A rare court-ordered hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, January 6, 2016 for three brothers whose 2008 case, known as the Fort Dix 5, has become a highlight of the “terrorism” prosecutions of presidential candidate Governor Chris Christie, who was U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002 to 2008. The unusual hearing, which will take place at the Mitchell H. Cohen Building & U.S. Courthouse, 4th and Cooper Streets, in Camden, New Jersey at 9 a.m., will determine whether the three Duka brothers indeed received a fair trial and effective representation from their lawyers.
Before the hearing, supporters from a wide range of social justice organizations will hold a vigil in support of the three Duka brothers at the courthouse from 8:00 a.m. until the beginning of court at 9 a.m. Media are invited to attend the vigil to speak with supporters and family members at 8:30 a.m. Weekly vigils have been held at the courthouse since November 13, sponsored by the Fort Dix Five Committee and Project SALAM (Support And Legal Advocacy for Muslims).
The Duka brothers received life sentences plus 30 years for their questionable role in a government-manufactured “conspiracy” to attack the Fort Dix military base. At their trial in 2008, the government’s own witness (an informant paid to entrap the brothers) conceded that they had never been told about any conversation regarding Fort Dix. But under federal law, in a conspiracy case all associates are considered equally culpable, even if they do not know of the existence of a plan. Thus the Duka brothers were convicted for a plot they literally had never heard of.
The hearing, in response to the men’s self-generated appeals (called 2255 motions), is a rare occurrence because such 2255 motions coming from prisoners after a higher court has denied formal appeals are also usually denied––without a hearing. The trial judge who presided over the Fort Dix 5 case will review the men’s appeal motions and rule on the legal merits. If it is found that the men did not receive a fair trial or effective representation, a variety of remedies could be imposed, including a new trial. Each brother will have a separate appeal hearing on January 6, and each will attend the hearing in person.
In his presidential campaign, Governor Christie has called the Fort Dix 5 case (originally Fort Dix 6), which he prosecuted as U.S. Attorney, “one of the biggest terrorism cases in the world.” However, in several major media articles since the men’s convictions, doubt has been cast upon the entire prosecution. Many articles also question whether the case was a terrorism prosecution at all. The case was a sting (a fictional setup) that employed two government informants, who themselves––not the five defendants (the Duka brothers, a relative, and a friend)––created, constructed, planned, and urged the men to carry out an attack on the Fort Dix army base. The arbitrary choice of a military “target” with Muslim suspects assured high publicity value for both the government and prosecution.
Articles and Videos
“The Troubling Case of the Fort Dix Five ”
“The outrageous, manufactured case against the ‘Fort Dix Five’”“
The Real Story Behind the Fort Dix Five Terror Plot (w/ Murtaz Hussain), 2015, 45:43
Fort Dix Five info mini documentary, 2015, 6:28
This press release was issued by Project SALAM on December 30, 2015.