WISCONSIN (MEDIA GENERAL) — A Wisconsin man has been arrested after the FBI says he planned a mass shooting at a Masonic Temple in Milwaukee.
Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, has been charged with possessing machine guns and a silencer, according to court documents obtained by Action 2 News.
According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh was under investigation since September 2015. The investigation revealed that in October 2015, Hamzeh planned to travel to Jordan and attack Israeli soldiers and citizens living in the West Bank. Hamzeh eventually abandoned those plans and began to focus on an attack in the United States, in Wisconsin.
“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,” said Acting United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad.
According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh has engaged in extensive conversations with two confidential sources. 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 selected a Masonic temple in Milwaukee as his target.
On Jan.19, 2016, Hamzeh and the two confidential sources took a guided tour of the Masonic Center, learning about meeting schedules and where people would be during meetings.
In a recorded conversation after they left the temple, Hamzeh discussed his plans with sources. 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.
He said he believed Masons are “playing with the world like a game,” and “these are the ones who are making living for us like hell.”
He said he would be “100% happy” if they killed at least 30 people.
Hamzeh was arrested Monday after purchasing machine guns and silences from undercover FBI agents.
The criminal complaint indicates Hamzeh was not planning the attack with any terrorist organization.
“We are Muslims, defending Muslim religion. We are on our own, my dear. We have organized our own group. We have our own group,” Samy Mohamed Hamzeh said to informants.
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Robert J. Shields said, “The arrest of Samy Mohamed 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.”