Connected to Sarasota, Florida and Dearborn Heights, Michigan.
Wissam HAMMOUD was indicted for numerous crimes involved in Operation Hitman.
August 28, 2005
TAMPA - A Sarasota businessman accused of bragging about having ties to a terrorist organization has pleaded guilty to charges that he plotted to kill a federal agent and an informant.
Wissam Taysir Hammoud, 40, pleaded guilty Friday after prosecutors agreed to recommend a reduced sentence and Hammoud agreed to cooperate in unspecified investigations.
Hammoud could receive a sentence of up to life in prison for the charges: solicitation to commit murder, retaliating against a witness, use of a firearm during a crime of violence and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Hammoud, who owned a cell phone business in Sarasota, told investigators he tried to kill the two people because of their involvement in his 2001 conviction for possession and transfer of a machine gun and a sawed-off shotgun after he sold the weapons to the undercover agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Hammoud met in his store with two cooperating witnesses on Dec. 30, 2003, and demonstrated how he wanted the informant shot and killed, according to a signed plea agreement. Eight days earlier, he joked about decapitating the informant and sending his head to the agent's house.
Hammoud once bragged of ties to Hezbollah, according to an affidavit submitted in federal court at the time of his arrest in January 2004. The United States lists Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
Investigators said Hammoud's statements about being involved with Hezbollah weren't confirmed.
"At this point in the investigation, we have not established a credible link to Hezbollah," Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Friday.
Hammoud's attorney, Matthew P. Farmer, has said in court that his client suffers from mental illness. He declined to elaborate.
Hammoud, who wept during Friday's hearing, told U.S. Magistrate Mark Pizzo that he is taking three psychiatric drugs.
By Anthony Summers, Neil Tweedie and Dan Christensen in Miami 18 Feb 2012
The newly-released FDLE documents, meanwhile, contain a disturbing description of Mr al-Hijji by Wissam Hammoud, a Lebanese-born US citizen who is serving a 21-year prison sentence for attempting to murder a federal agent. In an interview in 2004, Hammoud said he was introduced to the al-Hijjis in 1996. He said Mr al-Hijji was once accompanied in Sarasota by a man he identified as Shukrijumah. He claimed that Mr al-Hijji had also spoken about taking flight training at Venice Airport. The report on the questioning states: “Hammoud believes that al-Hijji had known some of the terrorists from the September 11 attacks, who had been taking flight training at Venice Airport.”
JULY 19, 2006--Venice,FL. by Daniel Hopsicker
Assem Hammoud's most intriguing relative in the U.S. is the Dearborn clan member who moved to Sarasota Florida, where he was quite a busy boy...
Wissam Hammoud owned a cell phone store in Sarasota which supplied mobile phones to Mohamed Atta... bragged of helping Hezbollah buy assault weapons and night-vision goggles (the group needed them so they “could kill Jews at night”)... was convicted in February in a Federal Court in Tampa of soliciting the murder and beheading of a Federal Agent...and suspected of having foreknowledge of the 9.11 attack.
“In September 2001, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement interviewed Hammoud because someone had anonymously called saying Hammoud had made a comment that the Oklahoma City bombing was small compared with what was coming,” reported the Tampa Tribune on Jan 6 2004, in a story headlined “Man Bragged Of Ties To Terror, Records Say.”
MARCH 12, 2012
A Saudi man who triggered an FBI investigation after he and his family abruptly exited their Sarasota area home and left the country two weeks before 9/11 considered Osama bin Laden a “hero” and may have known some of the hijackers, an informant told the FBI in 2004.
The informant also told authorities that Abdulazziz al-Hijji once introduced him to Adnan El Shukrijumah — the former Miramar resident and suspected al Qaeda leader who today has a $5 million bounty on his head.
The FBI and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Wissam Taysir Hammoud at the Hillsborough County Jail on April 7, 2004. Broward Bulldog obtained Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports about the interview and the investigation using the state’s public records law.
Hammoud, 46, who once owned a cell phone business in Sarasota, is serving 21 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2005 in federal court in Tampa to weapons violations and attempting to kill a federal agent and a witness in an earlier case against him. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons classifies him as an “International Terrorist Associate,” court records show.
Hammoud reaffirmed his previous statements about al-Hijji to the FBI in recent interviews.
Al-Hijj’s name made headlines in September when Broward Bulldog and The Miami Herald reported on a counterterrorism source’s disclosure of a previously unknown FBI-led probe that followed the attacks on New York and Washington — one that pointed to a possible Saudi support operation for the hijackers in Florida.
