The Pizza Connection; Easy Access to Fort Dix

By Brian Ross And Richard Esposito

May 8, 2007 2:30pm

The six men charged with planning an attack to kill several hundred U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., thought they would have easy access to the base by pretending to deliver pizzas. In a criminal complaint filed this morning, an FBI agent writes that "SERDAR TATAR’s father owned a restaurant near Fort Dix and made deliveries onto the base." The father, owner of Super Mario’s Restaurant, told ABCNews.com today that his staff often made pizza deliveries on to the base and to the nearby McGuire Air Force Base. The complaint says Tatar was able to acquire a map of Fort Dix, labeled "Cantonment Area Fort Dix, N.J.," and gave it to the five other men arrested by the FBI. Officials say the map was used by pizza delivery men to find their way around the base. According to the complaint, Tatar "described a place at Fort Dix they could target that would cause a power outage and allow for an easier attack on the military personnel there." "What we are witnessing here is kind of a brand new form of terrorism," said J.P. "Jody" Weis, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia field office, at an afternoon press conference.  "They operate under the radar…they strike when they feel it is right whenever that might be." Video Officials Call Fort Dix Terror Plot ‘a Brand New Form of Terrorism’ Tatar’s father told ABCNews.com he talked to his son only yesterday, and there was no indication of anything unusual, no indication that his 24-year-old son harbored a deep hatred of the United States. "There’s something wrong here," the father said. "I came here from Turkey in 1992, and this is my country. I love this country." He said his son had not worked at the restaurant for at least a year, and he believed his son was working at a 7-11 convenience store in Philadelphia. The criminal complaint tells a much different story, describing Tatar as suspicious of the FBI’s undercover operative who infiltrated the group. Last November, Tatar allegedly contacted a sergeant in the Philadelphia police department to check the name of the undercover informant. The complaint quotes Tatar as telling the undercover operative, "Whether you are or not (FBI), I’m gonna do it. Know why? It doesn’t matter to me, whether I get locked up, arrested or get taken away, it doesn’t matter. Or I die, doesn’t matter, I’m doing it in the name of Allah." "Allah Akbar," meaning "God is great," was a phrase the men arrested knew well.  According to the federal complaint, an investigation was launched 17 months ago after a photo shop clerk alerted authorities to a video brought in by one of the suspects with "disturbing" content on it. The video "depicted 10 young men who appeared to be in their 20s shooting assault-style weapons at a firing range in militia-like style while calling for jihad and shouting in Arabic, ‘Allah akbar,’" the federal complaint says. The investigation, through electronic eavesdropping and the confidential informant who had infiltrated the group, soon determined the men were serious in their intent to attack a military base using automatic weapons. The plot never reached an operational phase, but the alleged cell members had finished their surveillance and selected Fort Dix as their target. Tatar, along with Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, 22, Eljvir Duka, 23, Dritan Duka, 28, and Shain Duka, 26, is charged with "plotting to kill as many soldiers as possible" in an armed assault on Fort Dix.  The sixth man, Argon Abdullahu, 24, was arrested on related charges of aiding and abetting the possession of illegal firearms. Shnewer, regarded as the group’s ringleader, said he wanted to kill at least 100 soldiers. "My intent is to hit a heavy concentration of soldiers…This is exactly what we are looking for. You hit four, five or six Humvees and light the whole place [up] and retreat completely without any losses," he was recorded as saying. Shnewer, who was born in Jordan, is employed as a Philadelphia cab driver. Eljvir, Dritan and Shain Duka are brothers, all of whom were born in the former Yugoslavia and are illegally residing in the U.S. They run a roofing business together. Abdullahu was also born in the former Yugoslavia and is employed at a Shop-Rite Supermarket. As for Super Mario’s Restaurant, its chef, Joseph Hofflinger, 35, quit today after finding out the news that the restaurant’s owner was the father of one of the suspected terrorists. Video See the Chef and Hear in His Own Words Why He Quit When asked by reporters as to why he quit, Hofflinger said, "Because I won’t work for somebody that has any ties or admission to terrorists." He continued, "My son is in the 82nd Airborne.  I won’t work for a place that supports terrorism so I’m out." This post has been updated.

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