US mass shooting plans thwarted

  • 27/01/2016
Hamzeh was arrested on Monday after buying two machine guns and a silencer from undercover FBI agents (Getty file)
Hamzeh was arrested on Monday after buying two machine guns and a silencer from undercover FBI agents (Getty file)

A man who US authorities say was planning to kill dozens of people in a mass shooting in Wisconsin has been arrested and charged with possession of two machine guns and a silencer.

Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, told two people who turned out to be FBI confidential sources that he planned to carry out the shooting at a Masonic temple in Milwaukee, in an attack that would be "known the world over" and in order to "ignite broader clashes", the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

Authorities did not indicate whether Hamzeh is a US citizen, but he was arrested on Monday after buying two machine guns and a silencer from undercover FBI agents during a meeting that included the FBI sources, authorities said.

The officials said Hamzeh had been under investigation since September and had first considered an attack on Israelis in the West Bank but decided instead to plan an attack in the US.

He abandoned that plan because of family, financial and logistical reasons, according to a criminal complaint.

Hamzeh enlisted the help of two people he did not know were confidential sources for the FBI, and the trio had conversations in Arabic about plans to attack the temple, prosecutors said.

"We are Muslims, defending Muslim religion, we are on our own ...," he said, according to the complaint.

On January 19, the three practised firing a handgun at a range and then took a guided tour of the Masonic temple to learn when and where people would be meeting, the criminal complaint said.

Hamzeh told the others they each needed to have a machine gun and a silencer, the Justice Department said.

During their discussions about the attack, Hamzeh said he envisioned one person guarding the temple's main door while the others went upstairs to kill people in a meeting, according to authorities.

"I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world," Hamzeh told the sources, according to the Justice Department.

"Sure, all over the world, all the mujahedeen will be talking and they will be proud of us."

A Masonic temple is a meeting place for Masons, members of a fraternal organisation.

AAP