One of the men accused of plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix asked a federal judge Thursday to drop references to Al Qaeda and other "inflammatory" language from an indictment and dismiss a number of the charges.
The pretrial filing by defendant Dritan Duka also said a federal jury should not hear statements he made to the FBI following his arrest in which he discussed access to weapons. His attorney said he was not properly advised of his right to remain silent.
Motions from Duka's co-defendants in the case are expected to be filed before Saturday.
Federal prosecutors would not comment until filing their responses, which are due July 18, said Greg Reinert, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The filings should give perhaps the clearest picture yet of how the defense lawyers will try to poke holes in the government charges against Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, Serdar Tatar and the brothers Eljvir, Shain and Dritan Duka.
All five are foreign-born Muslims — three born in the former Yugoslavia — who have lived much of their lives in the southern New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia.
Dritan Duka's filing objected to allegations that the defendants were inspired by al-Qaida, saying they are "irrelevant, inflammatory and are placed into the indictment in order to incite prejudice and bias against the defendants and deprive them of a fair trial."
The five men facing trial in U.S. District Court in Camden in late September were arrested in May 2007. Federal authorities said the arrests prevented an attack on Fort Dix, a New Jersey Army installation used primarily to train reservists and members of the National Guard for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The men are charged with attempted murder of military personnel, conspiracy to murder military personnel and weapons offenses. If convicted, they could face life in prison.
The government built its case with the help of two paid informants. Defense lawyers are expected to attack their credibility.
Authorities have said the suspects often watched terror training videos, clips featuring Osama bin Laden, a tape containing the last will and testament of some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, and tapes of armed attacks on U.S. military personnel.
Defense lawyers have portrayed their clients as men who liked to shoot guns — not terrorists.
A sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, arrested with the others, pleaded guilty to providing weapons to illegal immigrants. He is serving a 20-month prison sentence.