Kosovo Albanian Pleads Guilty in Jihad Terror Plot against Ft Dix

Published on November 6, 2007, International Herald Tribune

Category: Islamic Terror in Kosovo

The Associated Press

CAMDEN, New Jersey: A man has pleaded guilty to to conspiring to provide weapons to a group of men accused of plotting an attack at the Fort Dix U.S. Army base in New Jersey.

Agron Abdullahu, an ethnic Albanian born in the Serbian province of Kosovo, faces up to five years in federal prison when he is sentenced Feb. 6. Since his arrest, he has been held in isolation at a federal detention center in Philadelphia.

Federal prosecutors have portrayed Abdullahu, a 25-year-old bakery worker, as having the smallest role among the six men arrested earlier this year in the Fort Dix case. Abdullahu was charged only with weapons offenses. The others three ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia, a Jordanian and a Turk are charged with conspiring to kill military personnel a crime punishable by life in prison.

He is the first of the men to be convicted in the alleged planned attack on the military installation.

Abdullahu was indicted on charges of providing weapons to illegal immigrants and has admitted letting illegal immigrants use weapons he owned legally, including a Beretta 9 mm pistol and a Yugoslav semiautomatic rifle that. The plot to kill troops at the U.S. Army base was not mentioned during the hearing.

His public defender, Richard Coughlin, said after the hearing Wednesday that Abdullahu would not testify if the case against the others goes to trial because he has no information about any terror plot.

Coughlin said that if a plot is found to have existed, his client had no role in it.

"My client was essentially used by these other individuals," Coughlin said. "It was never a 'Fort Dix Six.' It was a 'Fort Dix Five' plus one other person. That was my client."

"He regrets that he is associated with any plot, which has not been proved," he said.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on Abdullahu's plea Wednesday. A trial for the remaining five is planned for January.

Authorities said that while Abdullahu provided weapons to the other men and joined them for target practice in Pennsylvania, he resisted the idea of participating in an attack. The government said he told the others at one point that it would be against Islam to kill civilians and that it would be "crazy" to attack the military installation.

The suspects, all in their 20s, have spent many years living in Philadelphia and New Jersey suburbs. The other five brothers Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka; Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer; and Tatar face life in prison if convicted of conspiracy to murder military personnel. They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go on trial in January.

Coughlin said Abdullahu will likely receive a sentence between two and three years. After that, he could face deportation, but it is unclear where he would go. His family of ethnic Albanians was granted asylum in the United States in 1999 after fleeing Kosovo.

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