COOKSTOWN, N.J. - The father of one of the six men described as radical Islamists and charged with plotting to massacre soldiers at Fort Dix says the business he's nurtured for years is all but ruined since his son's arrest.
Muslim Tatar, who has owned Super Mario's Pizza for five years, says that his lunchtime crowd from nearby McGuire Air Force Base and Fort Dix has largely disappeared, replaced by empty tables and nasty words from passing motorists.
"Now I am a target," Tatar, 52, told The New York Times, adding that his business is "99 percent dead."
Tatar's son, 23-year-old Serdar Tatar, was arrested Monday along with five others.
Authorities say the men were preparing to buy automatic weapons to use in an attack on Fort Dix when they were arrested. They targeted the Army post, which is 25 miles east of Philadelphia and primarily used to train reservists, partly because one of them had delivered pizzas there and was familiar with the base, according to court filings. Authorities said their objective was to kill "as many American soldiers as possible."
Five of the men are charged with conspiring to kill uniformed military personnel, an offense punishable by life in prison. In addition to Tatar, they are Mohamed Ibrahim Shnewer, 22; Dritan "Anthony" or "Tony" Duka, 28; Shain Duka, 26; and Eljvir "Elvis" Duka, 23.
Agron Abdullahu, 24, is charged with helping illegal immigrants obtain weapons, and could face 10 years in prison if convicted.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Associated Press in Venice, Italy, that the arrests were a "vivid example" of the terror threats facing the world. He declined to comment further on the case, saying it was ongoing.
All six defendants appeared in a Camden court Friday, where a judge denied them bail.
Since authorities announced the arrests on Tuesday, Tatar's father has had a cook and two waitresses quit out of fear they would be targeted, said Warren Cline, another cook at the pizzeria.
"Normally we'd be almost full," Cline told The Star-Ledger of Newark. "People liked this place, and Tatar is a very friendly owner. But people drive by; they give us the finger."
Cline said delivery business is also hurting since the restaurant can no longer bring food to Fort Dix, about three miles away, or McGuire.
Federal authorities say there is no evidence that the elder Tatar knew of his son's plot, and Muslim Tatar said their relationship had waned in recent years, as his son had fallen in with what he described as a bad crowd.
Muslim Tatar came to Cherry Hill from Turkey in 1992, working his way up from a dishwasher and saving enough to buy Super Mario's five years ago. A few years ago, Tatar says, his son, who went to high school with several of his alleged coconspirators, fell in with the wrong people and soon moved to Philadelphia.
"I have no idea of this problem," Tatar said of his son's role in the alleged plot. "I'm shocked. I'm very shocked."
After receiving death threats, Tatar decided he had to take some sort of action to protect his business. Outside the restaurant, he hung a sign reading: "Under New Management." *