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Hard Rock Tampa: ISIS Acolyte Planned Atrocity, Gets 18 Years

Tiffany Burroughs
Updated: 8 August 2023
2 min to read

Prosecutors say that Mohammed Momtaz Al-Azhari, an ISIS supporter from Florida, intended to carry out a mass shooting in the city of Tampa, and had Seminole Hard Rock Casino on his list of potential targets.
Muhammed Al-Azhari, ISIS, Tampa, Hard Rock

On Thursday, Muhammed Al-Azhari was sentenced to 18 years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to providing guns and money to a Jihadist terror organization. Al-Azhari had previously been arrested by the FBI in May 2020, on suspicions of scoping out Tampa Bay-area sites for a mass-shooting attack, including Honeymoon Island, Bayshore Boulevard, Hard Rock Intl [as shown above], and the FBI’s Tampa Field Office. According to court filings, Al-Azhari had expressed a desire to kill “at least 50” individuals, including his own father, whom he referred to as “infidels”. He had been previously imprisoned by the Saudis.

Imprisoned by Saudis

Just weeks before his arrest, Al-Azhari purchased an Uzi, a bullet-proof vest, and a drone, and also attempted to order firearm parts and a silencer from eBay. When agents seized his cellphone, it was revealed that he had filmed a mock rehearsal of himself carrying out a massacre. Additionally, Al-Azhari discussed at the Home Depot store where he worked that those who perished in the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9-11 “got what they deserved,” and expressed admiration for Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. During his teenage years in 2015, Al-Azhari had attempted to reach Syria in order to join ISIS, however he was apprehended by Saudi authorities and then tortured. His defense lawyer proclaimed last year that this ordeal triggered pre-existing mental health problems, leading Al-Azhari to “experience visual hallucinations and to talk to people who were not there.” In the end, Al-Azhari entered a Guilty Plea.

Guilty Plea

Prosecutors said that the Federal authorities began an investigation on Al-Azhari in December 2018 after the Saudis had shipped him back to the US. Court documents suggested that Al-Azhari’s paranoia and hallucinations escalated after his release, causing him to be in constant fear of being killed by either the FBI or Saudi spies. A US district judge ruled in the beginning that Al-Azhari was not capable to stand trial, however five days after his arrest, his sister, Heba Momtaz Al-Azhari, was killed in Temple Terrance, FL after attacking a police officer with a knife. This event prompted a review of his initial ruling which resulted in him pleading guilty to the charges in February of this year and being handed a sentence of 18 years followed by lifetime supervised release.

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Updated: 8 August 2023
2 min to read

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