30 Apr 09

Macedonian Albanians Jailed for Terrorism in US

Three ethnic Albanian brothers born in the western Macedonian city of Debar on Tuesday were sentenced to a life in prison by a US court on grounds of terrorism.
By Sinisa-Jakov Marusic
The court found the brothers guilty of plotting to kill soldiers in the US military base Fort Dix in New Jersey, the local Makfax news agency reported.

Dritan Duka (aged 30), Shain Duka (aged 28) and Elvir Duka (aged 25), all alleged immigrants, were part of a five member group of foreign-born Muslims that the prosecutors said was inspired by the idea of a holy war against the United States.

The other two convicted men, Mohamad Shnewer, a Jordanian-born taxi driver from Philadelphia, and Serdar Tatar, a convenience store clerk born in Turkey, are to be sentenced on Wednesday.

The brothers' defence said they were innocent and claimed the three were framed.

The group was arrested in April 2007, after an FBI informant who infiltrated the group obtained audio and video recordings showing the men purchasing seven automatic rifles that they would use in their planned terrorist attack. The footage also showed the men shooting into the air. 

The case has stirred much attention in their home country as Macedonia, which hopes to become a NATO and EU member and has stood side by side with US forces in Afghanistan and previously in Iraq.

The three sentenced came from the country’s estimated one quarter ethnic Albanian community, a community that has a markedly positive attitude towards the US, especially after the US supported Kosovo's declaration of independence last year.

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