[Ppnews] 4 life terms, 1 33-year sentence in Fort Dix case

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 29 16:36:39 EDT 2009

4 life terms, 1 33-year sentence in Fort Dix case

The following website has good general info on 
the case: http://www.projectsalam.org/fortdix5.html


By GEOFF MULVIHILL – 17 minutes ago

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) ­ A man who was the "epicenter 
of the conspiracy" to kill military personnel was 
sentenced to life in prison and a fellow plotter 
was sentenced to 33 years as a judge on Wednesday 
finished sentencing five Muslim immigrants who 
contemplated an attack on Fort Dix.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler had 
sentenced the three others involved in the plot to at least life in prison.

Overall, Kugler seemed to accept the position of 
prosecutors that the plot was one of the most 
frightening homegrown terrorism plots ever hatched in the U.S.

Under federal law, none of the four men given 
life sentences will be eligible for parole. With 
each of the four, Kugler cited their actions in 
the plot, their run-ins with the law ­ either 
before the investigation began or in the federal 
detention center in Philadelphia ­ and what he 
called their radical Islamist ideology.

On Wednesday, Mohamad Shnewer, a 24-year-old U.S. 
citizen born in Jordan, received a sentence of 
life plus 30 years. Kugler said the sentence 
reflected his position as "the epicenter of the 
conspiracy" by frequently suggesting ways to kill 
military personnel. The judge dismissed the young 
man's contention that he was talking about 
violence only because Mahmoud Omar, an FBI informant, pushed him into it.

"I might have spoken like a jihadist," said 
Shnewer, a former Cherry Hill resident who drove 
a cab and worked in his family's food market. 
"But I don't have what it takes to be a jihadist."

Like the families of the other men, relatives of 
Serdar Tatar spoke in court, describing the 
Turkish-born 25-year-old as a loving man who 
helped his stepson with homework. They said he 
was not interested in violence and cried about 
the shootings at Virginia Tech two years ago.

"I believe that everything that's going on is 
happening in some horrible dream," said his wife, 
Halide Mirayeva, as she spoke on the couple's third wedding anniversary.

Unlike the other men, who wore stoic expressions 
or even smiled during the sentencing proceedings, 
Tatar was sullen. He cried as his family spoke.

Tatar, a former restaurant worker and 7-Eleven 
clerk who lived in Philadelphia, spoke in court 
for about 40 minutes. Much of his talk was 
devoted to giving his side of a bizarre incident 
in the investigation ­ when he went to 
Philadelphia police, then the FBI, to report that 
someone had asked him for a map of Fort Dix.

At the time, his father owned a pizza shop near 
the central New Jersey Army installation, used 
primarily to train reservists for deployments in 
Iraq. Prosecutors say the men were focusing on 
the fort as a target because of Tatar's knowledge of the base.

In the trial, government prosecutors portrayed 
Tatar's approaching authorities as a savvy effort 
to smoke out Omar as an FBI informant.

Tatar said he was honestly trying to report possible criminal activity.

"I thought I was doing the right thing," he said. 
"And I ended up screwing it up for everyone." His 
mistake, he said, was lying and telling 
investigators that he had not handed over the map when in fact he had.

After hearing from Tatar, Kugler 
uncharacteristically called for a five-minute 
break, building drama before he announced his sentence.

Kugler said he hardly slept the previous night as 
he agonized over how to sentence Tatar. He settled on a 33-year term.

He said he didn't believe that Tatar was trying 
to do right by going to authorities, but "I am 
simply not convinced that he was driven by any ideology or religious fervor"

"He's the only one of the defendants I believe 
has any hope of rehabilitation with a prison sentence," Kugler said.

After the sentencing, Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph 
J. Marra Jr. said, "Mr. Tatar strikes me as 
somewhat of a follower-type person."

Lawyers for all five men say they expect to appeal the sentences.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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