Sunday, October 21, 2012

Finding Plots Where No Plots Exist: The Fort Dix 5

After 9/11, U.S. government authorities recognized the public relations importance of being able to show the public that they had their hands on "terrorists" who had an intention to commit illegal acts -- before those acts actually occurred. As a result, they have employed agents provocateur to try to convince Muslim men to do or say things that can be characterized as part of a "plot" to engage in terrorism.

A quintessential example of this type of case is the Fort Dix 5. Today, two of the defendants in that case are in Marion or Terre Haute.

"Victims of America's Dirty Wars" explains this phenomenon further:
The government has made extensive use of agents provocateur to create contrived crimes with which to entrap innocent or unaware Muslims who have no interest in terrorism. Sometimes these agents provocateur have targeted certain individuals for preemptive prosecution because of information obtained by the government on a tip or through secret surveillance. On other occasions, these agents have simply hung around mosques, offering money and friendship to anyone who would join them in jihad. The cases below illustrate both kinds of tactics.

Agents provocateur are trained to manipulate people, find their weak spots, and offer large sums of money to manufacture crimes. They pursue their targets for years, sometimes posing as friends––sometimes even moving into their homes––in order to secretly tape-record enough information to manufacture cases of material support for terrorism. Hundreds of people, mostly Muslims, who had no interest or involvement in terrorism have been convicted of thought crimes or contrived charges manufactured by the FBI and given sentences of many decades or life in prison.8 Significantly, in none of these cases was anyone killed or injured, nor was any property damaged or money stolen. The FBI claims it anticipated and prevented these crimes before they happened, but it is unlikely that most of the crimes would have occurred, and in any event anticipation of criminal activity is not a valid basis to prosecute someone. Many defendants are now serving long prison terms essentially for exercising rights guaranteed to other Americans under the Constitution.
More more information on this type of case, see Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the “Homegrown Threat” in the U.S., a May 2011 report of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice of New York University School of Law, which focuses on three agent provocateur cases: the Newburgh 4, the Fort Dix 5, and the case of Matin Siraj.


As further explained in "Victims of America's Dirty Wars":
In January 2006, a store clerk in South Jersey, New Jersey gave the FBI a videotape of some young men riding horseback, having a pillow fight, shooting guns at a firing range, and shouting Islamic phrases. The men––brothers Eljvir, Dritan, and Shain Duka, along with Mohammed Shnewer and Serdar Tatar––had given the videotape of their family vacation together in the Pocono Mountains to the clerk to duplicate.

The FBI decided that the group looked suspicious and sent in two agents provocateur to try to entrap the young men in criminal activity. The agents showered attention on the young men and used money and manipulation to try to create an interest in jihad. They asked the young men to download jihadist videos, taunted them for their lack of resolve to take action, and followed them around with hidden tape recorders to record every word spoken. When the other youths were not present, one agent talked in general terms with one of the targets, Mohammed Shnewer, about how someone could theoretically attack the Fort Dix army base. In response to the agent’s repeated demands, another defendant, Serdar Tatar, gave the agent a map of the Fort Dix base, which his father used to deliver pizza there. (Tatar thought that the agent was suspicious and reported him to the local police, who told him not to worry about it.) The other agent then persuaded the Duka brothers to buy some guns, supposedly for target shooting in the Poconos.

At this point, the whole group was arrested and charged with conspiracy to attack Fort Dix, even though no plans had been made to attack anything and most of the defendants had never had any conversation about any plan to attack Fort Dix. The government claimed that the men had formed a conspiracy to commit jihad, and so under the law each member of the conspiracy was responsible for the acts of every other member, even if he knew nothing about the acts. The Dukas were responsible for Shnewer’s conversations with the agent about how to theoretically attack Fort Dix, although they knew nothing about it; Shnewer was responsible for the Dukas buying guns, even though he knew nothing about it. And both the Dukas and Shnewers were responsible for the map of Fort Dix that Tatar had obtained from his father. This illustrates a typical government strategy, which is to try and divide defendants by using them differently, in the hope they will attack each other at trial. Since no one person knows the whole “plot,” anything bad becomes “foreseeable” and is therefore attributable to all members. Thus the “plot” becomes a “conspiracy” and ramps up the charges against all of them. The five men were eventually convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years (i.e., their sentences will expire thirty years after they have died.)

The young men who became the Fort Dix 5 were foreign-born, but they had grown up American. Three of them ran a roofing business together. All of the defendants are vouched for by a community of supporters who know the character of the defendants, know that they are not terrorists, and know that they had no intention of hurting anyone. They are men with families, people who love America, people who support their communities. They had everything to lose and little, if anything, to gain by becoming involved in the FBI plot.
More information on the Fort Dix 5 can be found on the Project SALAM website: Fort Dix 5 - Five Innocent Men May be Sentenced to Life+ in Prison for the "Crime" of Being Muslim Men.


Currently, two of the Fort Dix 5 prisoners are held at either Marion and Terre Haute.


Mohammed Ibrahim Shnewer was sentenced to life in prison and is being held in the CMU at Marion.

Terre Haute

Eljvir Duka was sentenced to life in prison and is being held at the Terre Haute FCI.

(The three other defendants in the case are being held elsewhere: Florence, CO, Admax USP (Dritan Duka - life sentence, Shain Duka - life plus) and Tuscon USP (Serdar Tatar - 33 yrs).


Write to the two Fort Dix 5 prisoners being held at Marion and Terre Haute:

Mohammed Ibrahim Shnewer
U.S. Penitentiary
P.O. Box 1000
Marion IL, 62959

See SALAM Illinois Guidelines for Writing to Prisoners.

Eljvir Duka
P.O. BOX 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808

See SALAM Illinois Guidelines for Writing to Prisoners.

SALAM Illinois Outreach Coordinator: Joe Scarry

More information at:
Read letters written by members of the Duka family about their sons and the others in the Fort Dix 5 on the Project SALAM website.

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