The Informant in the Fort Dix Case
The convictions of five Muslim men on charges they plotted to kill soldiers at Fort Dix is a victory of sorts for the government and their use of an informant who infiltrated the terrorist ring.
The five men, all from Philadelphia and neighboring New Jersey suburbs, apparently were inspired by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden but had no foreign ties to the terrorist group. Defense attorneys said the men simply talked about a plan to kill soldiers and never intended to carry out the attack.
The five were acquitted on less serious charges of attempted murder today in federal court in New Jersey but still face up to life in prison.
The linchpin for the government's case during the eight-week trial was the testimony of Egyptian-born Mahmoud Omar, a cooperating informant who worked with FBI agents over 16 months, recording hundreds of hours of conversations with the suspects.
Defense attorneys for the five Muslim men portrayed Omar as a con man who received $238,000 for his work with the FBI, as well as a convicted felon charged in 2001 in connection with an elaborate counterfeit-check scheme.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick has said Omar and a second informant used by the FBI are "flawed" but reliable and said they were brought into the case for "their knowledge of the religion, culture and language of the suspects," Danielle Camilli of the Burlington County Times reported.
Defense attorneys claim the federal government overlooked many of Omar's shady dealings, including drug-dealing, chopping up cars for export to Egypt and the selling of his Social Security card for $3,000 during the course of the investigation, The Philadelphia Daily News reports.
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