CAMDEN, N.J. – The six men accused of plotting to attack soldiers on Fort Dix were scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Thursday, getting their first chance to answer the charges against them and learn when a trial could be held.
The men, all in their 20s and from Philadelphia and its southern New Jersey suburbs, are expected to have not-guilty pleas entered for them by their lawyers.
A status conference is set to follow that, where a judge could set a trial date and deadlines for various legal motions.
If a trial date is set, lawyers expect it will be postponed because of the complexity of the case.
The men were arrested and charged last month with planning the attack. Authorities said they planned to use mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and guns in a raid on a New Jersey installation used mainly to train reservists. The assault never took place.
The suspects -- one from Turkey, one from Jordan, and four of whom are ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia -- have been held without bail in a federal detention center since they were arrested May 7.
Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, Serdar Tatar and the brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka are charged in the indictment with conspiring to kill military personnel, which is punishable by life in prison.
Dritan and Shain Duka also are charged with possession of machine guns. And all three Duka brothers are charged with possession of weapons by illegal immigrants.
A sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, is charged with providing weapons to illegal immigrants, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Investigators zeroed in on the men after an electronics store clerk told the FBI about footage of them firing assault weapons and screaming about jihad on a video they asked him to transfer to DVD.
The men allegedly practiced firing weapons in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and made a deal, through a paid FBI informant, to buy fully automatic weapons.
Authorities said the six scouted out East Coast military installations to find one to attack, but settled on Fort Dix largely because Tatar knew his way around from delivering pizzas to the base for his father's restaurant.