U.S. law enforcement officials say the men planned for more than a year to attack Fort Dix with the goal of killing at least 100 American soldiers using rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons.
The men were arrested after they tried to buy AK-47 automatic rifles and semi-automatic M-16s from an undercover informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
U.S. officials say four of the men were born in the former Yugoslavia, one in Jordan and one in Turkey. All have been living in the United States for a long time, some legally in the country while others are illegal immigrants.
U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie says the suspects are not directly connected to an international terrorist organization, but were inspired by al-Qaida and other jihadist groups. "Terrorist attacks are about creating terror. An attack on an American military institution in our country clearly would have created the type of terror that people like these who believe in jihad want to try to perpetrate against innocent American citizens," he said.
U.S. investigators say the plot was uncovered when the suspects took a videotape of themselves firing assault weapons to a local store to have the footage transferred onto a DVD. A store clerk alerted police and that sparked the investigation.
Court documents say the suspects had maps of Fort Dix, engaged in reconnaissance and expressed willingness to kill and die in the name of Allah.
FBI Agent Jody Weis says while progress is being made in the war on terror, a case like this indicates the struggle is far from over. "What we are witnessing here is kind of a brand new form of terrorism. Today threats come from smaller, more loosely defined individuals and cells who may or may not be affiliated with al-Qaida, but who are inspired by their violent ideology. These home grown terrorists can prove to be as dangerous as any known group, if not more so," he said.
Prosecutors say the suspects often watched terror training videos, clips featuring Osama bin Laden, and tapes of armed attacks on U.S. military personnel.