The attorney for one of the men accused of plotting an armed attack on Fort Dix argued in motions filed in federal court today that references to al-Qaeda in the indictment are unnecessary and inflammatory to a jury.
The five men accused in the plot are set to stand trial in September. They could face life in prison if convicted of planning to kill U.S. soldiers.
Prosecutors said in the indictment that the men "were inspired by, among others, al-Qaeda."
Michael Huff, attorney for Dritan Duka, said that references to al-Qaeda and terrorist attacks against the United States were "hardly necessary to prove the elements" of the alleged crimes.
"As a consequence, this language may lead to a verdict based on emotion rather than fact," Huff wrote.
Motions from all five defendants are due by tomorrow, and prosecutors are scheduled to respond next month.
Huff's motions are the only ones filed so far.
He also asked for dismisal of some the charges and the suppression of evidence, including statements Duka gave to the FBI about his access to weapons. Huff said Duka wasn't properly advised of his rights before talking to agents.
He also asked for evidence from electronic surveillance collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to be thrown out.
A FISA warrant's primary purpose, Huff said, is to target foreign intelligence and achieve international objectives.
"Mr. Duka and his friends are certainly not foreign powers," Huff wrote. "Instead, they are taxi cab drivers, pizza delivery boys and roofers."
All of the defendants are foreign-born Muslims who have lived much of their lives in the South Jersey and the Philadelphia suburbs. Prosecutors said they planned to use a pizza-delivery pass to get on the base at Fort Dix and open fire.
The defendants include Duka and his brothers, Shain and Eljvir, all of whom are illegal immigrants from the former Yugoslavia; Mohamed Shnewer, a U.S. citizen born in Jordan; and Serdar Tatar, a legal U.S. resident born in Turkey.
A sixth man charged in the case, Agron Abdullahu, was sentenced in March to 20 months in prison for allowing the Duka brothers to fire his guns during trips to the Poconos.
Prosecutors have characterized those shooting range trips as training for their mission. The defense has said it was nothing more than rowdy boys playing with guns in the woods.
Dritan and Shain Duka were arrested in May 2007 at a meeting with a confidential FBI informant, who was supposed to supply them with guns.
Huff reiterated in his motions that the guns "were for target practice and sport."
"There was no conspiracy in which to utilize these weapons," he said. "The only conspiracy was between the confidential informants and the government."