MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man faces federal charges after he allegedly purchased two machine guns from undercover agents as part of a plan to attack a Masonic temple.
Court documents show federal prosecutors charged 23-year-old Samy Mohamed Hamzeh on Tuesday with unlawfully possessing a machine gun and unlawfully receiving and possessing firearms not registered to him. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
According to an FBI affidavit, agents were tipped off in September that Hamzeh planned to travel to Israel in October to attack Israeli soldiers and citizens in the West Bank. He abandoned those plans due to "family, financial and logistic reasons," the affidavit said, but refocused his efforts on a domestic attack.
Hamzeh discussed his plans extensively with two FBI informants. The affidavit said the FBI started recording his conversations with the informants in October.
Hamzeh and the two informants traveled to a gun range on Jan. 19 and practiced with a pistol. Afterward they took a tour of a Masonic temple in Milwaukee. The affidavit does not name the temple. Dean Puschnig, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Greg Haanstad, declined to identify it.
Later on Jan. 19 and into the early morning of Jan. 20, Hamzeh discussed his plans to attack the temple with the informants, telling them they needed two more machine guns - the group apparently already had one - and silencers. They planned to station one person at the temple's entrance while the other two went through the building, killing everyone they saw. They then planned to walk away from the scene as if nothing had happened.
"I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world ... all the Mujahedeen will be talking and they will be proud of us," Hamzeh said, according to the affidavit. "Such operations will increase in America, when they hear about it. The people will be scared and the operations will increase. ... This way we will be igniting it. I mean we are marching at the front of the war."
Hamzeh added that he hoped to kill 30 people. He also said his group was Muslims and they were "defending Muslim religion."
"We are here defending Islam, young people together join to defend Islam, that's it, that is what our intention is," he said.
According to the affidavit, Hamzeh met with two undercover FBI agents on Monday. They presented him with two automatic machine guns and a silencer. He paid for the weapons and silencer in cash and put them in the trunk of his car. The agents then arrested him and recovered the guns and silencer.
Hamzeh's arrest marks the Milwaukee area's second brush with a mass shooting in less than four years. A white supremacist named Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, a Milwaukee suburb, in 2012. Page shot himself in the head after a police officer wounded him.
Richmond reported from Madison, Wis.