How Chris Christie Used A Manufactured Terrorist Plot To Boost His Political Career

from the own-plots dept

For a few years now, we’ve been covering the proliferation of the FBI’s own plots, in which they basically set up a fake terrorist plot, and use their own undercover agents or (preferably) informants (generally former criminals who get paid and/or favors such as reduced sentences) to go out seeking young and gullible individuals to convince to “join” the plot (a plot that has no connection to reality). Then they stage a big arrest and an even bigger press conference about how they “stopped” a terrorist threat. We’ve written about examples of this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Apparently, a huge chunk of the FBI’s resources goes toward manufacturing these kinds of fake plots, which help generate scary headlines, but rarely seem to do much other than putting young, gullible folks in jail.

The Intercept has now published a story of one of these cases that is so extreme and so ridiculous that it should make you angry. It is the story of the “Fort Dix Five” — a case that Chris Christie led the prosecution of while he was a US Attorney before becoming governor. This case was part of his fame and his “tough on terror” bona fides. Now, as Christie prepares his presidential campaign announcement, the case against the Fort Dix Five is a big part of his biography:

In a 2012 speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Christie recalled his success in the ?uncovering of a plot to kill American servicemen and women,? telling a packed audience at the New York Hilton Hotel that he helped send to prison a group of ?Muslim men practicing with semi-automatic weapons and screaming about jihad against the infidels.? Today, both the Republican Governors Association and the New Jersey Republican Party list the Fort Dix case as ?one of Christie?s finest moments? under his biography.

Except, as the Intercept writeup details, despite putting three brothers away for life, there was no evidence against them. There was one friend of theirs, who liked to make up stories and brag a lot, who talked about an idea to shoot people at Fort Dix, but no indication at all that the other participants (mainly the three Duka brothers) knew about this plot at all. And then the fifth member of the “Fort Dix Five”, upon hearing about the “plot”, immediately went to the police to tell them about it. The Intercept has also published a short film about the Duka brothers (narrated by their younger brother) that is worth watching:

The video shows clips of the footage the FBI got on the brothers, none of which ever has them discussing a plot against Fort Dix — and actually tends to just show them messing around or even pushing back while the two FBI informants pushed them to get more involved in plots, which the brothers mostly ignored. Even the story of how the brothers came to the attention of the FBI is somewhat ridiculous. After a ski vacation in the Poconos, in which the brothers also did some horseback riding and went to a shooting range, they tried to make a DVD of some of the video they shot to give to everyone who went on the trip as a memento. In the video, while at the shooting range, some of the brothers say “allahu akbar” leading the guy making the DVDs at Circuit City to alert the feds.

Despite the two FBI informants pushing to try to get the brothers engaged in a plot for a year — mainly by pressuring the one show off guy who kept saying he had talked to them about it — there is no evidence of any actual plot whatsoever. One of the informants and the one show off guy both admit that the brothers had no role in the plot. Eventually, the FBI set up a fake gun buy — as the brothers were fans of guns, but as non-US citizens couldn’t buy guns legally. It’s pretty clear in going through with the plan to buy some guns, they broke the law, but it had nothing to do with a terrorist plot at all, and so the charges left them baffled. But in the end it didn’t matter:

Delivering Shain?s sentence, the culmination of a terrorism case that had lasted over two years, Judge Kugler said, ?It?s not my place or desire at this time to review all the evidence ? Suffice to say this defendant was in the middle of this plot. I?m realistic, I remember that they weren?t being taped 24 hours a day seven days a week.?

Brushing off the lack of direct evidence, Kugler added: ?That there isn?t more explicit evidence does not concern me and obviously didn?t concern the jury either ? I cannot deter this defendant, because of his belief system, from further crimes.?

