Five Convicted in Fort Dix Plot

According to a recent survey, fewer Americans believe terrorism is a threat now than at any time since September 10, 2001. But if five Muslim men in New Jersey had had their way, this threat might loom larger in the public mind today. These men face life in prison after being convicted Monday of plotting to enter the U.S. Army base in Fort Dix, New Jersey and murder as many soldiers as they could.

This was a jihad plot. Three of the men convicted — brothers Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka — are illegal aliens from the former Yugoslavia. One of the plotters, Serdar Tatar, told an FBI informant late in 2006: “I’m gonna do it….It doesn’t matter to me, whether I get locked up, arrested, or get taken away, it doesn’t matter. Or I die, doesn’t matter, I’m doing it in the name of Allah.” Another plotter, Mohamad Shnewer (the only American citizen among the convicted men), was caught on tape saying, “They are the ones, we are going to put bullets in their heads, Allah willing.”

The men trained “for jihad,” according to informant Besnik Bakalli, while on a trip to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, where they bought guns and practiced with them at firing ranges.

The plot was uncovered in January 2006 when two of the plotters entered a Circuit City outlet in New Jersey and asked a clerk to convert a videotape to DVD. The video showed men shooting automatic weapons and crying out, “Allahu akbar.”

The clerk, Brian Morgenstern, was alarmed, and asked a coworker: “Dude, I just saw some really weird s—. I don’t know what to do. Should I call someone, or is that being racist?” His coworker urged him to contact police, and Morgenstern ultimately did.

Morgenstern’s hesitation is yet another indication of how successful American Muslim advocacy groups have been in portraying resistance to the global jihad as “racism” and honest discussion of the elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify acts of violence and other acts in service of Islamic supremacism as “bigotry.” We can be grateful that Brian Morgenstern came forward anyway — but it isn’t hard to imagine what could happen if the next young person in his position decides that it is better to keep silent than to do anything that might appear to be “racist.”

The convictions Monday ought to trigger an urgent and searching reevaluation of the politically correct shibboleths that could have kept Brian Morgenstern from blowing the whistle on the Fort Dix jihadists. But that reevaluation is unlikely — especially since American Muslim spokesmen, instead of applauding the verdict and announcing measures to teach against the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism in mosques and Islamic schools in America, resorted to denial and finger-pointing.

The aptly-named Jim Sues of the New Jersey chapter of the frequently-litigious Council on American-Islamic Relations accused the government of wrongdoing: “Many people in the Muslim community will see this as a case of entrapment. From what I saw, there was a significant role played by the government informant.”

A former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo, James Yee lamented that the convictions would not help relations between law enforcement officials and the Muslim community in America: “All of this,” he complained, “doesn’t help build trust with the American Muslim community, and that is vital if our law enforcement is going to fight terrorism. If anyone can improve security, it’s our community, but we need to be seen as trusted partners, not potential suspects.” Yee himself was once investigated for mishandling classified material at Gitmo. Back in March 2004, AP reported that “in dismissing the charges, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which operates the detention center, cited ‘national security concerns that would arise from the release of the evidence’ if the case proceeded.” Not exactly a resounding acquittal.

Yee’s concerns about Muslims not being seen as “potential suspects” could best be allayed by Muslims resolving not to do anything suspicious. But not only did the Fort Dix suspects make their intentions to commit jihad violence on a grand scale abundantly clear to government informants; even after their arrests, one of them apparently had no compunction about revealing his intentions. Authorities revealed in December 2007 that one of the imprisoned defendants expressed regret over the Fort Dix plot — that “we weren’t able to finish” — and even gave another prisoner an Al-Qaeda recruiting video.

How many more Muslims in the United States today hold to the same views as those of the Fort Dix jihadists? Now is the time for law enforcement and government officials to call upon the Muslim community to institute comprehensive and verifiable programs teaching against the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism. But they won’t: it would be the height of political incorrectness to do so.

And as the Fort Dix plotters wait to see if they will get life sentences, one thing is certain: there will be more plots like this one.