A jury will hear opening arguments today in the trial of five men accused of plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, a case the government has presented as one of the most frightening examples of homegrown terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The five defendants - all foreign-born Muslim men in their 20s who have spent much of their lives in the southern New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia - were arrested in May 2007 and accused of plotting to sneak onto Fort Dix to attack soldiers. The Army base primarily trains reservists for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
No attack was carried out and lawyers for the men say there was no plot.
Mohamad Shnewer, Serdar Tatar and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka were arrested on May 7, 2007. They face charges of attempted murder, conspiracy and weapons offenses, and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on all counts.
Government prosecutors are expected to portray the men as hateful to America and sympathetic to terrorists.
Defense lawyers had been trying to get evidence that the men had anti-Semitic views barred from trial. They also tried to prevent government prosecutors from showing videos that the men allegedly watched that included scenes of Americans being beheaded in Iraq.
In a ruling last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler said prosecutors could present that evidence. But he said the videos must be stopped before any beheadings are shown.
Authorities said the fiveprepared for an attack by scouting out military bases, buying weapons and training in paintball games and a shooting range, but the case is complicated because no attack was carried out.
Terrorism law experts across the country will pay attention to the case, which they see as an example of a pre-emptive prosecution of the sort that has become more common since federal law enforcement refocused on terrorism after 9/11.