United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return by a federal grand jury of an indictment charging Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari (23, Tampa) with attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (‘ISIS’), and with violations of the National Firearms Act. If convicted on all counts, Al-Azhari faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in federal prison.
According to court documents, Al-Azhari was an ISIS supporter who planned and attempted to carry out an attack on behalf of that terrorist organization. Since at least 2019, Al-Azhari has consumed ISIS propaganda and spoken favorably about ISIS. Al-Azhari, who has a criminal history that includes prior terrorism charges in Saudi Arabia, acquired multiple firearms, including a Glock pistol and silencer. Al-Azhari also expressed admiration for Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen and spoke of his desire to carry out a similar mass shooting. Additionally, Al-Azhari researched and scouted potential targets in the Tampa area, including beaches and the FBI Tampa Field Office. He also rehearsed portions of an attack and statements that he would make during or in connection with such an attack.
FBI agents arrested Al-Azhari on May 24, 2020, after he took possession of weapons, including a Glock handgun and silencer, to be used in an attack. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)