Milwaukee Terrorist Tragedy Narrowly Averted

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The FBI this week put an end to the harrowing terrorist plot of a Milwaukee man named Samy Mohamed Hamzeh. According to federal prosecutors, Hamzeh had been planning a low-tech attack on a Masonic temple with two compatriots – a chilling plot that bears more than a passing resemblance to the horrific attack in San Bernardino, CA. The three allegedly planned to go into the temple with automatic rifles and then move deliberately through the center, killing indiscriminately as they went.

Though Hamzeh is accused of plotting what can only be described as a terrorist attack, so far those charges are not among the ones being laid on him by the FBI. Right now, he is charged only with possessing an illegal weapon and a silencer.

According to the official complaint, Hamzeh said that he hoped his attack would inspire others. “Such operations will increase in America, when they hear about it,” he said. “The people will be scared and the operations will increase, and there will be problems all over … this will lead to people clashing with each other. This way we will be igniting it. I mean we are marching at the front of the war.”

The object of Hamzeh’s murderous rampage was to be the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center in downtown Milwaukee, a multipurpose establishment that hosts weddings, business conferences, and other civic events. Hamzeh allegedly cased the joint by taking a public tour, even apparently talking about the attack to staff members at the center. So far, no members of the staff have spoken to the press about this rather stunning bit of information.

Why aren’t Hamzeh’s accomplices being charged? Well, it turns out that the people he thought were his Islamist brothers were actually undercover FBI agents. The agency has had Hamzeh under investigation since September; he was ultimately arrested when he tried to buy weapons from those same agents.

Speaking to them at one point, Hamzeh said there was a baseline number of fatalities that would please him. “Thirty is excellent. If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100%, because these thirty will terrify the world.”

At a point like this, all you can do is tip your hat to the FBI and local law enforcement authorities for a job well done. We may not have a president willing to confront the realities of Islamic terrorism, but there’s no doubt that the men on the ground – both here, and overseas – know exactly what it is they’re up against.