Five Muslim immigrants accused of scheming to massacre U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix were convicted of conspiracy Monday in a case that tested the FBI's post-Sept. 11 strategy of infiltrating and breaking up terrorist plots in their earliest stages. The men could get life in prison when they are sentenced in April . . .
Convicted were: Shnewer, a Jordanian-born cab driver; Turkish-born convenience store clerk Serdar Tatar; and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia, who had a roofing business. A sixth man arrested and charged only with gun offenses pleaded guilty earlier . . .
"These criminals had the capacity and had done preparations to do serious and grievous harm to members of our military," Ralph Marra, the acting U.S. attorney for New Jersey, said after the verdict . . .
Prosecutors said the men bought several assault rifles supplied by the FBI and that they trekked to Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains to practice their shooting. The government also presented dozens of jihadist speeches and videos that the men supposedly used as inspiration.
According to prosecutors, the group chose Fort Dix because one of the defendants was familiar with it. His father's pizza shop delivered to the New Jersey base, which is 25 miles from Philadelphia and used primarily to train reservists for duty in Iraq.
The group's objective was to kill "as many American soldiers as possible," prosecutors said.
The reaction from CAIR was predictable. "Many people in the Muslim community will see this as a case of entrapment. From what I saw, there was a significant role played by the government informant," said Jim Suess, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Other Muslims suggest the men were just joking about an attack. "I don't think they actually mean to do anything," said Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union. "I think they were acting stupid, like they thought the whole thing was a joke." "Faten Shnewer, the mother of defendant Mohamad Shnewer, said the informants should be the ones in jail." "Not my son and his friends. It's not right, it's not justice," she said after the verdict. The government "sent somebody to push him to say something; that's it."