A decade after the nation’s worst terrorist attack, which claimed the lives of 3,000 people, al-Hijji has now been found to be living in London where he works for Aramco Overseas, the European subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state oil company. His job title is career counselor.
In an email to London’s Daily Telegraph, which worked the story with Broward Bulldog, al-Hijji acknowledged Hammoud had been his friend. In a brief interview outside his office, Al-Hijji also said he did not know Shukrijumah. “The name doesn’t ring a bell,” he said.
While living in Florida, al-Hijji attended Manatee Community College (now the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota) and, from January 2000 until April 2001, the University of South Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in management information systems awarded in August 2001.
Hammoud, who said he met al-Hijji through relatives, said the two men worked out together at Shapes Fitness in Sarasota and played soccer at the local Islamic Society. He told the FBI Al-Hijji was “very well schooled in Islam” and that “Osama bin Laden was a hero of al-Hijji.” He added that Al-Hijji showed him a “website containing information about bin Laden,” and spoke of “going to Afghanistan and becoming a freedom fighter.” Al-Hijji also tried to recruit him, Hammoud said.
According to Hammoud, al-Hijji also talked of “taking flight training in Venice.” He said he believed “al-Hijji had known some of the terrorists from the September 11, 2001 attacks” who were students at an airport there.
Hammoud said al-Hijji “entertained Saudis at his residence” at “parties” that he himself did not stay for because – unlike al-Hijji as he remembered him – he “did not drink or smoke cannabis.” One Saudi Hammoud identified as an al-Hijji “friend” he brought to a soccer game at the Sarasota mosque in 2000 or 2001 was Shukrijumah.
Hammoud’s wife and sister-in-law confirmed during recent interviews that they too knew the al-Hijjis and are familiar with elements of Hammoud’s account. Mrs. Hammoud, who asked that her full name not be used, got the impression from comments al-Hijji made that he was “anti-American.” Hammoud himself, speaking from prison in recent days, said al-Hijji “had a lot of hatred towards everyone in America.” He said he had thought al-Hijji “nuts” when he asked him to go fight in Afghanistan.
Al-Hijji, while confirming he used to work out with Hammoud, described his life in Sarasota as quiet, centered on his wife and children.
“My friends were very limited,” he explained. “Normally, I don’t hold parties in the house because I have little kids. I was not a frequent to any bars.”
Hammoud has named several FBI agents that he claims to have dealt with while attempting to assist the government in its fight against terrorism. One was Miami Special Agent Kevin Griffin, best known locally for undercover work that put former Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher in prison in 2010.
Hammoud’s current attorney, Detroit’s Sanford Schulman, said FBI agents have met with Hammoud on multiple occasions.
“There have been about 10 different agents, and that’s just the ones that I’ve been involved with. They were not two minute meetings either,” said Schulman, who did not attend but was notified of the meetings.
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Hammoud was also involved in a 1999 incident at Tampa International Airport when two men were stopped attempting to board a Spirit Airline's flight with more than 11 pounds of ammunition, the FBI agent said. The men, Ahmad Nassar and Mohamad Saad, gave the ammunition to Hammoud when airlines employees refused to allow them to bring it on the flight.
When airline personnel wanted to search the men's bags, Hammoud told Saad and Nassar not to let the bags be searched, Baugher said in his affidavit. The men eventually relented and employees discovered an assault weapon, a rifle, ammunition and other gun-related equipment.
It was not clear if the men faced any charges stemming from that incident.
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
TAMPA -- A Sarasota businessman accused of planning to kill an informant and an undercover federal agent bragged of ties to the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah and told a witness that he wanted to bomb a federal office building in Sarasota, according to court records released Monday.
Wissam Taysir Hammoud, 38, owner of a cell phone business on North Washington Boulevard in Sarasota, faces a bail hearing in U.S. District Court today. He is being held at the Hillsborough County jail, charged with possession of a firearm and a silencer and solicitation to commit murder.
Hammoud, who lives in the 7800 block of Cavanaugh Way in Sarasota, allegedly plotted to kill the informant and an undercover agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives because he was angry about their role in his 2001 conviction on weapons charges.
Hammoud also planned to kill the agent's wife and children and either kill or kidnap the informant's girlfriend, according to court records. He was arrested Friday, the day he was scheduled to complete a one-year house arrest sentence for the 2001 weapons case, in which he was convicted of selling a machine gun to an undercover federal agent.
Authorities were slated to remove an ankle monitor from Hammoud on Friday, according to an affidavit prepared by FBI Special Agent Thomas R. Baugher.
