from the own-plots dept
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:
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.”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.
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.”
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.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.
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 story is a complete travesty and raises serious questions about what the FBI and Chris Christie were doing, other than padding their resumes.