PRISTINA, Kosovo — Sami Osmakac, the man accused by U.S. authorities of plotting to bomb Florida nightclubs and a sheriff's office, met with radical Islamists during visits to his native Kosovo, a senior official in the country said Wednesday.
International agencies had alerted Kosovo authorities that Osmakac could be linked to Islamist extremists, the official told The Associated Press. He said the 25-year old naturalized U.S. citizen discussed "issues in support of radical elements" with the individuals he met, but declined to disclose further details.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.
U.S. authorities say Osmakac planned to use a car bomb and other weapons in an Islamist-inspired attack in the Tampa area of Florida. He was arrested Saturday — the day officials said he was planning his attack — after he allegedly bought disabled explosive devices and firearms from an undercover agent.
Osmakac lived with his parents in a tan stucco home in Pinellas Park, Fla., a small city west of Tampa. He worked occasionally at the Balkan Food Store and Bakery in St. Petersburg, a small store owned by his parents.
He also occasionally visited his Kosovo, where he still has relatives.
Osmakac's aunt, Time Osmankaj, told the AP on Tuesday that Sami Osmakac was last in Kosovo in October 2011, but that she learned of his visit from neighbors and that he did not contact her or other relatives. Kosovo authorities also recorded earlier visits in May 2011.
Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians are overwhelmingly Muslim and a small minority is Roman Catholic.
The population is a staunch supporter of the U.S. because of America's lead role in NATO's 1999 bombing of Serb forces that drove them out of Kosovo and ended a brutal crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.