Hammoud is also alleged to have told an unnamed witness on Dec. 23 that he wanted to blow up a building housing a federal agency in Sarasota with a truck loaded with propane gas and explosives.
That day, the witness allegedly saw in Hammoud's garage parts needed to convert weapons from semi-automatic to automatic, as well as other weapon parts. Hammoud described the garage as a workshop to make guns, according to the affidavit.
The court affidavit says Hammoud told another unnamed witness in March that he belonged to Hezbollah, that he had shipped night vision goggles to Hezbollah so they "could kill Jews at night," and that he had helped Hezbollah buy assault weapons.
In June 2001, the affidavit says, Hammoud told an undercover ATF agent that he had shipped weapons to and negotiated arms deals in Lebanon.
Federal authorities Monday declined to say whether they can link Hammoud to Hezbollah.
"The affidavit reflects that he has made certain statements, but as to the validity of those I can't comment," said Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Tampa.
In September 2001, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement interviewed Hammoud because someone had anonymously called saying Hammoud had made a comment that the Oklahoma City bombing was going to be small compared to what was coming. Hammoud told agents that he had said that Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, could be considered a martyr for his stand against the U.S. government, according to Baugher's affidavit.
Interview in jail:
On 04/07/2004, Special Agent Leo Martinez (FBI) and Detective Michael Otis (Sarasota County SO) conducted an interview at the Hillsborough County jail, of inmate Wissam Hammoud.
During the interview with Hammoud, he spoke of his association with ABDULL AZIZ ALHIJJI, a Saudi who had lived in Sarasota. He advised that this subject had lived on Escondito Drive in the Prestancia subdivision with his family. In August of 2001, ABDULL AZIZ ALHIJJI and his family left the United States.
Hammoud stated he met ALHIJJI through his own relatives in Sarasota, (the Kazbour’s) in 1996. He described ALHIJJI as a heavy drinker and smoker of cannabis, however very well schooled in Islam. Hammoud indicated that ALHIJJI’S wife ANWD GHAZZAWI (maiden name) had family that provided her with money, however ALHIJJI claimed that he received none of this money from his wife. Hammoud advised that ALHIJJI had been attending Manatee Community College (MCC). Hammoud claimed that he often worked out with ALHIJJI at Shapes Fitness located near his residence in Prestancia.
Hammoud advised that in 2000 and 2001, he had played soccer with ALHIJJI at the property of the Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton, located on North Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota. ALHIJJI had brought with him a friend to the soccer games. Hammoud advised that this friend was ADNAN EL SHUKRIJUMAH, who the FBI is seeking information on. Hammoud identified ADNAN EL SHUKRIJUMAH from an FBI flyer that was brought to the interview by his attorney, Matthew Farmer.
Hammoud stated that on two occasions prior to September 11th, 2001, ALHIJJI had entertained Saudi’s at his residence in Sarasota. Hammoud advised that he did not stay for any of these parties because he did not drink or smoke cannabis. Hammoud advised that ALHIJJI traveled on a weekly basis to either the Tampa or Orlando area. He would also travel to the Venice area and spoke to Hammoud about taking flight training in Venice. Hammoud believes that ALHIJJI had known some of the terrorist from the September 11th 2001 attacks, who had been taking flight training at Venice Airport during that time.
Hammoud stated that OSAMA BIN LADEN was a hero of ALHIJJI and that ALHIJJI had shown him a web site containing information about BIN LADEN. Hammoud advised that ALHIJJI would speak of going to Afghanistan and becoming a freedom fighter or Mujahedin and wanted Hammoud to also go and become a freedom fighter.
During the interview, Hammoud was questioned concerning knowledge of a subject residing in Sarasota named MOHAMED MEZROUB. Hammoud stated that MEZROUB was a friend of ALHIJJI, and that he had also talked about going to Afghanistan to fight for the Mujahedin.
Hammoud advised that he and his wife had helped ALHIJJI and his wife AHWD, by clearing the residence on Escondito Drive in Sarasota, and putting their belongings in storage after they left the country. The Hammoud’s were asked to sell one of ALHIJJI’S vehicles, a Volkswagen Beetle, and send them the proceeds when this was done.
Hammoud indicated that ALHIJJI is working for a Saudi owned oil company named ARAMCO, which has a branch office in Texas. Hammoud advised that after ALHIJJI left the United States in August of 2001, he went back to Saudi Arabia. Hammoud indicated that he was then transferred to an office in London. Hammoud advised that ALHIJJI’S mother DEBBI ALHIJJI lives in Saudi Arabia. He provided a home phone number for her.