It all began with dropping off a video at a branch of Circuit City. A group of Muslim friends living in and around the suburban New Jersey town of Cherry Hill had just come back from a trip to the nearby Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania.
They had gone skiing, played paintball, ridden horses and fired guns at a public shooting range, all of which they had filmed. The group included the four Duka brothers, Dritan, Shain, Eljvir and Burim, children of Albanian illegal immigrants, but who had grown up in America. The Duka men, devout Muslims with bushy beards, wanted to make copies of the film on DVDs to give others on the trip.
Unknown to them, the young Circuit City clerk they dealt with in January 2006 was disturbed by the part of their holiday video showing the Dukas firing weapons, especially when he heard cries of “Allahu Akbar” and “Jihad”. He went to the police.
That single action triggered a massive FBI surveillance operation that lasted more than a year and saw two FBI informants sent to befriend the men on the tape. It ended with dramatic arrests and claims of a terrorist plot to attack the nearby Fort Dix army base.
Five men – including Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka – ended up with hefty jail sentences and are now known as the Fort Dix Five. Sitting in the Cherry Hill home he shares with his parents, Burim Duka thinks of the Poconos, the trip to Circuit City and where it all led. Read the rest of this entry »