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May 8, 2007

UPDATE: 6 men charged with plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey

FORT DIX, N.J. — Six men described by federal prosecutors as “Islamic militants” were arrested on charges they plotted to attack the Fort Dix Army base and “kill as many soldiers as possible,” authorities said today.

The six were scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Camden later today to face charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. servicemen, said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.

Officials said four of the men were born in the former Yugoslavia, one in Jordan and one in Turkey. Five of them lived in Cherry Hill, 10 miles east of Philadelphia and 20 miles southwest of Fort Dix, Drewniak said.

“They were planning an attack on Fort Dix in which they would kill as many soldiers as possible,” Drewniak said.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because documents in the case remain sealed, said the attack was stopped in the planning stages.

Authorities believe the men trained in the Poconos for the attack and also conducted surveillance at other area military institutions, including Fort Monmouth, the official said. The official said that the men had lived in the United States for some time.

The six were arrested trying to buy automatic weapons in a sale set-up by law enforcement authorities, the official said.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said there is “no direct evidence” that the men arrested in the Fort Dix plot have ties to international terrorism.

“They are not charged with being members of an international terrorism organization,” Snow said. “At least at this point, there is no evidence that they received direction from international terror organizations. However, their involvement in weapons training, operational surveillance and discussions about killing American military personnel warranted a strong law enforcement response.”

Asked if those arrested had any ties to al-Qaida, Snow referred questions to the FBI and the U.S. attorney, but said those officials “seem to indicate that there is no direct evidence of a foreign terrorist tie.”

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