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Tampa man indicted for trying to help ISIS and firearm offenses

Posted at 3:08 PM, Jun 26, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. – A Tampa man is being indicted for trying to help the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and violating the U.S. firearm laws.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), 23-year-old Muhammad Al-Azhari was charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization – in this case, ISIS – and violating the National Firearms Act. If convicted, Al-Azhari faces up to 40 years in federal prison.

Al-Azhari had previously acquired a Glock pistol and a silencer and had "expressed admiration for Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen" and was looking to "carry out a similar mass casualty shooting," according to DOJ.

Al-Azhari was taken into FBI custody on May 24 after he took possession of weapons.

Just days after his May 2020 arrest, Al-Azhari’s sister, Heba, tried to attack a Temple Terrace police officer with a large knife.

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Surveillance video from outside the building on May 29 showed Heba Al-Azhari holding a large "butcher knife" in her right hand as she lunged toward the officer.

The officer, after telling Al-Azhari to drop the knife repeatedly, shot the 21-year-old woman, police said. Heba Al-Azhari was then taken to the hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

DOJ explained in a press release that an indictment is “merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.”