The two NJ men accused of planning to join a violent extremist group in Somalia to kill American troops were in court yesterday. Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, 20, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 24, were assigned lawyers and will have a bail hearing on Thursday and a hearing about the charges they're facing in two weeks. The US Attorney's office will be arguing against bail, saying, "The government believes that no condition or set of conditions could assure the defendants’ appearance or ensure the safety of the community."

The NY Times reports that "Alessa had what appeared to be bruises on his left temple and the left side of his forehead. There was no immediate explanation for how he got them." Alessa's father said he was hit. US Attorney later said "that both defendants had resisted arrest" and added "that passengers on their two flights were not in danger." The two men were headed to Cairo on separate flights but were arrested at JFK Airport.

Both suspects' families reportedly cooperated with authorities. Alessa's mother told Fox 5 reporter John Huddy that he "has mental problems" and "is crazy," but also said he wouldn't hurt anyone. Almonte's father didn't go to court, telling the Daily News, "I'm not supporting anybody that does something wrong." Almonte had converted to militant Islam in recent years and changed his name to Omar; his father said, "I don't want to talk to anybody - even him... My neighbors know me. They know who I am: a hardworking guy with two or three jobs all my life."

The authorities had been monitoring Alessa and Almonte since 2006 and were helped by an undercover NYPD officer. The officer recorded conversations with the suspects saying things like "I just want the [American] troops to come home safely and cozily... in caskets." Police Commissioner Kelly said, "Our officer is of Egyptian descent and he did an outstanding job. This undercover officer is in his mid twenties and has been with the department since 2005." But one person outside the federal court was skeptical, telling WCBS 2, "It was incitement, that it was entrapment, and it was coerced by an undercover informant."