Equally as disturbing is the way they included the fifth member of the “Fort Dix Five,” Serdar Tatar, a friend of the Dukas who the braggart guy, Mohamad Shnewer, dragged into the “plot” to prove to the FBI informant that he could pull together people to pull off an attack. Except Tatar — who wanted to become a police officer — went to the police instead. And still got included in the charges.

Omar apparently felt more comfortable approaching Tatar than the Duka brothers and began courting the 23-year-old. He told him of the plot to attack Fort Dix and openly asked for his help: he needed the pizza delivery map.

Tatar, who had since left his father?s pizza shop and moved to Philadelphia, was working at a 7-Eleven when Sgt. Dean Dandridge of the Philadelphia Police Department came by for his daily coffee. On November 15, 2006, Tatar told Dandridge that he believed Omar might be planning a terrorist attack. Neither Tatar, nor Dandridge, had any way of knowing that Omar was an informant.

Dandridge left Tatar?s information with the FBI, expecting the bureau?s agents would be in touch soon. For three weeks, Tatar waited for the FBI to contact him. In the meantime, he recorded at least one conversation with Omar, so that when the authorities did reach out, he would have information to give them.

The full story and the video are infuriating. Yes, the FBI should be looking out for people looking to perform acts of terrorism and such, but in case after case after case we don’t see them doing that. We see them setting up elaborate theater productions. In many of those cases, after lots of pressure, at the very least, the gullible and troubled individuals make some sort of statement to agree to participate in the “plot.” This case — as high profile as it is — is even more exceptional in that 4 of the 5 participants never agreed to take part in any plot at all, with three of them not even knowing there was a plot.

The story is a complete travesty and raises serious questions about what the FBI and Chris Christie were doing, other than padding their resumes.

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Comments on “How Chris Christie Used A Manufactured Terrorist Plot To Boost His Political Career”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Maybe you have not met your fellow humans.

One Proof that you are wrong…

The entire 2-Party system. Sure at some level you are right, but not at any level that is meaningful. Take the Black Minority for example. They have consistently voted for people that spend more time working against their interests than for them. But because they have been ermm… “told” that they must vote D, well they do it. Of course there was Bush for the R’s… the Military loved that guy, despite the fact that Bush as spit and pissed on what the fallen have died for more than any recent president in history with the institution of DHS and the Patriot Act, and now the NSA revelations. And I sure as hell don’t see Obama trying to protect anyone’s freedoms.

So yea, we know other nations are dirt bags too, but we are busy bagging on the US right now with the rest getting a pass. Humanity is trash because of this, tell me and world history that we are “somehow” wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Uh, no… actually EVERYONE is getting a pass. i was being as much sarcastic about that comment as I was being serious. Sorry if a statement that is capable of being both literal and metaphorical at the same time was too much for you.

See any nations or movements actually trying to establish freedoms?

Yep nope, just not happening. The birth of the US is truly a unique event, and is not likely to happen again. Humans love controlling or fighting other humans or did you not notice history?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I am dying to know. What about my comment was racist?

I mentioned the work Black right? Or could it be you think I am white… or you ASSUME that I am white… totally not possible for me to Black right?

You are the racist, because you are assuming my race based on a couple of comments. Maybe if you just looked up several of the other Black Leaders that have pretty much said that same thing… maybe then you could believe me.

But yea… you just want to play the race card so bad that you whipped just for the hell of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You said “they” instead of “we.” You spoke of the “Black Minority” in the third person and not in a manner that implied that you were a member of that group. Statistically, it’s probably a decent bet that you’re white. You said “our men and women” in relation to the US, so that implies you’re an American. Americans are more likely to be white since white people are the majority in America by 63%. If you factor in the fact that white Americans are also statistically more likely to be able to afford devices and internet access (though this is getting a lot cheaper with smart phones these days) and able to afford the leisure time for visiting websites such as Techdirt that cover topics such as technology, education, and legal matters that are likely more relevant to the at least somewhat educated populace, of which white Americans are statistically a majority, I’d put money on the proposition that you’re white.

