A 23-year-old arrested by the FBI for planning a shooting attack in Milwaukee originally planned to attack Israelis, it was reported on Tuesday.
According to WDJT-TV in Milwaukee, the suspect, Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was charged with possessing machine guns and a silencer. He was reportedly arrested on Monday when he purchased weapons from undercover FBI agents.
In October 2015, Hamzeh planned to travel to Jordan and from there enter Judea and Samaria and conduct an attack on Israeli soldiers and citizens.
However, he eventually abandoned those plans and began to focus on conducting an attack in the United States, WDJT reported, citing a release from the United States Attorney’s Office of Eastern District of Wisconsin.
During recorded conversations, Hamzeh explained that, in lieu of the attack in Israel, he wanted to commit a domestic act of violence on a Masonic Temple in Milwaukee.
On January 19, Hamzeh took a guided tour of the Masonic temple, learning about meeting schedules and where people would be located during meetings.
He reportedly planned to carry out the attack with three people, according to recordings of conversations he held with FBI sources and released Tuesday.
In the recordings, Hamzeh said that the attackers would need two machine guns and also said that they would need three silencers.
His getaway plan was meant to take advantage of Wisconsin's cold winters, according to transcripts posted by Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV.
“We will shoot them, kill them and get out. We Will walk and walk, after a while, we will be covered as if it is cold, and we'll take the covers off and dump them in a corner and keep on walking, as if nothing happened, as if everything is normal,” he said.
As well, Hamzeh indicated that the mass shooting was intended to gain worldwide attention.
“I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world…Sure, all over the world, all the Mujahedeen will be talking and they will be proud of us, what is wrong with you, such operations will increase in America, when they hear about it. The people will be scared and the operations will increase…this will lead to people clashing with each other. This way we will be igniting it.”
“We are Muslims, defending Muslim religion, we are on our own, my dear, we have organized our own group. We have our own group, not with Hamas, not with my ass, we are here defending Islam, young people together join to defend Islam, that's it, that is what our intention is,” he continued.
The arrest is just another example of the threat from radicalization. The phenomenon was perhaps best recently illustrated in the December shooting attack in San Bernardino, California, where the attackers are believed to had been radicalized for quite some time.
American authorities over the past year or so have arrested and charged several people of supporting ISIS. Just last month, a Pennsylvania teenager was indicted after investigators said he tried to help individuals travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State (ISIS) group.
Faisal Mohammad, a California college student who stabbed four people late last year was reported to have been carrying an image of the black flag of ISIS as well as a handwritten manifesto with instructions to behead a student and multiple reminders to pray to Allah.