FBI, local authorities thwart ISIS terror plot in Tampa

Momtaz Al-Azhari
The 23-year-old had a criminal history including terrorism charges in Saudi Arabia.

The Department of Justice announced charges Wednesday against a 23-year-old Florida man who attempted to provide material support to the Islamic State extremist group and carry out an attack in the Tampa Bay area.

According to a criminal complaint, Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari of Tampa was an ISIS supporter with a criminal history that included terrorism charges in Saudi Arabia. The complaint said over the course of the investigation, Al-Azhari expressed admiration for the Pulse nightclub shooter and intended to carry out a similar attack.

“The primary mission of the FBI is to protect the American public from a terrorist attack,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Tampa Division Michael F. McPherson. “Today’s announcement of the arrest of Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azahari is proof we are committed to that pledge.  I commend the 18 federal, state, and local member agencies who comprise FBI Tampa’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) for working day and night to prevent the loss of life in the Tampa Bay community. We were also fortunate to gain the cooperation of multiple citizens who willingly and bravely provided their assistance during this investigation.  This strong bond between law enforcement and the public allowed us to disrupt this threat.”

According to the complaint, Al-Azhari was arrested by the FBI on May 24 after he took possession of weapons intended for use in the attack including a Glock pistol and a silencer.

“We are grateful for the quick work of our partners at the FBI to apprehend Al-Azhari before he could carry out his attack,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “This case demonstrates the Department’s commitment to stand vigilant against the threat of terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms.”

The announcement comes less than six months after an Al-Qaida connected Saudi Air Force officer shot and killed three U.S. sailors and injured eight other people at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


  • Ward Posey

    May 28, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Good job to all agencies involved.

  • Roger Kuhn

    May 28, 2020 at 10:59 am

    How does slime get into America? Pelosi, help build the wall, instead of building your portfolio for a voters register for illegal voters? We want to know who he became friends with, where did his financing come from? Was it from one of those Mosque’s that teaches to kill American’s, and then gets killed for the virgins and their child raping founder?

    Seriously…………. how does trash get to our shores of Florida. Give him to me…… I will find out ? Does he get assigned contacts from assigned areas to penetrate cause death and destruction.

    Twenty-five years ago, a past FBI Division Manager in Detroit said, the largest concentration on Muslims are in Dearborn, Michigan, and the largest group (29) of FBI agents watched them, and that the FBI was careful not to upset Arab Muslims that are installed across America, because they all have that secret code word, when it is time to attack. Sadly, many, many of these Dearborn, Michigan, citizens work at Detroit International Airport, in every area, including baggage. The secret agents working at the airport are hard at work, mainly with the contraband that has been allowed……….. jewelry has been the main item brought into Detroit.

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