You also used the term “race card” which seems to be a favorite phrase of conservative white people. You talk about the military with reverence and US’s past with a reactionary bent, so you sound old, though sometimes this attitude is learned by younger people. Ultimately, you write like an older conservative white male with enough leisure time to troll the internet calling other nations dirt bags. While absolute certainty isn’t possible, it is possible to reasonably assume that you aren’t black. Whether your statements are racist or not, I won’t comment on, but your argument that it’s racist to assume you’re probably white doesn’t hold up statistically or contextually.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So yea, we know other nations are dirt bags too, but we are busy bagging on the US right now with the rest getting a pass.

Just because the US is the most prominent ‘target’ and self-professed ‘bastion of freedom and justice’. But really, no. There’s plenty of discussion on many, many, many other countries. You have a very narrow view of the world if you are drawing those conclusions based on Techdirt alone. It’s an American site so it’s only natural that it tends to focus on the western countries and the major players. TD is not obliged to talk about Zimbabwe or New Guinea or something (though sometimes you see some of these less known places over here). I read TD and I am interested in things in the US as what the country does still has a lot of influence in the west and in my country. And we know that bad ideas tend to be more contagious than good ones.

As for Russia, I’d say I couldn’t care less because they have little influence here but it would be like not caring for Africa because I’m well and dandy here. I do care but I spend less time on Russia because of what I exposed above. And because time is limited so one has to focus on something or risk not producing anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I guess you missed the point.

There are just as many ignorant idiots in America as there are in any other random nation. The USA used to be fairly decent, but still not without some serious flaws, however we are quickly becoming the very thing our men and women stood against and died for.

My point to you was that as stupid as the poster may have sounded on something there are some obvious merits. Not to imply that he was correct but to say that you correction of the individual was not completely correct either.

The saddest thing we humans like to do is complete call an idea bad because of its associated source. If a broken clock can be right 2 times a day, then Hitler had some good policies, a liar holds truth, and a fool has wisdom. The primary problem is these source do not hold an abundance of what the good stuff is, likewise your response did not either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think you make a good point. Governments tend to use fear mongering as a means to further their agenda. They proclaim everyone a terrorist when they, themselves, are often the terrorists. They claim to protect us from the very thing they oppress us with. The end result is the oppressive government you yourself are opposing here.

Your comment shouldn’t have been flagged. It’s a good point. It’s a good example of what other governments could become if we keep allowing them to use terrorism as a pretext to further their agenda. This is exactly the sort of thing that we are attempting to resist. We resist these things because history has shown that if we allow government too much leniency they become the bad guys. This is even true today as your example also demonstrates. The point of the story is that government, like ‘terrorism’, is something that could eventually have very bad consequences is left unchecked. and you are simply enforcing that thought. Thanks.

Ninja (profile) says:

So now you can be locked for life even if you flat out refuse to join some terrorist plot. This would make me pants shitting scared of law enforcement and the Government.

The story is a complete travesty and raises serious questions about what the FBI and Chris Christie were doing, other than padding their resumes.

Religious/racial persecution? Abuse of power? Entrapment? Feel free to add more.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you praise a non-white God, you don’t deserve the Second Amendment.

Our pure-bred Aryan Jesus died for our sins, not theirs. So we get to shoot them up, not the other way round. After all, it’s their oil we put in our cars, and those kill still more people than our guns.

Wanting both guns and oil: that’s just being greedy.

Hans says:

Re: Re:

“So now you can be locked for life even if you flat out refuse to join some terrorist plot.”

I think it’s a little more subtle/clever/evil than that.

When the FBI couldn’t get the Duka’s to join the “plot”, they figured out if they could get the brothers to buy guns illegally, it would make a perfect circumstantial case. They knew the Duaka brothers liked shooting guns, so they set up the “buy”.

