Fort Dix terror plot suspects file pretrial motions

Men accused of plotting to kill soldiers atFort Dix asked a federal judge Thursday to drop references toal-Qaida and other "inflammatory" language from an indictment,dismiss a number of the charges, bar use of some of thegovernment's evidence and move the trial away from southern NewJersey. Pretrial motions from Dritan Duka, Serdar Tatar and MohamadIbrahim Shnewer were filed Thursday; additional motions from thetwo other defendants are expected to be filed before Saturday. Federal prosecutors would not comment until filing theirresponses, which are due July 18, said Greg Reinert, a spokesmanfor the U.S. Attorney's Office. The filings give perhaps the clearest picture yet of how some ofthe defense lawyers in the case will try to poke holes in thegovernment charges. The five men facing trial in U.S. District Court in Camden inlate September were arrested in May 2007. Federal authorities saidthe arrests prevented an attack on Fort Dix, a New Jersey Armyinstallation used primarily to train reservists and members of theNational Guard for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. All five are foreign-born Muslims - three born in the formerYugoslavia - who have lived much of their lives in the southern NewJersey suburbs of Philadelphia. The men are charged with attempted murder of military personnel,conspiracy to murder military personnel and weapons offenses. Ifconvicted, they could face life in prison. The government built its case with the help of two paidinformants. Defense lawyers are expected to attack theircredibility. Authorities have said the suspects often watched terror trainingvideos, clips featuring Osama bin Laden, a tape containing the lastwill and testament of some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, and tapes ofarmed attacks on U.S. military personnel. Dritan Duka's filing objected to allegations that the defendantswere inspired by al-Qaida, saying they are "irrelevant,inflammatory and are placed into the indictment in order to inciteprejudice and bias against the defendants and deprive them of afair trial." Duka also said a federal jury should not hear statements he madeto the FBI following his arrest in which he discussed access toweapons. His attorney said he was not properly advised of his rightto remain silent. Tatar asked a judge to throw out evidence - including bullets -gathered in searches of his car and home. He said there was nowarrant for one search and that agents used misleading informationto obtain a warrant for the other. He is using the filing, though, to try to show that he was notpart of a plot or even in contact with the other men in the monthsleading up to the arrests. It quotes a conversation in whichShnewer is heard telling a government informant, "I think hechanged his mind because now he has a wife and a stepson." Tatar made a number of other motions, including asking that aletter purportedly written by suspect Eljvir Duka to another inmateat the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia be excluded fromevidence. It said, in part, "now you see why we're going tosacrifice all for the sake of allah in jihad." Tatar objected tobeing included with the "we" in the letter. Citing heavy media coverage in southern New Jersey, Shnewerasked for the trial to be moved elsewhere. Defense lawyers have portrayed their clients as men who liked toshoot guns, but were not terrorists. A sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, arrested with the others, pleadedguilty to providing weapons to illegal immigrants. He is serving a20-month prison sentence.

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