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Published: Thursday, 10/23/2008


CAMDEN, N.J. Computer hard drives hold some important evidence in the trial of five men accused of planning an attack on a New Jersey Army base.

Prosecutors contend they contain inspiration rather than plans for attacks at Fort Dix.

As the government s case against the men carried into its third day on Thursday, jurors saw jihadist videos and evidence of visits to terrorism-promoting Web sites found on computers seized from some of the men s homes.

It was the second straight day heavy on videos in the courtroom. Jurors were shown others on Wednesday, including some of U.S. troops being felled by snipers in Iraq.

Defense lawyers for Serdar Tatar, Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka say the men were not planning to attack, but that a paid government informant tried to make it look as if they were.

And they argue that watching unsightly videos or visiting Web sites does not prove their clients were planning anything.

Troy Archie and Michael Riley, lawyers for two of the men, pointed out that some of the videos were in Arabic only. Lawyers for four of the suspects say their clients have limited if any knowledge of the language.

The suspects all foreign-born Muslims in their 20s who lived for years in Cherry Hill are charged with conspiracy to kill military personnel and attempted murder. Four also face weapons charges.

Two of the videos included beheadings in Chechnya and Iraq. Authorities say they were found on a computer seized in May, 2007, from the home where suspects Shain and Eljvir Duka lived with their family.

The sections with beheadings were described to but not played for jurors.

In one video dated December 2005, two Iraqi men were shown admitting in Arabic to spying for Americans and advising other spies to quit.

Prosecutors stopped the video and had Ghassan Hajjar, an FBI linguist, describe what happened next: The men lay on their stomachs with their arms tied behind their backs. Captors then used their left hands to hold each man s head up and slit their throats with knives in their right hands.

Judge Robert Kugler told jurors they could not consider anything about those videos in the case against Mr. Tatar, because there is no evidence that he had seen them.

Jurors also saw an hourlong documentary on martyrs that said it was produced by al-Qaida.

Government computer forensic analysts also testified that the computer in suspect Dritan Duka s apartment had images from Web sites that contained articles with names like Terror in Canada, images of Osama bin Laden, and slogans like Knowledge is For Acting Upon.

Mr. Duka s lawyer, Michael Huff, argued that the images could have come from visits to just a few Web sites and would have been preserved by the computer no matter what the viewer thought of them.

The trial is scheduled to continue with its second week of testimony on Monday.

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