A counter-terrorism expert who has studied the online propaganda of al-Qaeda said today in the Fort Dix trial that jihadist videos found on two of the defendants' computers constituted "some of the classics put out by these organizations."
Prosecutors have accused the five defendants -- all foreign-born Muslims -- of plotting an armed attack on Fort Dix inspired by radical Islamic dogma and imagery, largely accessed through the Internet. The five men are not accused of having any connections to foreign groups, but rather of being an example of homegrown domestic terrorism.
The counter-terrorism expert, Evan Kohlmann, said al-Qaeda became a much smaller, isolated organization after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He said al-Qaeda has turned to the Internet to disseminate its philosophy and encourage jihad around the world by following al-Qaeda's example.
"If you believe what we believe in, you can become a part of us without ever speaking to us once," was how Kohlmann described al-Qaeda message and strategy. "This has now become a philosophy."
He said that, in his opinion, the videos the defendants were watching and the radical lectures they were listening to were "a recipe for disaster."
The defense has argued the defendants were tough-talking, alienated young men who had no intention of ever carrying out an attack.
"While it's tough to really assess how sophisticated people are until they carry out an attack ... you don't have to be sophisticated to kill people," Kohlmann said. "It really comes down to intent."