January 4, 2008 / 12:03 AM / 10 years ago

Men accused of U.S. army base attack plot denied bail

CAMDEN, New Jersey (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge on Thursday denied bail to five Muslim men accused of plotting an armed attack on New Jersey’s Fort Dix army base.

Judge Robert Kugler rejected claims by lawyers for the men that they had been denied proper access to information that may be used against them at trial. The lawyers argued the men needed to be released on bail in order to get proper access.

The five men pleaded not guilty in June to charges of plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at the Fort Dix military base, located about 40 miles east of Philadelphia, and to possessing illegal weapons.

They are Yugoslav-born ethnic Albanian brothers Eljvir, Dritan and Shain Duka, all illegal immigrants who ran a roofing busineses in Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Mohamad Shnewer, a Jordanian-born taxi driver from Philadelphia; and Serdar Tatar, a Turkish-born convenience store clerk.

Prosecutors’ argued that at least one defendant had been promoting jihad, or Muslim holy war, against the West, among other inmates at a Philadelphia detention center where they are being held, but Kugler said he was not convinced.

The judge, who previously denied bail to the men shortly after their May 2007 arrest, rejected a request by prosecutors to make public a video that they say was used by Shnewer in the detention center to attract recruits to jihad.

Kugler said the “inflammatory” video includes “exhortations” by a figure that looks like Osama bin Laden, and images of dead and maimed people who “could be Muslims.”

Public access to the disc would risk prejudicing a jury whose likely members have already been exposed to extensive media coverage of the charges against the men, he said.

The trial, already postponed twice, is currently scheduled to begin on March 24.

Reporting by Jon Hurdle; editing by Michelle Nichols and Jackie Frank

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