Authorities said they first learned about the men in January 2006, when a clerk at a Circuit City store in Mount Laurel called local police, saying he had seen a "disturbing" video that one had tried to have duplicated. The video allegedly showed men carrying automatic weapons and shouting jihadist slogans.
The South Joint Terrorism Task Force, led by the FBI office in Cherry Hill, conducted a 16-month investigation, trailing the suspects, sometimes 24 hours a day. It used a paid informant to infiltrate the group, and he recorded dozens of incriminating conversations with the men, the FBI said. Authorities say the men were preparing to buy automatic weapons to use in an attack when they were arrested.
Defense lawyers said yesterday that they planned, as they do in similar cases, to review the conduct and character of the informant.
"There's some concerns there, as there always are," said Michael Reilly, who represents Shain Duka, 26. A third Duka brother, Dritan, 28, is also charged.
Of the five men charged with conspiring to kill uniformed military personnel, three are ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia. One is from Jordan; the other from Turkey.
A lawyer for Serdar Tatar, 23, told a tangle of reporters afterward that he was worried about the media exposure in the case.
"Obviously, there are major concerns about a fair trial," Richard Sparaco said.
Tatar, who was authorized to deliver pizzas at Fort Dix, is alleged to have provided the map to Shnewer.
Since the arrests were made public on Tuesday, Tatar's father, Muslim Tatar, who owns the pizzeria near Fort Dix, has been the victim of a racial attack, the lawyer said.
"His door was kicked and someone shouted a racial slur," said Sparaco. "His wife is back in Turkey, in the hospital. She had a nervous breakdown."
As family members and friends entered the courthouse yesterday, they were hounded by photographers, and taunted by a man who screamed at them to plead guilty.
If convicted, the Duka brothers, Shnewer and Tatar face about eight years' imprisonment, under federal sentencing guidelines.
A sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, 24, is charged with helping illegal immigrants obtain weapons. He faces less time, and the judge set a second bail hearing for him for Thursday.