No word yet on whether they’re freelance or part of a cell, but there’s a presser scheduled for this afternoon at 2:30.
Six people were arrested on Monday in connection with an alleged plot to murder as many soldiers as possible at Fort Dix, according to various media sites.
The men, ethnic Albanians, allegedly attempted to purchase automatic weapons from an arms dealer working with the FBI and were arrested in New Jersey after officials learned of the plans, a law enforcement source said…
Officials raided the homes of the men, described as Islamic radicals, and said there is video showing some of the alleged planning.
Standby for updates.
Update: The article originally described them as “ethnic Albanians” but now it’s been updated to say they’re from what used to be Yugoslavia. By way of background, AQ has been working for awhile on recruiting “white Muslims” from Bosnia to stage attacks in the west because they blend in better in western societies.
Update: Looks like they were most interested in military targets, which makes me suspect they weren’t part of AQ:
Investigators told Newschannel 4’s Jonathan Dienst that these arrests are the result of a tip to the FBI and use of an informant to track the suspects. The terror suspects traveled over the last several months from New Jersey to the Poconos where they practiced firing automatic weapons, investigators said.
Investigators said the group discussed targeting numerous locations like Dover Air base, Fort Monmouth and several Coast Guard stations before deciding on Fort Dix as their intended target. Fort Dix is run in part by the Army and is a reserve-training center, but active units take part in training, including some which focuses on counter-terrorism.
Update: Details galore from the Newark Star-Ledger:
The would-be attackers, ethnic Albanians who had been under surveillance by the FBI for months, practiced by shooting paintball guns and real weapons in a rural area of the Poconos, one source said. They also allegedly watched jihadist videos in which Osama bin Laden urged them toward martyrdom.
“They were prepared to die,” said the law enforcement source. “We became increasingly convinced this was for real and these guys were ready to roll.”…
The men – several of whom were in the same family – had videotaped their practice sessions in the Poconos, the source said. That videotape, in which they railed against America, led to their arrests.
The men made the mistake of bringing it to a retail store seeking to get a copy burned to a DVD, according to one of the sources. A store employee who later watched the tape called the FBI who began immediately investigating.
Needless to say, that last detail also makes me think they’re not AQ.
Update: ABC News has a teaser up about one of the suspects being a pizza delivery man who had access to the base.
Update: Three of the men were brothers. I wonder how they hooked up with the other three.
Three high-level law enforcement sources told ABC News that the investigation into the plot had been ongoing for 15 months. Four of the six suspects were born in Yugoslavia, one was born in Jordan and the other in Turkey. All were U.S. residents…
[Fort Dix] was chosen because one cell member’s family owned a pizza parlor near the base and that member was able to enter the base to deliver pizza. The group believed this access would enable its attack to succeed.
Update: No ties to any international terror groups, according to CBS News. It was homegrown.
Update: Fox News updates its report with a quote from source saying they’re all recent converts. Really? The guys from Jordan and Turkey, too?
Update: Spruiell issues a broad strata alert after catching a few cops — and CNN, of course — politely ignoring the organizing principle here.
Update: Just across on Fox News — at least three of the suspects are here illegally, which contradicts ABC News’s report that all were U.S. residents. Reuters doesn’t give a number but quotes a spokesman from the U.S. Attorney’s office as corroborating Fox’s report. Some are illegal, some are U.S. citizens.
Update: MM sends the link to the criminal complaint (in PDF form). The suspects:
Dritan Duka (illegal alien)
Eliver Duka (illegal alien)
Shain Duka (illegal alien)
Update: On page 7 of the complaint, it says 10 men were identified in the DVD shot at the training camp. Shnewer appears to have been the ringleader; Abdullahu may or may not have been a sniper in Kosovo. Fort Dix hosted several thousand Albanian refugees from Kosovo in 1999.
Update: On page 21, there’s a reference to attacking American warships docked in the port of Philadelphia followed by some talk of training for overseas jihad, then followed on the next page by the bright idea to wage jihad right here at home — including possibly joining the military so that they could frag people instead. They were keen on getting AK-47s too, and there’s a mention of rocket-propelled grenades towards the end.
Update: According to CBS News, Shnewer is from Jordan and is the lone U.S. citizen of the six; Tatar, from Turkey, and Abdallahu, from the former Yugoslavia, are legal permanent residents. The Duka brothers are also from Yugoslavia and, as previously mentioned, are here illegally.
Update: Here we go with this Orwellian crap already:
The description of the suspects as “Islamic militants” renewed fears in 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 was 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.