Closing arguments begin in Fort Dix plot trial

December 15, 2008 9:17:05 AM PST
A federal prosecutor says the case it made was clear: The men accused of plotting an attack on Fort Dix were intent on killing soldiers. Closing arguments began Monday in the case of five men charged with plotting to kill soldiers at New Jersey's Fort Dix Army base.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hammer told jurors not to be swayed by defense lawyers' arguments that the men were under the sway of pushy FBI informants or that they didn't seem sophisticated.

Instead, Hammer said, the jurors should consider the many recordings of the men's own words that were played during the trial's 26 days of testimony.

"Despite defense counsel's best efforts to redefine those words and recast them as harmless banter, those words do not change," Hammer said.

Hammer focused the early portion of his arguments on the actions of Mohamad Shnewer, who was caught on an informant's recording brainstorming ways to harm U.S. troops by trying to shoot down planes at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware or blowing up a tanker truck at a Coast Guard station in Philadelphia.

Hammer said such planning indicated he had the mind-set to carry out an attack.

Shnewer's lawyer will likely argue that Shnewer did not follow through on those plans and was not taken seriously by the other suspects.

Federal prosecutors say the five men, all foreign-born Muslims who lived for years in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, agreed to kill soldiers and trained to do so.

Defense lawyers say they were not seriously planning anything and were goaded into talking about an attack by two paid FBI informants. There was no attack before the men were arrested in May 2007.

The men face life in prison if they've convicted on the most serious accounts, including conspiracy to kill military personnel and attempted murder.

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