Associated Press | October 28, 2008

CAMDEN, NJ - Being an informant for the FBI in the Fort Dix terror investigation has paid well, a witness explained to jurors yesterday.

John Stermel, an investigator assigned to an FBI counterterrorism task force, spent yesterday morning on the stand detailing the role of informant Mahmoud Omar, who wore a wire for 16 months in the investigation of five men accused of planning to shoot soldiers at the Army base.

Defense lawyers say it was Omar who tried to plot an attack - not their clients.

For his help, authorities will recommend that immigration officials, who once were considering deporting Omar, offer him legal-resident status or perhaps even citizenship, Stermel testified.

By year's end, Omar will have received nearly $240,000 for his help - $185,000 in payments plus reimbursement for $25,000 in expenses and nearly $29,000 in rent.

Weekly payments of $1,500 began in August 2006, the month Omar went with one of the defendants, Mohamad Shnewer, to check out Fort Dix.

Anticipating defense attacks on Omar's credibility, a prosecutor asked Stermel about Omar's missteps.

Among them: He tested positive for marijuana once while on probation; he admitted selling a Social Security number and was caught in a bank-fraud case for which he has not been prosecuted.

Besides Shnewer, the defendants are Serdar Tatar and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka.