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Tampa Terrorism Case Raises Questions Of Surveillance, Searches, Mental Illness

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Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Terrorism Case Raises Questions Of Surveillance, Searches, Mental Illness

Muhammed Al-Azhari is accused of plotting a mass shooting in the name of ISIS. His lawyers have challenged the FBI’s investigative tactics.

by Dan Sullivan

TAMPA — A year ago, federal prosecutors accused a Tampa man of plotting a mass shooting in support of the ISIS terrorist group.

FBI agents in a criminal complaint described Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari’s collection of a bulletproof vest, an Uzi submachine gun, a silencer and firearm parts, among other items.

They said he perused Islamic State chat rooms, researched the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, and explored Honeymoon Island and other popular Tampa Bay locations as they said he planned a similar massacre.

Since Al-Azhari’s arrest in May 2020, his case has moved quietly through federal court, with defense attorneys raising questions about the tactics investigators used to monitor him and search his belongings.

Late last month came a new wrinkle: His defense says he might be mentally unfit for trial.

Court records detail a complex investigation amid flurries of pretrial litigation.

Full story https://www.tampabay.com/news/hillsborough/2021/12/30/tampa-terrorism-case-raises-questions-of-surveillance-searches-mental-illness/