CAMDEN, N.J. – The government's star witness in the case against five men accused of plotting an attack on soldiers at the Army's Fort Dix said two of the men "had nothing to do" with the scheme.
Mahmoud Omar, a paid FBI informant who made hundreds of secret recordings of the men, told jurors Monday that one defendant — Mohamad Shnewer — said all five were on board with the alleged plot.
But two — brothers Dritan "Tony" Duka and Shain "Shaheen" Duka — knew nothing about it when Omar later asked them, he testified under cross-examination.
"I was surprised because what Mohamad had told me was different," Omar said during his seventh day on the stand.
The five men, all in their 20s at the time of the arrests, are foreign-born Muslims who lived for years in the comfortable Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, N.J.
They're charged with conspiracy to kill military personnel, attempted murder and weapons offenses in a case prosecutors have presented as one of the most frightening examples of homegrown terrorism. If convicted, the men could face life in prison.
Defense lawyers deny the men were seriously planning anything and said Omar tried to make it look like there was a plot. They note that Omar is being paid $1,500 a week to work for the government.
Omar said he told the FBI the two Duka brothers were not part of a plot to attack the military installation. The brothers were arrested in Omar's apartment in May 2007 while allegedly trying to buy an arsenal of automatic rifles.