PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Six suspected Islamic radicals have been arrested on allegations of plotting an attack on New Jersey’s Fort Dix army installation with the aim of killing as many soldiers as possible, officials said on Tuesday.
Four of the suspects were born in Yugoslavia, one in Jordan and one in Turkey, said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s office in Newark, New Jersey.
The arrests were made on Monday night in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, by FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, said a spokesman for the Cherry Hill police.
“They were plotting to make an assault on Fort Dix with the intention of killing as many US soldiers as possible,” Drewniak said.
The statement called the suspects “Islamic radicals.”
Drewniak said some of the suspects were US citizens and others were illegal immigrants. They are scheduled to be charged with terrorism offenses in US District Court in Camden, New Jersey, later on Tuesday, Drewniak said.
UPDATE: KYW’s Paul Kurtz reports from the federal courthouse in Camden, NJ that the six men — shackled and handcuffed, and dressed in olive green prison coveralls — made their initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon. The next proceeding, a bail hearing, was scheduled for Friday, with a subsequent court date at the end of the month.
KYW’s Ed Kasuba reports that four of the men arrested are from Cherry Hill, NJ. Three — all with the last name of Duka — were living in a home on Mimosa Drive in Cherry Hill (right) and were in this country illegally. Officials say one of the six is from Williamstown, NJ, one from Pennsauken, and one from Philadelphia. All are foreign born (one from Jordan, one from Turkey, and the rest from the former Yugoslavia). Some are now US citizens.
All six are described by authorities as “Islamic radicals.”
KYW’s Steve Tawa reports the investigation began in January of 2006, after a retail store clerk alerted the FBI about what was called a “disturbing” video he was asked to copy onto a DVD. The video depicted 10 young men shooting assault weapons at a firing range in militia-like style, while calling for “jihad” and shouting in Arabic, “Allah akbar” (God is great).
The FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force immediately began an investigation, and two months later a cooperating witness successfully infiltrated the group. He recording conversations with the targets of the investigation during meetings and telephone calls. Federal investigators say the group wanted to use seven “jihadists” to attack and kill at least 100 soldiers by using rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, and other weapons.
One of the defendants allegedly told a cooperating witness that “you can hit Fort Dix very easily.” Another defendant used to deliver pizzas to Fort Dix; his family owns a pizzeria near the base. The government believes the suspects also cased the US Army base at Fort Monmouth, NJ; Dover Air Force base in Dover, Del.; and the US Coast Guard building on Delaware Avenue in South Philadelphia. The federal criminal complaint also quotes the men as talking about attacking US warships that might dock in Philadelphia during the Army-Navy game. [via KYW]