'Distraught' Dix Six held without bail
Judge calls them dangerous and flight risks; lawyers hint at entrapment defense
ALL SIX MEN arrested in an alleged plot to massacre soldiers at the Fort Dix Army base in South Jersey were ordered held without bail yesterday at a hearing in federal court in Camden.
U.S. Magistrate Joel Schneider said the men posed a danger to the community and might flee if released.
Four of the men consented to be held without bail for now, one argued unsuccessfully for bail and a sixth defendant remains jailed pending a bail hearing next Thursday.
All of the men, described by authorities as "radical Islamists," maintain their innocence. (Three of the men are illegal aliens, one is a U.S. citizen and two are legal residents.)
The men - known as the Fort Dix Six - were said by their court-appointed lawyers to be "somber," "distressed" and "absolutely distraught" at their plight.
Troy Archie, attorney for Cherry Hill roofer Eljvir Duka, 23, of Cherry Hill, said Duka had been unable to speak with his family since his arrest and wasn't permitted to have a copy of the Koran in his cell.
Richard Sparaco, attorney for Serdar Tatar, 23, of Philadelphia, said Tatar feared for his safety if he was released on bail.
Sparaco said that Tatar's father, Muslim Tatar, received "harassing" phone calls earlier this week and that somebody kicked the front door of his South Jersey home late Wednesday night and yelled, "Muslim bastard!"
The elder Tatar operates a pizzeria near Fort Dix.
The Fort Dix Six were arrested Monday night, after two members of the group allegedly were preparing to buy assault rifles from an undercover federal agent.
Five members of the group are charged with conspiring to kill uniformed military personnel, and a sixth is charged with helping illegal aliens obtain firearms.
Federal prosecutors suggested yesterday that a Philadelphia cabbie, Mohamed Ibrahim Shnewer, 22, also of Cherry Hill, steered the plot and "tried to recruit" other plotters. Prosecutor Stephen Stigall said investigators found a map of Fort Dix in Shnewer's house.
Shnewer struck up a relationship with one of the FBI's two paid informants in March 2006, thus enabling the feds to "successfully infiltrate" the group, court papers said.
The other defendants are Duka's brothers Dritan and Shain, also of Cherry Hill, and Agron Abdullahu, of Buena Visita, N.J.
Defense attorneys said yesterday that the credibility and actions of those informants could figure prominently in the defense of the Fort Dix Six.
At issue is whether the informants - who recorded dozens of conversations with the alleged plotters - crossed the line and entrapped the men.
"We'll see if these confidential informants were doing most of the leading in this case," Archie said.
The first the feds had any inkling about the group was Jan. 31, 2006, when a clerk at a Circuit City store in Mount Laurel, N.J., told authorities he had been asked to transfer a jihad training video of the group onto a DVD, court papers said.
A little more than a month later, one of the informants infiltrated the group, an FBI affidavit said.
"I'm anxious to see how someone could infiltrate an alleged terrorist organization 30 days after meeting them," Archie scoffed.
Rocco Cipparone, Shnewer's attorney, said he planned to "look at the motivations of the confidential informants" and listen to recorded conversations they made with his client.
Defense attorneys also said yesterday that they were concerned about whether the Fort Dix Six could get a fair trial in Camden in light of the media scrutiny surrounding the case.
Both Cipparone and Sparaco said the potential pool of individuals in South Jersey from which jurors are selected could be tainted by widespread media publicity. *