The mother of a man accused of planning a mass shooting at a Masonic temple in Milwaukee says her son was set up by the FBI.
Despite a federal criminal complaint describing Samy Mohamed Hamzeh as a Muslim extremist, Khawla Hamzeh said her 23-year-old son is immature, not very religious and was just trying to convince his friends he was tough.
"He's not mature. You know guys, they want to show they are brave," she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Hamzeh, who was born in New Jersey, has been charged with unlawfully possessing a machine gun and receiving and possessing improperly registered firearms, and is accused -- but not indicted -- of planning to attack a downtown Masonic center and kill 30 people.
Hamzeh was originally being held at the Waukesha County Jail before being moved to the Kenosha County Jail. A source told WITI-TV Wednesday Hamzeh was placed on suicide watch after making threats to himself and to staff members at the jail. Hamzeh’s next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9.
According to court documents, FBI agents were tipped off in September that Hamzeh planned to travel to Israel to attack Israeli soldiers and citizens in the West Bank. He abandoned those plans due to "family, financial and logistic reasons," instead focusing his efforts on a domestic attack.
Hamzeh was arrested Monday, after he paid two undercover FBI agents for two automatic machine guns and a silencer and put them in the trunk of his car.
During his court appearance Tuesday, he told U.S. Magistrate Judge David Jones that he had read and understood the federal complaint filed against him, but that he doesn't agree with it. The hearing was closed to the media, but the newspaper obtained an audio recording of the hearing and posted it on the newspaper's website.
Khawla Hamzeh said she was constantly reminding her son to pray and didn't like his violent video games. But she said he was a loving son who hugged and kissed her often.
"I can't believe this is my son. Everybody in Milwaukee loves Samy," his mother told the newspaper. "He never fights with anyone."
She believes her son was set up and led astray by the FBI.
"The first day he tell his friend he want to do something, take him to the jail. Take him to the doctor. They watch him for months!" she said. "Why (would the FBI) sell my son the gun?"
The Hamzehs are from Jordan and have moved back and forth to the United States.
Samy Hamzeh was supporting his family because his father was having trouble finding steady work since moving to the U.S. last spring, his mother said.
Khawla Hamzeh said her son wasn't acting any differently when she made him breakfast Monday. He didn't have mental health problems, she said, although he was worried about money since he supported the family and had recently been fired from his job as a trainer.
"He spent his money for us. He'd say, `Mama, take this money. Just give me $10,' " she said. "He pay $900 for the house, $120 for the gas and electricity. When he stopped working, he feel very sad."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.