CAMDEN, N.J. – A man accused with four others of plotting to kill soldiers on Fort Dix told an FBI informant that the group wasn't going to kill anyone, according to a transcript of a conversation with the informant shown to jurors Monday.
"We are good the way we are," Dritan Duka said in the March 2007 conversation with informant Besnik Bakalli. "We are not going to kill anyone. Even if we kill anyone, you can't run away. They will catch you right away."
Duka's lawyer Michael Huff pointed out to the jury and Bakalli, who was on the witness stand for his fifth day of testimony, that the conversation came after one the same month that is a key to the government's case against the five defendants.
In the earlier conversation, which jurors heard last week, Duka told Bakalli, "Hit them here." The informant said that meant Duka was endorsing the idea of attacking soldiers in the United States rather than abroad.
The five men on trial — Mohamad Shnewer, Serdar Tatar and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka — were arrested in May 2007. They face charges including attempted murder and conspiracy to kill military personnel. The men face life in prison if convicted.
Federal prosecutors portray their alleged plot as one of the most frightening examples of homegrown terrorism.
Defense lawyers say the men were not seriously plotting anything. No attack was carried out before they were arrested in May 2007.
Bakalli, who agreed to help the FBI in 2006 rather than be deported to his home country of Albania, was testy Monday as he testified on cross-examination. He accused Huff of twisting his words as the defense lawyer tried to show the jury that Bakalli was goading the suspects into talking about attacking the U.S.
"You're picking up my words and telling your story the way you want it," he said.
Bakalli said the men talked constantly about war, jihad and guns — and that he said similar things only to fit in.