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Federal judge upholds guilty verdicts in Fort Dix conspiracy

[JURIST] A federal judge at the US District Court for the District of New Jersey [official website] on Thursday upheld the guilty verdicts [text, PDF] reached by a jury against five men convicted of plotting to kill US soldiers at Fort Dix [official website]. The five men, Serdar Tatar, Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka, and Shain Duka, were acquitted of attempted murder, but were convicted [DOJ press release; JURIST report] in December 2008 of conspiracy to commit murder and weapons offenses. Lawyers for the five men appeared before the court Thursday to argue that the claims against their clients [case materials] were not supported by the evidence [AP report] presented, and asked the court to overturn the verdicts. The court denied the request, and upheld the jury verdicts. The defense had argued that there was no plot, but the government paid informants to get the accused to discuss one.

Federal prosecutors maintained that although the men had no ties to any terrorist organization, they were inspired by al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and were planning an attack. The men face a sentence of up to life in prison. The five suspects were arrested [JURIST report] in May 2007 for allegedly plotting to sneak onto the New Jersey military base and kill soldiers. They pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] in January 2008. Their trial began [JURIST report] in October. Last March, an accomplice, Agron Abdullahu, was sentenced [JURIST report] to 20 months in prison after pleading guilty [JURIST report] to charges of conspiring to provide firearms and ammunitions to the other five men.

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