5 immigrants face life behind bars for Army plot - San Jose Mercury News
CAMDEN, N.J.—Five Muslim immigrants face possible life prison terms after being convicted of plotting to massacre U.S. soldiers in a case that supporters called entrapment and prosecutors said was a pre-emptive strike against terrorism.
The five men were convicted Monday in federal court of conspiring to kill military personnel but acquitted of attempted murder. Prosecutors acknowledged the defendants were probably months away from an attack at Fort Dix and did not necessarily have a specific plan. ...
"Many people in the Muslim community will see this as a case of entrapment," said Jim Sues, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who attended five days of trial testimony. "From what I saw, there was a significant role played by the government informant."
The FBI asked two informants—both foreign-born men who entered the U.S. illegally and had criminal records—to befriend the suspects. Both informants were paid and were offered help obtaining legal resident status. ...
Sues said the case turned on the legal definition of conspiracy, which he said proved to be far broader than he thought.
"The evidence showed there was no real, honest-to-God planning for an attack on Fort Dix," he said. "The defendants were never all in a room at one time with a map of the fort, plotting what they were going to do."
James Yee, the former Muslim chaplain at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, said the case was flimsy.
"All of this doesn't help build trust with the American Muslim community, and that is vital if our law enforcement is going to fight terrorism," said Yee, who was once charged with mishandling classified material in a suspected espionage ring. The charges were later dropped.
"If anyone can improve security, it's our community, but we need to be seen as trusted partners, not potential suspects."