Lawyers: Alleged terrorist suffered from mental issues

June 6, 2014 

TAMPA -- The prosecution is set to wrap up its case Thursday in the case of a would-be Bay area terrorist.

When defense lawyers for Sami Osmakac get the case, they are expected to call witnesses to show the 27-year-old had a mental illness when he tried to hatch a terrorism plot in Tampa.

Osmakac, who was arrested in January 2012, is accused of planning to explode a car bomb outside a Tampa bar, attack the Hard Rock Café, and wanting to blow up Bay area bridges.

In undercover video recordings played in court, prosecutors say Osmakac is heard talking to a man he didn’t know was helping the FBI in their investigation.

Osmakac can be seen in one video holding an AK-47 rifle and trying on a suicide vests.

His lawyers, however, argued that mental illness drove Osmakac to become involved in the plot.

Psychiatrist George Northup testified that Osmakac suffered from schizo-affective disorder, which is described as schizophrenia mixed with depression. Northup said people with that type of disorder are more likely to be convinced by other people.

Osmakac's lawyers cite entrapment, saying their client only went along with the undercover officer's plan and did not have the capability to go through with any terrorist plot.

Lawyers added that family members say Osmakac talked to himself a lot. That is something many people with schizo-affective disorder, according to mental health officials.

Additional doctors are expected to testify today.

Osmakac faces life in prison if he is convicted.

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