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FBI: Milwaukee man planned mass shooting at Masonic temple

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WAUKESHA COUNTY, Milwaukee — A 23-year-old Milwaukee resident charged with illegally possessing machine guns had planned a massacre at a Masonic temple in the city, federal officials said Tuesday.

Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was arrested Monday after buying two automatic weapons and a silencer from undercover agents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin said in a statement.

Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, was arrested on weapons charges. Federal authorities accuse him of planning to attack a Masonic temple in Milwaukee. (Waukesha County Sherrif’s Department )

Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, was arrested on weapons charges. Federal authorities accuse him of planning to attack a Masonic temple in Milwaukee. (Waukesha County Sherrif’s Department )

The investigation thwarted an attack “that could have resulted in significant injury and/or loss of life,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Shields said in the statement announcing the arrest.

It was not immediately clear whether Hamzeh has retained legal representation.

A criminal complaint released by prosecutors alleges that Hamzeh toured a Masonic center in Milwaukee earlier this month with two confidential sources and then detailed plans for an attack in a meeting with them later that night.

Hamzeh allegedly said he was defending Islam and that he hoped to kill at least 30 people, according to the complaint.

The complaint contains chilling excerpts of comments allegedly made by Hamzeh, captured in a recording and translated from Arabic into English.

“If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100% ….100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world,” he said at one point, according to the complaint.

At another point in the conversation, Hamzeh allegedly discussed the roles he and other attackers would play.

“One of us will stay a the door at the entrance and lock the door down, he will be at the main door down, two will get to the lift up, they will enter the room, and spray everyone in the room. The one who is standing downstairs will spray anyone he finds. We will shoot them, kill them and get out,” Hamzeh said, according to the complaint. “We will walk and walk, after a while, we will be covered as if it is cold, and we’ll take the covers off and dump them in a corner and keep on walking, as if nothing happened, as if everything is normal.”

FBI agents had been investigating Hamzeh since September after a source reported that he was planning to conduct an attack on Israelis in the West Bank, according to the complaint.

“Hamzeh abandoned these plans for family, financial, and logistic reasons. Thereafter, Hazeh refocused his plans on an attack in the United States,” the complaint alleges.