And the judge went for it. Quoting from his opinion: “Suffice to say this defendant was in the middle of this plot.” No actual plot to kill anyone, but buying guns illegally. Just as good as “tax evasion”.

Hans says:

Re: Re: Re:

I forgot to add:

Prosecutors seem to love these circumstantial cases, because judges and juries fall for them, and there’s no way to “prove the negative” that the accused really didn’t (or in this case wouldn’t) do the crime. Despite the direct evidence that the brothers weren’t interested in “doing something” even when badgered by the FBI informant, they were Muslim and they bought guns, so they must be planning something. The judge even said “I’m realistic, I remember that they weren’t being taped 24 hours a day seven days a week.” There’s the “proof”, they could have agreed to the plot when they weren’t being taped! Powerful logic, that.

CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling was sent to prison based for leaking classified information based entirely on circumstantial evidence. The judge described it as “very powerful circumstantial evidence.” and added, “In a perfect world, you’d only have direct evidence, but many times that’s not the case in a criminal case.” All they had on him was “meta-data”, email and phone records, no actual content. So it was clear he he “could have” leaked the information.

The point being, the prosecutor can spin any story he/she wants, and it’s difficult to prove otherwise. People, judges included, like conspiracies.

RD says:

So much for that

“In the video, while at the shooting range, some of the brothers say “allahu akbar” leading the guy making the DVDs at Circuit City to alert the feds. “

“That there isn’t more explicit evidence does not concern me and obviously didn’t concern the jury either … I cannot deter this defendant, because of his belief system, from further crimes.”

So much for the first amendment in this country. If we tried and convicted every person that held or expressed a belief system, everyone would be incarcerated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So much for that

No, the FBI think it’s wrong to believe in the ‘wrong’ religions.

People who believe in the ‘right’ religions, even those who perform terrorist attacks (like the guy who murdered an abortion doctor in the church years ago, or the guy who murdered 9 African Americans in a different church a few weeks ago) are simply ‘murderers’, or ‘crazy’, and not terrorists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think I figured out where Tatar went wrong: paid informants always seem to come out of these things fine. If, instead of volunteering his information, he’d gone to the FBI and said “I know about a person planning a terrorist attack; gimme some money and I’ll tell you about it” he’d have been fine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So The Second Amendment Only Applies To US Citizens?

Anybody not on American soil or not an US citizen is fair game as far as the US government is concerned, and I am not so the constitution and bill of rights still protect the US citizen on home soil. Those documents limit what the government can do, and so they are doing everything that they can to eliminate those restrictions.

GEMont (profile) says:

Manufacturing His Story

Funny how these stories become history, considering how they are all lacking any actual supporting evidence.

One might suspect that there was a plot afoot to manufacture false news, in order to build a “working” history which could then be used as proof to further some specific goals such as martial law, or a police state.

But of course, that’s just Conspiracy nutter talk, because everyone knows that politicians, businessmen, billionaires and heads of USG agencies are all morons and could never successfully carry out any kind of conspiracy plot, as long as the highly trained and ever-watchful American Joe Sixpack was on the job. 🙂

ConflictOrientedDave (profile) says:


Im a friend of the Duka family, and now also a friend of the Shnewer family.
I can verify what was written in the Intercept, and reported on here, and also on Democracy Now. I knew the Dukas since before this case.
I can verify that these men are innocent.
Oh, and I also established an “association with the informant Mahmoud Omar, but I have never met the other informant Besnik.

One of the very first things Mahmoud the informant told me was, the Dukas were totally unaware of a plot. I already knew that. He told me he told his FBI handler Jack Ryan that in August 2006. It wasn’t till after that, that Jack Ryan told him to entice the Dukas into a gun purchase.
The Dukas were not looking to purchase weapons, so this took some doing.

Anyway, if you have some real questions about this case, feel free to respond.
I am not on line much, so when I am on line, I will answer whatever I can about it.
The Duka brothers are innocent, and the entire plot was a fabrication.


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