 2. Osmakac is being accused by the government of attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. This is part of an ongoing persecution of Muslims and Arab Americans. The government has frequently targeted those who speak out against U.S. wars as well as building cases of ‘terrorism’ on fictitious evidence.
Osmakac immigrated with his family from Kosovo in the aftermath of the war in 2000. As a devout Muslim, Osmakac attended mosques throughout the Tampa Bay area. He later became a U.S. citizen. He frequently talked about the local homeless problem in the Tampa Bay area and helped give food to those in need. He also has no prior criminal record.
Osmakac was arrested in January 2012 after allegedly trying to buy weapons off of undercover FBI agents. Since then, he has spent almost two and a half years in solitary confinement. Currently he is housed in the medical area of the Pinellas County jail under suicide watch. Before his arrest he had been diagnosed with mental illnesses.
Mel Underbakke, education committee director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), is a local activist who had previously worked on the Sami Al-Arian trial in Tampa and is speaking out against this injustice. Underbakke said, "This is the third ‘terrorism’ trial I have attended at Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse. The first two resulted in not guilty of terrorism verdicts by juries, but in both cases, the defendants had spent months and years in solitary confinement before the trial. Sadly, once again the defendant Sami Osmakac has not been accused of committing any violence, but nonetheless has been held in solitary confinement for two years before his trial began. Solitary confinement is torture and has the same lasting effects as physical torture."
The federal prosecutors are using recordings from two FBI informants who had been spying on Osmakac or months. However, he had been talking with and led on by FBI informants for much longer. Sami Osmakac’s brother Avni Osmakac, said he had "seen agents around his house every day since 2010." Their house frequently had undercover police vehicles parked nearby. Back then Sami had worked as a grocery stocker for a local market. This is where they think he met the first government informant. From there he spent over a year being coaxed and pushed by agents into making "radical YouTube videos". He was eventually guided into buying fake weapons with money given to him by the FBI. Government videos show FBI informants teaching and pushing Sami into committing acts of terrorism.
The U.S. government has been trying to build a case of lies and doctored evidence to portray a mentally ill man as a terrorist. Accidental recordings between informants and their FBI supervisors have revealed other important information. From the beginning it shows, the supervisors were telling the informants to get them a "Hollywood ending." And that the recordings of Osmakac were "gifts" for the government prosecution. It also revealed what the informants thought of Sami. At one point they said Sami was "wishy-washy" and doubted whether or not he would even carry out the FBI's planned "attack".
Like in the other trials, the U.S. government tries to portray Muslims, Arab-Americans and even anti-war activists as terrorists. Jared Hamil, of the Tampa Committee to Stop FBI Repression says, "They do so for two reasons - for propagandizing for their wars on countries in the Middle East and to scare other Muslims and Arab peoples from speaking out against U.S.-led invasions and occupations. Just as we see with the case of Rasmea Odeh, the U.S. government will do whatever it can to silence those who are outspoken and calling them out."
Avni Osmakac states, "the real terrorism is going on in the courtroom." Activists in the area plan to speak out against this trial in the coming weeks.