A federal magistrate judge denied bail yesterday for the man charged with supplying weapons to three alleged terrorists accused of planning an attack on Fort Dix.
Judge Joel Schneider described Agron Abdullahu, 24, as "an important conduit" for helping the others to carry out their plan and said he should be held without bail pending trial.
Schneider issued his ruling following a three-hour hearing in U.S. District Court in Camden that included testimony from three of Abdullahu's family members and an impassioned plea from the defendant.
"I'm not really a bad guy," Abdullahu said in a brief statement in which he appeared to be choking back tears. "If I could go home, I would go back to my old life. . . . I would never do harm to this country that saved my life."
Abdullahu, his parents, two younger brothers and a younger sister were airlifted to the United States in 1999, part of a group of Muslim ethnic Albanians fleeing a genocidal war in Kosovo.
Both his parents and his 21-year-old sister took the stand during the hearing and described him as hardworking, nonviolent and grateful to the United States for what it had done for them.
Sejdulla Abdullahu said his son was "the second father" in the family who provided financial support and guidance to the others.
"He pays the bills. . . . He registers his brothers and sister at school. . . . He was our translator," he said.
Vaxhide Abdullahu said her son worked 60 to 70 hours a week at a bakery in the ShopRite supermarket in Williamstown and was co-owner with her of the family home.
She described the hardships the family suffered in making its way to the United States after the war broke out in their native Kosovo and said that her son knew that "this country saved my family" and he would never do anything to harm it.
But federal prosecutor William E. Fitzpatrick painted a different picture in arguing that there were no circumstances that would warrant Agron Abdullahu's release pending trial.
He said the defendant posed a danger to the community and was a risk of flight.
While acknowledging that Abdullahu was not charged with taking part in the alleged plot to attack Fort Dix, Fitzpatrick said he was aware of it and willingly supplied guns to, and took part in firearms training with, the five men who did plan the assault.
Abdullahu was one of six men arrested on May 7 following a 16-month investigation by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force into the alleged plot.
Five of those arrested, the brothers Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka, and Serdar Tatar and Mohamad Shnewer, have been charged with planning to kill American military personnel.
Abdullahu faces a lesser offense of supplying weapons to illegal immigrants. The Duka brothers, all of Cherry Hill, were living in this country illegally and under federal law could not possess firearms.
When he was arrested at his home in the Collings Lakes section of Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County, Abdullahu gave a statement to the FBI in which he admitted providing the guns for the Dukas, authorities said. He also provided details about two trips to the Poconos - in January 2006 and February 2007 - in which the suspects and others practiced shooting at a state park firearms range and watched videos that authorities allege were "jihadist training films."
At the time of the arrest, the FBI confiscated four weapons in the Abdullahu home, authorities said, including a Beretta handgun, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, a Beretta Storm rifle and a semiautomatic Yugoslavian rifle.
Abdullahu had a license to possess weapons. Two of the guns were his, authorities said, and the other two he was storing for the Dukas. All four weapons, prosecutors said, were brought to the Poconos for the training sessions.