HADDONFIELD, New Jersey – Federal authorities say one of the men accused of planning an attack on soldiers at the Fort Dix army base gave another inmate in a federal detention center an Al Qaeda recruitment video and another wrote a note referring to the fight "we weren't able to finish."
The U.S. Attorney's Office made the allegations in a brief filed in U.S. District Court late Tuesday to oppose the suspects' request to be granted bail.
A lawyer for one of the men said the government is misrepresenting an incident in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia.
The suspects contend that the detention center staff has not allowed them adequate access to evidence in the case against them as they prepare for trial. That is why they have asked a judge to either allow them to be free on bail or come up with alternate arrangements to allow them to review materials for the trial, which is scheduled to begin March 24.
The five men — all foreign-born Muslims in their 20s — were arrested in May and charged with conspiring to kill uniformed military personnel. Authorities said they planned to sneak onto Fort Dix, a base in New Jersey used primarily to train reservists for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There was no attack, however.
A sixth man later pleaded guilty to providing weapons to some of the five charged in the alleged conspiracy.
In the legal filing, the government said Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer gave another inmate a copy of an Al Qaeda-produced DVD last month. Guards found the disc in a book in the detention center's law library.
Government lawyers said in the filing that "the fact the defendant Shnewer and, perhaps, his co-conspirators may be spreading jihadist recruitment videos to other inmates clearly raises grave security concerns for the warden, and, again, supports the reasonableness of continued administrative detention for these defendants."
Shnewer's lawyer, Rocco Cipparone, said Shnewer told him 10 days or so ago about the incident. But Cipparone said Shnewer did not give the other inmate the video. Rather, he said, Shnewer was upset that the man somehow got hold of evidence that only the defendants in the case were supposed to see.
The government also said that suspect Eljvir Duka and another inmate were passing notes.
In one note, the government said, Duka wrote, "Now you see why we were going to sacrifice all for the sake of Allah in jihad" and referred to the fight "we weren't able to finish."
The government said detention center staff confronted Duka about the notes. According to the filing, he acknowledged he was passing them but said they only dealt with "issues such as the quality of the food" behind bars.
Duka's lawyer, Troy Archie, did not immediately return a voice mail or e-mail message Tuesday night.
The government also said the five men have had access to the evidence when they requested it.
The five suspects include three ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia, a Jordanian and a Turk.
A hearing on the men's bail motion is scheduled for Dec. 20.