Seven North Carolinians charged in terror plot

The indictment, unsealed Monday, says they were planning to attack targets overseas. It is not clear if they were connected to Al Qaeda.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Seven North Carolina men were arrested and charged on Monday with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists overseas.

Federal authorities also charged the men with plotting to murder, kidnap, and maim individuals overseas as part of a plan to wage what prosecutors said was "violent jihad."

The lead defendant, Daniel Patrick Boyd, is an alleged "veteran of terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan," officials said.

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He allegedly conspired for three years to recruit young men to travel overseas for jihad, they said.

"These charges hammer home the point that terrorists and their supporters are not confined to the remote regions of some faraway land but can grow and fester right here at home," said US Attorney George Holding.

The seven men appeared in federal court in Raleigh, N.C., and were ordered held without bond pending a detention hearing set for Thursday.

It is unclear whether the group is alleged to be connected to Al Qaeda or some other overseas radical group. No such group is identified in a 14-page indictment unsealed on Monday. In addition, it is unclear who the intended victims of the group might be. No precise plot is identified in the indictment beyond a broad goal of waging "violent jihad."

According to the indictment, Boyd traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he "received military-style training in terrorist training camps for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad." But the indictment says this training took place between 1989 and 1992. The indictment adds, "Boyd fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union."

It is unclear how Boyd's training connects to the North Carolina conspiracy. Under the federal law relied on by prosecutors, they must prove that the seven men conspired in the United States to conduct violent acts against individuals overseas.

The conspiracy alleged in the indictment extends from November 2006 to July 2009. The indictment says the defendants and their co-conspirators prepared to become holy warriors and to die as martyrs.

"Certain of the defendants radicalized others, mostly young Muslims or converts to Islam, to believe in ... the idea that violent jihad was a personal obligation on the part of every good Muslim," the indictment says.

Specifically, the indictment says Boyd and his son, Zakariya Boyd, traveled to Gaza in March 2006, where the elder Boyd "attempted to enter Palestine in order to introduce his son to individuals who also believed that violent jihad was a personal obligation."

Boyd and his son traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 12, 2007. They returned to the US a month later, according to the indictment, "having failed in their attempt to engage in violent jihad."

Boyd is also charged with lying to US officials about his travel plans and with purchasing a number of rifles and other firearms. In June and July, Boyd, his son, and another alleged member of the conspiracy "practiced military tactics and the use of weapons on private property in Caswell County" in the north-central region of North Carolina, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the defendants face up to life in prison.

"The threat that extremists and radicals pose to America and our allies has not dulled or gone away. These arrests today show there are people living among us, in our communities in North Carolina and around the US, that are honing their skills to carry out acts of murder and mayhem," said Owen Harris, the FBI agent in charge of bureau's Charlotte division. "Their ultimate goals is to wage war on freedom and democracy."

In addition to Boyd and his son, others charged were: Hysen Sherifi, Anes Subasic, Dylan Boyd, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, and Ziyad Yaghi – all in their 20s and early 30s.

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