CAMDEN, N.J. - A New Jersey baker pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to provide weapons to a group of men accused of plotting an attack on Fort Dix.
Agron Abdullahu, 25, faces up to five years in federal prison.
He is the first person to be convicted in connection with the alarming accusation that a group of young men were planning to raid the nearby Army installation and kill soldiers there.
Abdullahu's public defender, Richard Coughlin, said that if a plot is found to have existed, his client had no role in it.
"My client was essentially used by these other individuals," Coughlin said. "It was never a 'Fort Dix Six.' It was a 'Fort Dix Five,' plus one other person. That was my client."
Authorities arrested the six men in May. All were born abroad but have lived for years in southern New Jersey. The other five were charged with conspiring to kill military personnel, and face life in prison if convicted. The government said those men - brothers Dritan, Shain, and Eljvir Duka; Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer; and Sedar Tatar - scouted out East Coast military installations looking for one to attack.
They settled on Fort Dix largely because Tatar knew his way around from delivering pizzas to the base for his father's restaurant, authorities say.
A trial for the remaining five is scheduled for January.
The government always seemed to consider Abdullahu a smaller player in the case.
He admitted yesterday to letting the Duka brothers, who were all in the United States illegally, use a Beretta 9mm pistol and Yugoslav semiautomatic rifle - both of which he owned legally - at a shooting range in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains in 2006 and 2007.
Court documents filed by the government suggest Abdullahu heard about the plot during the Pocono trips. The government said he told the others at one point it would be against Islam to kill civilians and that it would be "crazy" to attack a military installation.
Abdullahu's family members were in court yesterday. They watched as he answered Judge Robert Kugler's questions with, "Yes, sir," and talked about how he is on anti-anxiety medication after what he described as a "breakdown" early last year.
Since his arrest, Abdullahu has been held in isolation at a federal detention center in Philadelphia. In June, officials found an etching in his cell of an AK-47 shooting at the letters "FBI," as well as graffiti referring to the Kosovo Liberation Army.