Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pentagon: Fort Dix Terror Plotters Sentenced

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2009 -- The last of five defendants found guilty in a terror plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., were sentenced today, with four to serve the rest of their lives behind bars and one sentenced to 33 years in prison.
  • Mohamad Shnewer, who a federal judge described as the “epicenter” of the plot, was sentenced in New Jersey earlier today to life plus 30 years in prison.

  • Serdar Tatar, a convenience store clerk in Philadelphia who provided the other conspirators a map of Fort Dix, received a 33-year sentence today.

  • Three brothers involved in the plot -- Dritan Duka, 30, Shain Duka, 28, and Eljvir Duka, 25 -- received life sentences yesterday without the possibility of parole.

Federal prosecutors said the five men, all Muslim immigrants arrested in Cherry Hill, N.J., in May 2007, were planning to attack Fort Dix and military personnel.

Assistant Attorney General Patrick Rowan said as the guilty verdicts were rendered that they underscore the need for continued vigilance against homegrown terror threats.

Although the defendants weren’t members of an international terror organization, “their involvement in weapons training, their surveillance of domestic targets and their discussions of killing U.S. military personnel posed a serious threat that required the law-enforcement disruption and the prosecutions upheld by the jury today,” he said.

A 16-month FBI investigation led to the suspects’ arrests May 7, 2007, as Dritan and Shain Duka tried to buy three AK-47 assault rifles and four semi-automatic M-16s from a confidential government witness.

“They identified their target, they did their reconnaissance, they had maps, and they were in the process of buying weapons,” Jody Weiss, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Philadelphia, said a day after the arrests.

“Today we dodged a bullet,” Weiss added. “In fact, when you look at the type of weapons this group was trying to purchase, we may have dodged a lot of bullets.”

(Report by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service.)

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