by John P. Martin/The Star-Ledger Thursday November 13, 2008, 11:59 AM
The FBI informant who infiltrated a band of alleged South Jersey terrorists complained in September 2006 that one suspect "was gonna have a problem with me" because he kept refusing to plan, train or arrange meetings to discuss an attack.
The comment by the informant, Mahmoud Omar, was recounted for jurors this morning in Camden, where five Muslim immigrants are being tried on charges of plotting to kill U.S. soldiers.
Defense attorneys contend that Omar, an Egyptian national and convicted felon, concocted and encouraged the conspiracy so he could keep collecting a paycheck.
In his fifth-day of cross-examination, attorney Rocco Cipparone continued to highlight for jurors dozens of conversations where Omar appeared to complain about the pace of the plotting, the lack of training or other concrete steps by the defendants.
During conversation with the suspect, Mohamad Shnewer, Omar again brought up Fort Dix as a possible target. The two men had driven around the perimeter of the base weeks earlier; Shnewer told the informant that that trip was insufficient.
"We didn't conduct a good reconnaissance on that site," Shnewer said. "We need to do surveillance of the area two or three more times."
But Shnewer never again proposed the surveillance and it never occurred, Omar testified.
Prosecutors say Shnewer, a laborer and cab driver from Cherry Hill, and his four codefendants were "jihadist" Muslim immigrants who drew inspiration from Al Qaeda and wanted to launch an attack within the United States. The other suspects include brothers Shain, Eljvir and Dritan Duka, roofers from Cherry Hill, or Serdar Tatar, a convenience store clerk in Philadelphia.