Image: Fort Dix plot defendants
Shirley Shepard  /  AP
An artist's drawing showing defendants Shain Duka, bottom left, Eljvir Duka, Dritan Duka, Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer and Serdar Tatar in a federal courtroom in Camden, N.J., on Oct. 20.
updated 12/16/2008 9:57:39 PM ET 2008-12-17T02:57:39

A judge ordered a jury sequestered Tuesday as they begin deliberations in the case of five men accused of plotting an attack on the Army's Fort Dix.

Jurors told Judge Robert Kugler that they wanted to wait until Wednesday to begin deliberations in the case, which mostly focused on hundreds of secret recordings and the credibility of the informants who made them.

Lawyers completed closing arguments in U.S. District Court on Tuesday evening.

The five defendants — all foreign-born Muslims who lived for years in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill — are charged with conspiring to kill military personnel and attempted murder. Four of them also face weapons charges. They face life in prison if convicted.

No attack before arrest
There was no attack before the men were arrested in May 2007.

In his final remarks to the jury Tuesday, Deputy U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick portrayed the case as an example of law enforcement officials averting a potentially deadly attack.

"The FBI investigates crime on the front end. They don't want to have to do it on the back end," Fitzpatrick told the jury of eight women and four men. "They needed to know that these guys, these defendants, did not have another source of supply for weapons. They needed to make sure that these guys aren't going to get weapons from somewhere else and do something right under our nose."

Defense lawyers argued that the men were not seriously planning anything and that two paid FBI informants prodded them toward action.

"We know that this is all political talk by young Muslims in the post-9/11 world," said Troy Archie, the lawyer for defendant Eljvir Duka. "They were angry, yes. ... Did they have an intent to kill? No."

It was a video from the group's January 2006 trip to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania that tipped off authorities and led to the charges.

Shots of 'Allah Akbar' in video
A Circuit City employee told police the men asked him to transfer a video of the trip to DVD, and that it included scenes of the men firing weapons and shouting "Allah Akbar," Arabic for "God is great."

Some of the men returned to the Poconos in February 2007 for training, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hammer said in his closing arguments Monday.

Evidence showed that the men went to gun stores to look for weapons, fired guns at a firing range, played paintball and watched jihadist videos while there.

But Michael Huff, who represents defendant Dritan Duka, said the government has it wrong.

He said the al-Qaida propaganda videos the men watched took up only one hour of the week they spent in the Poconos. He pointed to testimony about other movies they watched, such as an Eddie Murphy concert film.

Huff also reminded jurors of testimony from a Philadelphia police officer who said one of the suspects, Serdar Tatar, invited him on to go with his friends to the shooting range. Neither the officer nor Tatar ended up making the trip.

But it was still relevant, Huff said.

"Are you going to invite a police officer to your jihad training party?" he asked.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments