Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fort Dix Terror Plot

FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) - May 8, 2007 - Claiming they were ready to die in the name of Allah, six Islamic militants from Yugoslavia and the Middle East plotted to attack the Fort Dix Army base and "kill as many soldiers as possible," authorities said Tuesday.

The suspects, who also spoke of attacking U.S. warships that might dock in Philadelphia, were arrested Monday night, and were to appear before a federal judge Tuesday afternoon.

"This was a serious plot put together by people who were intent on harming Americans," U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said. "We're very gratified federal law enforcement was able to catch these people before they acted and took innocent life."

One suspect reportedly spoke of using rocket-propelled grenades to kill at least 100 soldiers at a time, according to court documents.

"If you want to do anything here, there is Fort Dix and I don't want to exaggerate, and I assure you that you can hit an American base very easily," suspect Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer said in a conversation last August that was secretly recorded by a government informant, according to the criminal complaint against him.

"It doesn't matter to me whether I get locked up, arrested or get taken away," a suspect identified as Serdar Tatar said in a conversation recorded by the same informant. "Or I die, it doesn't matter. I'm doing it in the name of Allah."

Still another suspect, Eljvir Duka, was recorded by a second informant as saying, "In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone is trying attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Tuesday there is "no direct evidence" that the men have ties to international terrorism.

"They are not charged with being members of an international terrorism organization," Snow said. "At least at this point, there is no evidence that they received direction from international terror organizations."

Asked if those arrested had any links to al-Qaida, Snow referred questions to the FBI and the U.S. attorney, but said those officials "seem to indicate that there is no direct evidence of a foreign terrorist tie."

In court documents, prosecutors said the suspects came to the attention of authorities in January 2006 when a shopkeeper alerted the FBI about a "disturbing" video he had been asked to copy onto a DVD.

The video showed 10 young men in their early 20s "shooting assault weapons at a firing range ... while calling for jihad and shouting in Arabic 'Allah Akbar' (God is great)," the complaint said.

Six of the 10 were identified as those arrested in the plot.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the men viewed Islamic training and weapons videos on the Internet.

"What concerns us is, obviously, they began conducting surveillance and weapons training in the woods and were discussing killing large numbers of soldiers," Boyd said.

The six were scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Camden later Tuesday to face charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. servicemen, said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey. An afternoon news conference was also scheduled with federal authorities.

Officials said four of the men were born in the former Yugoslavia, one in Jordan and one in Turkey. All had lived in the United States for years. Three were in the United States illegally; two had green cards allowing them to stay in this country permanently, and the sixth is a U.S. citizen.

Besides Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, Serdar Tatar and Eljvir Duka, the other three men were identified in court papers as Dritan Duka, Shain Duka, and Agron Abdullahu. Checks with Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka and Shain Duka are illegally living in the United States, according to FBI complaints unsealed with their arrests.

Five of the men lived in Cherry Hill, a Philadelphia suburb located about 20 miles from Fort Dix.

"They were planning an attack on Fort Dix in which they would kill as many soldiers as possible," Drewniak said.

The men also allegedly conducted surveillance at other area military institutions, including Fort Monmouth, a U.S. Army installation, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and a Philadelphia Coast Guard station.

Christie said one of the suspects worked at Super Mario's Pizza in nearby Cookstown and delivered pizzas to the base, using that opportunity to scout out the possible attack.

"Clearly, one of the guys had an intimate knowledge of the base from having been there delivering pizzas," Christie said.

He declined further comment until the 2:30 p.m. news conference.

By March 2006, the group had been infiltrated by an informant who developed a relationship with Shnewer, according to court documents. The informant secretly recorded meetings in August 2006 in which Shnewer said that he and the other suspects were part of a group planning to attack a U.S. military base, the complaints said.

Shnewer named Fort Dix, and a nearby Navy base, explaining that "they could utilize six or seven jihadists to attack and kill at least one hundred soldiers by using rocket-propelled grenades" or other weapons, the complaint said. The Navy base was not named in the complaint.

The men were arrested Monday trying to buy automatic weapons from an FBI informant.

Fort Dix is used to train soldiers, particularly reservists. It also housed refugees from Kosovo in 1999.

At the main gate of the sprawling Army base, military police officers ordered reporters to leave the area immediately.

Meanwhile, the description of the suspects as "Islamic militants" caused renewed worry among New Jersey's Muslim community. Hundreds of Muslim men from New Jersey were rounded up and detained by authorities in the months following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but none were connected to that plot.

"If these people did something, then they deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer who represented scores of detainees after the 2001 attacks. "But when the government says 'Islamic militants,' it sends a message to the public that Islam and militancy are synonymous.

"Don't equate actions with religion," he said.

1 comment:

SerbBlog.com said...

And never once did this article -- nor any news article so far -- tell us the the TRUTH -- These "Islamic militants" "from the former Yugoslavia" are Kosovo Albanians! Their names make it obvious to anyone who knows. Why lie? Because the truth might mess up the PR for Kosovo Albanians getting to rip off a piece of Serbia to create their own country -- a move that has the full support of the US State Department and the support of McCain, Biden, Lantos and Lieberman as well as several other members of Congress.

Help save Christian Kosovo from these terrorists and morons -- and also save America from enabling our enemies. Tell your Senator and Congressional Rep "NO ON KOSOVO INDEPENDENCE!"