Sister of Florida terror suspect,’who wished to emulate Pulse nightclub shooter and supported ISIS’ is shot dead by police officer, after she lunged at him wielding a butcher knife
Heba Momtaz Al-Azhari, 21, was shot and killed by Temple Terrace, Florida, police on Friday after attacking officer with a knife
She was the sister of Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari, 23, who was arrested May 1 and charged last week with attempting to provide material support to ISIS
Surveillance video shows Heba lunging at officer armed with a butcher knife outside Temple Terrace City Hall
Family spokesperson later said the Heba Al Azhariwas upset over her brother’s arrest
Muhammed Al-Azhari is accused of trying to buy weapons, including assault-style rifle, and scouting potential targets for an attack in Tampa Bay area
Al-Azhari served three years in Saudi prison for plotting to travel to Syria with his father to join terror group and participate in jihad
He was deported back to the US in 2018 after completing his sentence
FBI says Al-Azhari told informant he wanted to kill at least 50 people and expressed admiration for Pulse shooter Omar Mateen
His phone was allegedly found to contain videos of Al-Azhari rehearsing what he would say when carrying out an attack
Knife-wielding woman lunges at cop before being shot dead, in Florida on Friday
The sister of a Florida man recently arrested on terrorism charges was shot and killed by police on Friday while charging officers while armed with a butcher knife outside a government building. The incident which happened outside the Temple Terrace City Hill was caught on surveillance video.
Temple Terrace Police Chief Kenneth Albano confirmed during a news conference that the officer-involved shooting occurred at the City Hall building.
Heba Momtaz Al-Azhari, 21, arrived at City Hall Friday at around 1pm and asked for an officer’s help, officials said.
When a uniformed officer went outside and approached the woman seeking help, instead she charged at him with a knife.
This makes the second member of the Al-Azhari, to be caught up in security issues in as many weeks.
A still from the surveillance video captured the moment Heba Momtaz Al-Azhari [seen sitting down], allegedly launched a knife attack on the unsuspecting police officer outside the Temple Terrace City Hall in Florida, on Friday
Heba Al-Azhari [in dark Arab garb], reportedly asked for a police officer’s help. When he approached as she was sitting on a bench, she pulled out a large butcher knife and charged him with stabbing and chopping motions
This screenshot shows the Heba al-Azhari wearing a mask closes in on the officer with the knife held threateningly in her right hand on Friday afternoon. family spokesperson told Spectrum Bay News 9 Heba was upset over her brother’s arrest.
The deadly confrontation took place just days after Heba’s brother, Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari, 23, was arrested on federal charges of attempting to provide material support to ISIS.
According to the US Department of Justice, Muhammed admired Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen and allegedly told an informant he wanted to die like him after killing dozens of people.
His sister’s knife attack was captured on surveillance video, which opens with Heba Al-Azhari sitting on a bench.
A uniformed officer comes up to the woman wearing traditional Muslim garb and a face mask. Moments later, she jumps to her feet brandishing a long knife in her hands and lunges at the cop, who draws back.
The woman pursues him, making thrusting and slashing motions with the knife, as if trying to stab the officer.
The 30-second video released by the police department ends with another officer pointing his gun at someone.
Multiple cops responded to the scene and fired at Al-Azhari.
According to the chief, the officer repeatedly and loudly told Al-Azhari to drop the knife.
The chief did not say how many officers were involved, how many fired their weapons or how many times the woman was shot. The officer who was attacked did fire his weapon, Albano said.
‘It’s a very traumatic thing for an officer to pull his weapon and much less take a life,’ Albano said at the press conference.
Before she was stopped by police bullets, Al-Azhari who appeared at city hall pretending to seek help from officers, is seen pursuing the officer with the knife in her hand outside the City Hall
The officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the knife attack, according to police, He is reported to have discharged his weapon as well
A federal criminal complaint released by the US Department of Justice charged Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari, a US citizen, with attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The charge carries a potential 20-year prison term.
A public defender listed in court records for Al-Azhari said the government’s charges in the case unfairly attempt to portray him as a terrorist.
‘The allegations misunderstand both the law and the evidence,’ said the public defender, Samuel Landes, in an emailed statement. ‘I’m thankful that in this country everyone enjoys a presumption of innocence, and I look forward to Mr. Al-Azhari’s day in court before a jury of his peers.’
An FBI affidavit says Al-Azhari was recorded as expressing admiration for Omar Mateen, the mass shooter who carried out a massacre at the Orlando Pulse nightclub in 2016 before being killed by police, and even drove there to scope out the location.
In a conversation with a confidential informant, the FBI says, Al-Azhari said ‘that’s how I want to die, to be honest.’
The informant then asked how many people Al-Azhari wanted to kill.
The affidavit also details how Al-Azhari negotiated with an undercover FBI employee to purchase a variety of guns and silencers, including an AK-47-style rifle. He was arrested Sunday after taking possession of weapons allegedly to be used in an attack.
‘We are grateful for the hard work and swift action by our law enforcement partners and concerned citizens during this investigation,’ said US Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, whose district includes Tampa. ‘Their coordination and cooperation in this matter allowed us to interrupt a serious threat, without harm to anyone.’
According to the 62-page FBI affidavit, Al-Azhari scouted a number of targets in the Tampa Bay region, including multiple beaches, Honeymoon Island State Park and even the Tampa FBI field office.
He also allegedly rehearsed what he would say when carrying out an attack, some of which was intercepted by electronic surveillance on May 16.
‘Know America. Today is your emergency. Today we kill from you guys like you killed from us,’ he is overheard saying, according to the affidavit. ‘This is a revenge for Muslims.’
‘Hey you, get on the floor. Get on the floor now. Don’t you move, don’t you move, I’m telling you, I will kill you,’ he says on the video.
Then, Al-Azhari looks into the camera and says: ‘God willing, the exalted. This is revenge for my brothers Al Muwahideen [the monotheists] in Guantanamo in general, and for my brother [redacted] in particular. …this is a revenge for all my Muslim brothers in Iraq and al-Sham [Syria] and everywhere.’
He then points the gun at what is presumed to be someone on the floor and says: ‘those who were killed by the hands of those filthy crusaders.’
Al-Azhari had previously been convicted in Saudi Arabia in 2015 of terror-related crimes, including attempting to travel to Syria to participate in jihad and join a terrorist group along with two others, including his own father.
He served three years in prison in Saudi Arabia and then was deported back to the US, according to the FBI. He lived in California and since 2019 in the Tampa area.
A key to the case was an eBay transaction in which Al-Hazhari purchased weapons parts for $375 from someone in Texas.
The package was halted by the US Postal Service and eBay flagged the purchase. The seller then provided FBI agents with details about the deal and the Postal Service seized the package.
According to the affidavit, FBI has been aware of Al-Azhari since at least May 2019.
Prior to his arrest of the state charge, FBI agents interviewed some of his co-workers at the home improvement store, who expressed concern about statements that the suspect had made concerning Islam, guns and violence.
A supervisor told agents that when speaking about the September 11 attacks, Al-Azhari had said that he believed that Americans got what they deserved that day, according to the affidavit.
The same supervisors also allegedly overheard Al-Azhari speaking to other co-workers about jihad, saying that it involved ‘defending Islam.’
Another colleague at the Home Depot had reported Al-Azhari to corporate security, claiming that he tried to convince his co-workers to convert to Islam, and that he ‘spoke negatively and passionately about the United States and homosexuality.’
Al-Azhari was arrested on Sunday and was being held in the Pinellas County jail at the request of federal agents.
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