One of the defendants in an alleged plot to attack Fort Dix was caught on tape discussing using nail bombs and machine guns for an assault that he said would punish Americans for their arrogance.
Mohamad Shnewer was secretly recorded during a car trip he made to the Army training base in 2006 with government informant Mahmoud Omar. Prosecutors claim the two men used the trip to scout locations on the base where they could launch the attack.
The attack was never carried out and six men, all foreign-born Muslims in their 20s who lived for several years in southern New Jersey, were arrested in May 2007.
One of the men, Agron Abdullahu, a supermarket baker, pleaded guilty last year to providing weapons to some of the others and is serving a 20-month prison sentence.
Plot that wouldn't have existed?
Lawyers for Shnewer, an American citizen who was born in Jordan, and the other suspects — Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka, illegal immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, and Serdar Tatar, a legal U.S. resident born in Turkey — argue it was Omar who tried to create and pull the other men into a plot that otherwise would not have existed.
Shnewer and the other four defendants face charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to murder uniformed military personnel; four of them are also charged with weapons offenses.
All have been in federal custody since they were arrested and face life in prison if they are convicted.
In a videotape shot using a camera mounted in Omar's car, Shnewer remarks that Fort Dix is much more easily accessible than military bases in the Middle East, which are miles from civilian streets — something he attributes to the arrogance of the American military.
"Their noses are up," he says on the recording. "'We are America and no one can hit us.' And we are going to make them think differently, God willing."
'Brains of the operation'
The videotape follows Shnewer and Omar, who is driving, as they get lost on their way to the base. When they finally get there, they sound discouraged as they appear to find no suitable targets.
Then, they pull over to the side of the road and Shnewer looks out the car window and says "This is it."
On the witness stand, Omar said through an interpreter that at that moment a group of Army vehicles passed them going in the opposite direction.
Later in the taped conversation, Shnewer discusses attempting to get a mortar or heavy artillery, and describes to Omar how nail bombs could be left on the road and detonated by remote control while other attackers could spray the vehicles with machine-gun fire.
In one tape segment, Shnewer speaks of Omar as "the brains of the operation."
In other conversations played in court Wednesday, Shnewer suggests the men train in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania during the winter so they won't raise suspicion. He also says he could buy a machine gun for about $400.