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Last witnesses heard in Fort Dix case

Testimony in the Fort Dix case wrapped up yesterday with the defense calling just two witnesses, both of them computer experts.

Testimony in the Fort Dix case wrapped up yesterday with the defense calling just two witnesses, both of them computer experts.

Prosecutors rested their case on Tuesday.

None of the five men accused of plotting an armed attack on the Army base decided to take the stand, leaving jurors to decide their fate without hearing from them in person.

During eight weeks of the prosecution's case, the jurors heard days' worth of the men's conversations, secretly recorded by two FBI informants.

In those conversations, the men talk repeatedly about waging jihad in the U.S. and abroad. They discussed potential targets and how to acquire weapons.

One of the defendants, Mohamad Shnewer, drove past Fort Dix and other military installations on what prosecutors called reconnaissance missions.

And the men fired weapons in the Poconos and played paintball - actions prosecutors called training for their mission.

But the defense has argued throughout the case that the men never went beyond talking tough, and they never formulated a plan to do anything. There was no conspiracy, the defense said, to kill U.S. soldiers.

The defense now has to rely mostly on those arguments - and on their attacks against the paid, confidential informants - to win acquittals for the five defendants, all foreign-born Muslims raised in South Jersey.

Closing arguments are slated for Monday and Tuesday. The jurors will be sequestered during their deliberations.

The defendants - Shnewer, Serdar Tatar and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka - face life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.

Only Troy Archie, the attorney for Eljvir Duka, chose to put on any evidence in the case.

He called two computer experts, one a professor at Drexel, to talk about the Internet searches of his client.

Prosecutors said Eljvir Duka downloaded online maps, similar to Google maps, which showed the area around Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base.

Drexel professor Thomas J. Smith said Duka had been searching for an auto-body shop and was looking at maps around the shops that his inquiry produced.

Smith explained that online mapping sites send maps to your computer in sections, or tiles, which the computer stitches together to form the map requested.

"There's lot of map tiles that appear accidentally because they happen to be geographically next to each another," he said.

There was no evidence on Duka's computer that he searched for maps or anything else related to Fort Dix, Smith said.

But the prosecution recalled its own FBI computer analyst, who said Duka had zoomed the map on to the Fort Dix area. The mapping tiles of the Fort Dix area showed a closer view than other tiles on Duka's computer, the FBI analyst said.