CAMDEN, N.J. – They watched jihadist videos, listed to incendiary Islamist speeches, and were secretly recorded by FBI informants talking about bringing a holy war to America.
They bought guns and practiced shooting, and got a map of Fort Dix.
Were five men who spent years in the comfortable Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill really planning a homegrown terrorist attack on U.S. soil? Or were the foreign-born Muslims just jihad sympathizers who talked tough but had no real intention of killing anyone?
Those are the questions the jury of eight women and four men must decide in the case against five New Jersey men accused of planning to kill soldiers at the Army's Fort Dix.
After 26 days of testimony, jurors will hear the final arguments in the case. Deliberations, during which jurors will be sequestered, are set to start Tuesday.
While the government claims that the men considered Fort Dix as a target, proving that is not necessary to convicting them.
Prosecutors must only persuade jurors that the men had an agreement to kill soldiers; they don't necessarily have to prove that they had a specific plan, timeline or a target — of Fort Dix or any another place — to win a conviction.
Though no attack was carried out, the suspects are charged with conspiracy to kill military personnel and attempted murder; four of them face weapons offenses. They all face life in prison if convicted on the most serious charges.
Jordan-born Mohamad Shnewer was a cab driver; Turkey-born Serdar Tatar was a convenience store clerk; and ethnic Albanian brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka hail from the former Yugoslavia and had a roofing business.
A sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, was charged only with gun offenses and later pleaded guilty.
The men were in their 20s when they were arrested in May 2007, more than a year after the FBI's investigation case began.
It started with a tip from a Circuit City store clerk in southern New Jersey who called authorities about some customers who wanted a video transferred to DVD. The clerk was suspicious because the video showed the men shooting guns and yelling "Allah akbar," Arabic for "God is great."
Soon, two paid FBI informants infiltrated the group and began secretly recording hours of conversations with the men.
The government relied heavily on the informants — both of whom entered the country illegally and have criminal convictions — to build their case again the group.
They also presented dozens of jihadist videos and speeches that they watched and listened to, and played hours of recordings made by the informants.
Defense attorneys chiefly made their case by tearing apart the government's. Of the 26 days of testimony, defense attorneys used 11 on cross-examination.
Lawyers for the men acknowledged that the group was interested in guns and at times spoke ill of America, but say that they were not seriously planning anything.
They argued that it was the informants who tried to push their clients toward a plot.
Defense attorneys called only two witnesses — a computer forensics consultant, and a computer scientist who testified that it can't be determined from computer records whether one of the suspects zoomed in on an Internet map of the Army post in September 2006.
None of the five suspects took the stand.