CAMDEN, N.J. - Five men accused of planning an attack on an Army training base in New Jersey were inspired by Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, a prosecutor said Monday during opening statements in their terrorism trial.
Authorities said that in 2006 and 2007, the men turned paint-ball games into terrorist training sessions and met to discuss a plot to sneak into Fort Dix, used primarily to train reservists for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. No attack was carried out.
"Their motive was to defend Islam. ... Their intent was to kill members of the United States armed services," Deputy U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick told the jurors.
The men, all foreign-born Muslims in their 20s -- are charged with conspiring to murder military personnel, attempted murder and weapons offenses. Their trial is expected to last into December. They were arrested in May 2007.
Lawyers for Serdar Tatar, Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka countered that the defendants were not planning anything.
The defense lawyers also began attacking the credibility of two paid FBI informants at the heart of the case, saying both had criminal pasts and vested interest to make it look like there was a plot. They said one informant, Mahmoud Omar, will have been paid $238,000 by the end of this year for his help in the case, and the other, Besnik Bakalli, was motivated by the hope of getting legal residency status in the United States.