An inmate who was discovered watching an al-Qaeda DVD at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia initially said that Mohamed Shnewer, one of the men charged with plotting an armed attack on Fort Dix, had given it to him.
That led federal prosecutors to say Shnewer might be trying to recruit others at the jail to his cause.
Now that inmate, Andre Henry, has said that he found the DVD untended in the jail law library and "it was none other than the FDC staff that permitted me to view [the DVD] in an attempt for my cooperation."
The dueling claims have been made in the continuing argument over whether the five Fort Dix defendants should be allowed bail.
Though U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler is unlikely to allow the men to go free, he ordered a bail hearing after persistent complaints about their treatment at the jail.
The hearing was held yesterday in federal court in Camden, but Kugler adjourned the proceedings until Jan. 3 after more than two hours of testimony.
The arguments have shed an unusual amount of light on the inner workings of the detention center and how five of the region's most notorious defendants are living and preparing for their case in custody.
The suspects - Shnewer, a U.S. citizen born in Jordan; Serdar Tatar, a legal U.S. resident born in Turkey; and Cherry Hill brothers Shain, Eljvir and Dritan Duka, all illegal immigrants from the former Yugoslavia - have pleaded not guilty.
They were accused of planning to use a pizza delivery pass to get onto the Army base, where they would open fire on soldiers.
A sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, a refugee from Kosovo who lived in Atlantic County, was accused of supplying guns to three of the defendants. He pleaded guilty in October.
The remaining five defendants have said they cannot prepare for trial and review the voluminous evidence against them because they are being held in a restrictive special housing unit at the jail.
But last week, prosecutors said in court filings that the men were too dangerous to be held anywhere else and were certainly too dangerous to be given bail.
That's when they said that the DVD - which is evidence in the case - had made its way into the hands of another inmate.
Prosecutors also provided a copy of jailhouse correspondence known as a "kite," which they said Eljvir Duka had passed to another inmate.
In that letter, Duka wrote that "we were going to sacrifice all for the sake of Allah in jihad."
In a court filing, Tatar said that Duka would argue that the other inmate forged the document.
"I have grave concerns that other inmates . . . are attempting to gather information about my case and then are notifying the government," Tatar said.
Shnewer raised the same concern in a court filing, even identifying the jailhouse term for it, "jumping on a case."
He also denied giving the DVD to Henry, who is awaiting trial on gun, carjacking and robbery charges in a series of bank and fast-food restaurant hold-ups.
Jail officials said Henry found the DVD in a law book. Defense attorneys said Henry admitted to having "serious psychiatric problems."
Kugler, who had pushed for a fast trial, seemed most concerned that the defendants have ample opportunity to prepare for trial. Yesterday, he asked the jail's attorney to look into whether the men could keep laptops in their cells.
The defendants have said that their written requests to leave their cells to review evidence - called "cop-out" slips - are often ignored.
Prosecutors said the five haven't taken advantage of the several special accommodations the jail has made for them, including the conversion of a jail staff room into a "conference room" solely for the defendants' use.
Earlier this month, the jail said it would begin a Monday-through-Friday schedule of allowing the men to review evidence for eight hours a day.
Tatar said the jail was just offering more "empty promises."
"This is a blatant attempt to take the wind out of the sails of my argument for bail and the court should not be so fooled," he wrote.