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Potential Jurors Kept Secret in Fort Dix Plot Trial

Jury selection began under tight security Monday in the federal trial of five men accused of planning an attack on Fort Dix.

Lawyers were expected to take three weeks or more to seat 12 jurors and six alternates. The trial will likely last several months.

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U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler has taken the relatively rare step of keeping the jury anonymous, so even lawyers in the case won't know their names.

Prospective jurors on Monday were filling out their forms in an assembly room, detailing any knowledge of the case and their own biases.

Outside Kugler's courtroom, workers were installing a new metal detector. Already, people entering the courthouse must pass through one. To get to the trial, they'll go through a second.

Lanes of the street in front of the courthouse were also closed as a security precaution.

The government says five men were moving forward with a plan to shoot soldiers on the New Jersey Army installation when they were arrested in May 2007. No attack was carried out and lawyers for the men say there was no plot.

The men — all foreign-born Muslims in their 20s who spent several years in southern New Jersey — are charged with conspiracy to murder soldiers and attempted murder. They'll face life in prison if they are convicted.

Kugler said opening arguments were expected to begin in late October.

Letters were sent to some 1,500 New Jersey residents weeks ago to summon them as potential jurors. Hundreds have already been excused because of schedule conflicts and other hardships.

The suspects are due in court later this week for a hearing over whether prosecutors can introduce evidence that includes one of the men allegedly discussing attacking other sites such as the White House and Philadelphia International Airport.

Fort Dix is used mostly to train reservists for duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.