|Page 3 of 3 <|
The Terrorists Next Door?
They were also no strangers to the police. Tatar and the Dukas were habitual offenders, stopped dozens of times a year for speeding, illegal passing and driving without a license. Dritan Duka pleaded guilty in 2000 to possession of drug paraphernalia and Shain Duka to possession of marijuana -- low-level charges that at the time did not trigger immigration background checks.
Only one brother had a driver's license, and only briefly. But they drove anyway and were ticketed regularly by Cherry Hill police -- including four citations in one five-week period for Dritan Duka. The three had their driving privileges suspended -- meaning they could not even apply for a license -- 54 times in less than a decade.
William Kushina, a Cherry Hill Police Department spokesman, said the department could do nothing about serial unlicensed driving except continue to issue tickets and suspend privileges. "You can't physically restrain a person from driving," he said.
The six men are scheduled for a bail hearing on Friday. But for Cherry Hill, the question is whether the town will sustain the tolerance that is a hallmark of community pride.
Mike Levine, 38, who lives two doors from the Dukas, said they were good neighbors: They gave him vegetables from their garden and were unfailingly pleasant.
"They were your everyday Muslims," he said. "The kids would be out front playing soccer. They seemed hardworking. I would have believed they were aliens before I'd think they were terrorists."
"Now some people on the block are feeling guilty we didn't pick up on something," he continued. "I don't want to worry what the people next door are doing behind closed doors. I don't want to think like that, but maybe now I have to."
Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report from Washington.