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Six Accused of Plot to Attack Fort Dix

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Six Accused of Plot to Attack Fort Dix

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Six Accused of Plot to Attack Fort Dix

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

Six men accused of plotting to attack the Fort Dix Army Base went before a judge today in Camden, New Jersey. The defendants were all born in other countries - one is a U.S. citizen; two are legal residents, and three are here illegally.

Federal prosecutors say the investigators have video and audio recordings of the men, all Muslims, talking about waging jihad and killing American servicemembers.

U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie spoke on the courthouse steps after the appearance by the defendants.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER CHRISTIE (U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey): The philosophy that supports and encourages jihad around the world against Americans came to live here in New Jersey and threatened the lives of our citizens through these defendants. Fortunately, law enforcement in New Jersey was here to stop them.

NORRIS: NPR's Dina Temple-Raston is in Camden and joins us now. Dina, what do the prosecutors say these men were doing?

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, there seems to have been quite an extensive investigation. It actually started 16 months ago. They released a 26-page criminal complaint today. And in the press conference, they said the men not only surveilled military bases but they actually got weapons and even trained for an assault on Fort Dix. Apparently, they picked Fort Dix because one of the men knew it very well because he used to deliver pizzas there.

NORRIS: So a long investigation, how did these men get caught?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, prosecutors are saying the unsung hero in this was a store clerk. Apparently, one of the men brought a videotape into a store to be dubbed to a DVD and that was way back in January '06. This retail clerk saw it while it was being dubbed and called the police who then contacted the FBI. And the video showed 10 young men shooting assault weapons and calling for jihad and shouting Allah Akbar or God is great. And the FBI immediately launched an investigation.

NORRIS: Now you said 10 men in the video, six were in court today?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Yes, they were very careful not to tell us exactly what happened to the other four. It's unclear, they - what they said today was that this was the core group, the soul of this particular operation and they didn't tell us what happened to the other four men.

NORRIS: Dina, could you tell us a little bit more about the evidence that prosecutors say they have against these six men?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, on the surface it seems very extensive. They got someone to actually infiltrate the group and they got audio recordings as they planned and went through different stages of this supposed attack on or alleged attack on Fort Dix. And they also have video of them training and shooting assault weapons when they were up in the Poconos, training for what they said was going to be this assault.

NORRIS: Do you have any idea what their motivation might have been? Why they were planning to attack Fort Dix?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, prosecutors are saying that this is purely an act of jihad, and that didn't have any particular grievance, you know, something personal that made them do this. They said that they weren't connected to bin Laden and weren't connected to any sort of foreign terrorist group. But at the same time, they found a lot of bin Laden and a lot of jihadi videos that they said inspired these men to go and do this.

NORRIS: Quickly, before we let you go, Dina, is there any indication that they might have been targeting any other military bases?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, yes, there is. I mean, in fact, they had been surveilling a number of different bases including a Coast Guard base in Philadelphia. But the reason why - the prosecutor said the reason why they focused on Fort Dix was because one man in particular of this group knew the place like the back of his hand, could draw a map of it and thought that this was the best place for them to have an assault.

NORRIS: And that was based on his pizza deliveries, is that correct?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Exactly. I would assume that there are not going to be a lot of pizza deliveries to military bases any time soon.

NORRIS: Thank you, Dina.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome.

NORRIS: That was NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reporting from Camden, New Jersey.

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