Troy Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2, 2008
In 2006, Besnik Bakalli was jailed on an immigration charge and facing deportation when the FBI asked him to help with an investigation.
At the behest of the agents, Bakalli befriended Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, who, like him, spoke Albanian as their first language.
Bakalli said yesterday that the FBI agents did not tell him why they were interested in the Dukas.
But Bakalli said he started to piece it together during a fishing trip he took with the Dukas and their friend Mohamad Shnewer.
Eventually, Bakalli learned that the Dukas, Shnewer, and other foreign-born Muslim men were under investigation for plotting an attack on Fort Dix, inspired by radical Islamic dogma.
Bakalli, 31, from Albania, became one of two paid FBI informants to infiltrate the group. The other informant, Mahmoud Omar, befriended Shnewer, a fellow Arabic speaker.
Bakalli, also an illegal immigrant, said he agreed to help the FBI because “I was hoping I would stay here.” Prosecutors have acknowledged that Bakalli and his family will receive consideration in their immigration cases.
“I can have a better life here,” Bakalli said yesterday.
He said all that the Dukas ever talked about was “Islam, jihad, war, guns.” Prosecutors played several hours of those conversations for jurors yesterday.
On the tapes, the men repeatedly discussed what they perceived as the oppression of Muslims around the globe—in Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir, the Palestinian territories and other locations. They talked about their own duties as Muslims to wage jihad and help their “brothers.”
Prosecutors said the five defendants were planning to use a pizza-delivery pass to get on the base and open fire. Dritan and Shain Duka were arrested while trying to buy seven rifles from Omar, the informant.
The Dukas, Shnewer and Serdar Tatar have been jailed since their coordinated arrests in May 2007. They face life in prison if convicted of plotting to kill U.S. soldiers.