I am scared.
by Aimeyir, the Rant Queen - Posted Tue May 8, 2007 @ 12:07 PM
From the wcbstv.com website:
"(CBS/AP) CHERRY HILL, N.J. Six men described by federal prosecutors as "Islamic militants" have been arrested on charges they plotted to attack the Fort Dix Army post and "kill as many soldiers as possible," federal authorities said Tuesday.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Tuesday there is "no direct evidence" that the men have ties to international terrorism.
"They are not charged with being members of an international terrorism organization," Snow said. "At least at this point, there is no evidence that they received direction from international terror organizations."
Asked if those arrested had any links to al-Qaida, Snow referred questions to the FBI and the U.S. attorney, but said those officials "seem to indicate that there is no direct evidence of a foreign terrorist tie."
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the men viewed Islamic training and weapons videos on the Internet.
"What concerns us is, obviously, they began conducting surveillance and weapons training in the woods and were discussing killing large numbers of soldiers," Boyd said.
The six were scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Camden later Tuesday to face charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. servicemen, said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey. An afternoon news conference was also scheduled with federal authorities.
Officials said four of the men were born in the former Yugoslavia, one in Jordan and one in Turkey. All had lived in the United States for years. Three were in the United States illegally; two had work permits and the sixth is a U.S. citizen.
The men were identified in court papers as Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka, Shain Duka, Serdar Tatar and Agron Abdullahu. Checks with Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka and Shain Duka are illegally living in the United States, according to FBI complaints unsealed with their arrests.
Five of the men lived in Cherry Hill, a Philadelphia suburb located about 20 miles from Fort Dix.
"They were planning an attack on Fort Dix in which they would kill as many soldiers as possible," Drewniak said.
A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because documents in the case remain sealed, said the attack was stopped in the planning stages.
The men also allegedly conducted surveillance at other area military institutions, including Fort Monmouth, a U.S. Army installation, the official said.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie told him one of the suspects had a job delivering pizzas to the base and used that opportunity to scout out the possible attack.
"He delivered pizzas to the base and that gave him the ability to map out the who, what, where, when and why of their activities," Smith said.
Smith said the men had been under surveillance for 16 months and practiced their attacks in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. He said they also watched Osama bin Laden videos.
Smith said they videotaped their practice sessions, and got caught when they brought it to a retail store to get copied onto a DVD. A store employee saw the tape and contacted the FBI, Smith said.
The men were arrested Monday trying to buy automatic weapons. The sale was a set-up by law enforcement authorities who had been investigating the men.
Fort Dix is used to train soldiers, particularly reservists. It also housed refugees from Kosovo in 1999.
At the main gate of the sprawling Army base, military police officers ordered reporters to leave the area immediately.
U.S. Rep. James Saxton, who represents Fort Dix, said the base, along with adjacent McGuire Air Force Base, has been on its highest security alert level.
"This serves as a stark reminder that the threat of jihadists around the world and even here at home is very, very real," Saxton said. "It is not a threat that exists only in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East."
Jeff Sagnip, a spokesman for Saxton, said Fort Dix typically has 15,000 people, including 3,000 soldiers, while McGuire, which is adjacent to Fort Dix, has about 11,500 people.
Soldiers at Fort Dix have been training for warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sagnip said.
"Everything is a replica of what they would face in the field," he said.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the once-open Fort Dix has been closed to the public. There are heavily armed guards at entrances, along with X-ray machines
Yet the main road through neighboring Cookstown cuts through the base and is accessible to the public. A half-dozen locations on the base, including at least two where soldiers were conducting maneuvers Tuesday morning, were only a few hundred yards off the main road and accessible to anyone.
James Logston, a retired military employee from Mount Holly who worked at a military base in California, said determined terrorists probably could succeed in attacking a U.S. military base.
"It could happen, sure," he said at a convenience store just outside the base's main gate. "After a while, people start getting slack and something could happen. This day and age, nothing surprises you."
Debbie Vesper, who works at a school just outside the main gate, also was not surprised Fort Dix was targeted.
"It seems these days they want to be a threat to something a large as possible, an entire institution rather than just a small threat," she said.
The description of the suspects as "Islamic militants" was causing renewed worry among New Jersey's Muslim community. Hundreds of Muslim men from New Jersey were rounded up and detained by authorities in the months following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but none were connected to that plot.
"If these people did something, then they deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer who represented scores of detainees after the 2001 attacks. "But when the government says 'Islamic militants,' it sends a message to the public that Islam and militancy are synonymous.
"Don't equate actions with religion," he said."
I saw this this morning as my boyfriend was getting ready to go off to work at Fort Dix, where he works as a medical hold transport dispatcher. If these lunatics hadn't been caught, I could have been making funeral arrangements today. Why do people think that doing things like this is justified in any way? Hurting innocent people? Why? I just...I can't write anymore, I'm just in shock.