via NewsEdge Corporation
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J._One of the men accused of plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix had recently applied to be a police officer in two big cities - a move some authorities believe may have been an effort to infiltrate law enforcement agencies.
Serdar Tatar, 23, applied for a job in Philadelphia last month, police spokesman Sgt. D.F. Pace said Wednesday.
"Based on what we know now, I don't think his intentions were good," Pace said.
Tatar also applied for a job in the Oakland, Calif., Police Department, according to a law enforcement official speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Roland Holmgren, an Oakland police spokesman, said he could not immediately confirm whether Tatar had applied there.
Tatar's lawyer, Richard Sparaco, would not comment on the job applications Wednesday, and neither would U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.
Philadelphia police rejected Tatar, a Turkish citizen and legal U.S. resident, because he was not a U.S. citizen and had not lived in the city long enough to be eligible, Pace said. Tatar had lived there for about eight months when he applied, less than the city's one-year requirement.
He applied at a police job fair on April 10.
It isn't known when or where Tatar applied to join the Oakland police force or why he would try to join an organization thousands of miles away.
Tatar may have also wanted to join the Army, according to conversations recorded in March by an FBI informant during the investigation. A second suspect in the case told the informant that Tatar wanted to join the Army so he could kill soldiers from the "inside," according to a court filing.
"He had only one mind," a third suspect, Dritan Duka, told the informant, according to the court documents. "How to kill American soldiers."
Army spokesman Lenny Gatto said Wednesday that he did not know whether Tatar had applied to join the Army, which does not require U.S. citizenship.
Tatar, an out-of-work clerk whose last job was at a Philadelphia convenience store, and five others were arrested May 7 and charged with planning an attack on Fort Dix, which is 25 miles east of Philadelphia and is primarily used to train reservists.
Tatar was a key player in the plan, authorities said, because he knew his way around the base from his time delivering pizzas there for the shop his father owns nearby. According to court filings, Tatar told an FBI informant last November that he would take a map of the base from his father's restaurant.
Tatar then called Philadelphia police and reported that he was being pressured to obtain a map of Fort Dix - and feared it was terrorism-related, according to court filings. Authorities have said that they believe he made the call in an effort to learn whether the informant was a law enforcement agent.
Philadelphia police told the FBI about the call.
According to the court filings, he also got over those feelings quickly, despite worries about the informant's reliability.
"I'm gonna do it. Whether you are or not (FBI), I'm gonna do it," he told the informant, according to the document. "Know why? It doesn't matter to me, whether I get locked up, arrested, or get taken away, it doesn't matter. Or I die, doesn't matter, I'm doing it in the name of Allah."
Later that evening, Tatar delivered the map, authorities said.
Authorities have said the men went to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania in February to train for an attack. Sparaco said Wednesday that his client did not make that trip.
Tatar is charged, along with Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer and the brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, of conspiring to kill military personnel. They could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. A sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, is charged with providing weapons to illegal aliens, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.
All six men are being held without bail.