The five men convicted Monday of plotting a jihad-inspired attack on Fort Dix are the archetype of homegrown terrorists being tracked by federal law enforcement agents, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Experts say the investigation that resulted in their convictions was a template for the Justice Department’s counterterrorism strategy, and underscored the fundamental question in each case: How and when should authorities respond to a perceived security threat? For prosecutors and FBI agents, “the investigation was one battle in a war that began in earnest after Sept. 11, 2001, and that continues today in a shadowy world of clashing cultures, religions and languages.”
To law enforcement officials, the five defendants, who were born abroad but raised in Cherry Hill, N.J., were homegrown terrorists willing to die for distorted Islamic beliefs built around violent martyrdom, ruthless beheadings, and bloody intolerance of non-believers. The defendants, who range in age from 23 to 30, all face potential life sentences. “These guys had a plan and they had weapons,” said Karen Greenberg, editor of the Terrorist Trial Report Card of the Center on Law and Security at New York University Law School. That made the Fort Dix conspiracy a more serious threat than some terrorism cases the Justice Department has brought over the last seven years.