Suspect held as FBI transcribes tapes in Masonic center plot
June 30, 2016   By:    Samy Mohamed Hamzeh   Comments are off   //   862 Views

By John Diedrich 

A man suspected of plotting to attack a Masonic center in Milwaukee remains locked up as the FBI transcribes secretly recorded conversations between him and informants.

In federal court this week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Kanter said the FBI still has months of recordings of Samy Mohamed Hamzeh that need to be translated from Arabic to English. Hamzeh was not in court Tuesday. His next hearing was set for Aug. 26.

Hamzeh, 23, is charged with five counts of illegally possessing two machine guns and a silencer, which he bought from undercover FBI agents. He is not facing terrorism-related counts, which experts said is not usual.

The criminal complaint says Hamzeh plotted to launch the attack on a Masonic center in downtown Milwaukee. In preparation, Hamzeh toured the Masonic center, practiced shooting at a range and spoke extensively about how the attack would unfold.

He said the attack was to defend Islam by going after Masons, “who are the ones who need to be killed,” and he hoped to kill at least 30 people.

The FBI has finished transcripts and summaries of conversations between Hamzeh and informants over roughly a week in January, shortly before he was arrested.

Agents said they are about halfway done with translating the 106 CDs of conversations.

Hamzeh’s attorney, Craig Albee, said in court Tuesday that he wanted to see information on all the conversations before he can make pretrial motions. Albee has held off on making possible arguments for Hamzeh’s release until hearing the conversations.

Friends of Hamzeh said he was a pot-smoking screw-up, not a radical. His supporters took to social media to proclaim his innocence earlier this year, and they and his mother have said he was set up by the FBI.

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