TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa man suspected of plotting a mass shooting in support of the terrorist group ISIS has been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial for now.
Muhammed Al-Azhari was arrested in May 2020 for attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the U.S. Justice Department said.
A criminal complaint alleges he had expressed admiration for Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen and spoke of his desire to carry out a similar massacre. The FBI said he researched and scouted potential targets in the Tampa area, including Honeymoon Island.
The complaint said Al-Azhari was an ISIS supporter who served three years in prison in Saudi Arabia after being convicted in 2015 of attempting to join a terrorist organization there.
On Tuesday, Judge Tom Barber said Al-Azhari was not mentally competent to participate in court proceedings at this time. Barber said Al-Azhari must complete competency restoration training, which could take up to eight months. If deemed competent, he can stand trial.
If convicted, Al-Azhari faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.