Published October 30, 2008
CAMDEN, N.J. – Fort Dix terror plot suspect Mohamad Shnewer was full of ideas for attacking Americans and how to get the weapons to do it.
On Thursday, jurors heard about many of them as they listened to secret recordings made by Mahmoud Omar, a paid FBI informant, for a third straight day.
Shnewer and four other men — all foreign-born Muslims in their 20s who lived for years in southern New Jersey — are on trial on charges of conspiracy to kill American military personnel, attempted murder and weapons offenses. No attack was carried out.
During one recorded brainstorming session, made during a drive to Delaware's Dover Air Force Base in August 2006, Shnewer talks about methods of destruction and ways to get weapons — shooting at the fuel tanks of jets; buying guns from drug dealers or military personnel; robbing a gun shop of weapons.
As they arrive at Dover Air Force Base, Shnewer declares it a poor target. "Specifically, what are you going to hit?" he asks. "You really can't."
The men turn around soon after that.
As they drive, Shnewer asks in Arabic, "How many gun shots does it take to blow up the gas tank of a jet?"
"It depends, Mohamad," Omar answers.
Omar is more enthusiastic about another suggestion.
"Buildings only," Shnewer says. "Suicide attack."
He goes on to suggest stealing a tanker truck and driving it into a building.
By the time the men are approaching Philadelphia on their way home, they discuss hitting several targets in Philadelphia such as the U.S. mint, a federal courthouse, Independence Hall and a Coast Guard building.
"In Philadelphia, forget it," Shnewer says. "There is nothing in it."
They finally agree to enroll in truck driving schools to prepare, and discuss ways to cover their activity.
"I will tell my father and my mother that I am going to the university," Shnewer says. "Why? Because truck driving school — they'll know there is something."
The men never enrolled in a trucking school, and never carried out an attack before they were arrested in May 2007.
Shnewer's lawyer says he was duped into planning one by Omar. Lawyers for the other suspects say they were not involved in all.