During a trip to a Poconos firing range in February 2007, Besnik Bakalli was so concerned about the chaotic shooting and the presence of several teenagers that he called his FBI handler.
"Man, now I am not happy, because 15-year-old kids. They putting no targets, no nothing, just shooting," said Bakalli, an FBI informant. "I swear it's too dangerous in here."
Federal prosecutors have said the trip to the shooting range was training for a mission that five foreign-born Muslim men had hatched to attack Fort Dix.
Three of the defendants - brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka - were among more than a dozen people at the range that day, while Bakalli recorded the events with a body wire.
Defense attorney Rocco Cipparone yesterday scoffed at the notion that such a rowdy day at the range could be considered training. He noted that Bakalli's FBI handler told him to turn off his recorder after he called.
"Your position is that these guys are training for jihad?" Cipparone asked. "In the middle of this training, the FBI agent told you to turn off the recorder? . . . She told you to turn it off after you complained about the disorganization?"
Bakalli, a 31-year-old illegal alien from Albania, befriended the Duka brothers, who are ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia, at the behest of the FBI.
At the time he agreed to cooperate, Bakalli was jailed and facing deportation. In exchange for his help, Bakalli was promised consideration with his immigration status, and the FBI arranged to have his mother and father brought to the U.S.
Bakalli took the stand on Monday. For more than two days, jurors heard the recordings he made.
Bakalli also told jurors about the first time he tried to sneak into the United States in 1999, but was caught at the airport. He applied for asylum, but gave up that request after he learned that a man in Albania was threatening his sister.
Seven hours after returning to Albania, he shot the man who had menaced his sister.
Cipparone quickly jumped on that aspect of Bakalli's life, noting that Bakalli traveled for four days to return home.
"You didn't stop and cool your head, OK, and say, 'I don't want to shoot this guy?' " he asked.
"No, I didn't stop," Bakalli answered.
Cipparone also noted that the defendants never mentioned an attack on Fort Dix or any other target on the recordings he made.
The conversations Bakalli captured, however, are filled with talk of jihad, weapons, war, and the fate of Muslim fighters around the world.
In one conversation played yesterday, Dritan Duka said he was "going to start something."
"We are seven of us. We are stupid, and that's what we need," he said. "You must love your religion and be stupid."
In a later conversation, Dritan Duka said, "I'm ready."
"For now, seven is a lot," he said. "You can do a lot with seven."
Presumably, the seven would have been the five defendants and two FBI informants who infiltrated the group - Bakalli and Mahmoud Omar.
About two months after making that comment, Dritan and Shain Duka were arrested while attempting to buy seven rifles from Omar, with the FBI watching on closed circuit cameras.
In addition to the Duka brothers, Mohamad Shnewer and Serdar Tatar have been accused of plotting to kill U.S. soldiers. The defendants could face life in prison if convicted.
All five were born overseas, but raised in South Jersey.
Bakalli said he grew closer to the Duka brothers after their trip to the Poconos, which came three months before their arrests in May 2007.
In those months, Bakalli said, the Dukas talked more about jihad and their anger at Muslims being killed around the world, especially in wars with the United States.
"It gets me upset once in a while . . . when you see the fighting and we are - " Shain Duka said before Bakalli finished his thought.
"We're in Dunkin' Donuts."
Bakalli also said that they began playing paintball more frequently "to train." On one of the tapes, Bakalli complained that playing paintball "seems to me like nothing."
"You know it's something minor, this is very small," Eljvir Duka said. "The more you fight with paintballs, the more experience. . . . You can see what you need to do to the enemy with tactics."