RALEIGH, N.C. – A father, his two sons and four other North Carolina men are accused of military-style training at home and plotting "violent jihad" through a series of terror attacks abroad, federal authorities said Monday.
Officials said the group was led by Daniel Patrick Boyd, a married 39-year-old who lived in an unassuming lakeside home in a rural area south of Raleigh, where he and his family walked their dog and operated a drywall business. But two decades ago, Boyd, who is a U.S. citizen, trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan and fought against the Soviets for three years before returning to the United States.
An indictment released Monday does not detail any specific terrorist plans or targets overseas, although it claims some of the defendants traveled to Israel in 2007 with the intent of waging "violent jihad" and returned home without success.
"These charges hammer home the point that terrorists and their supporters are not confined to the remote regions of some far away land but can grow and fester right here at home," U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding said. He would not give details of the alleged plots beyond what was in a news release and indictment.
The seven men made their first court appearances in Raleigh on Monday, charged with providing material support to terrorism. If convicted, they could face life in prison. Court documents charged that Boyd, also known as 'Saifullah,' encouraged others to engage in jihad.
Boyd's beliefs did not concur with his Raleigh-area moderate mosque, which he stopped attending and instead began meeting for Friday prayers in his home, said Holding, who did not say whether any or all the defendants met with him.
"These people had broken away because their local mosque did not follow their vision of being a good Muslim," Holding said. "This is not an indictment of the entire Muslim community."
In 1991, Boyd and his brother were convicted of bank robbery in Pakistan — accused of carrying identification showing they belonged to the radical Afghan guerrilla group, Hezb-e-Islami, or Party of Islam. Each was sentenced to have a foot and a hand cut off for the robbery, but the decision was later overturned.
Their wives told The Associated Press in an interview at the time that the couples had U.S. roots but the United States was a country of "kafirs" — Arabic for heathens.
Jim Stephenson, a neighbor of Daniel Boyd in Willow Spring, said he saw the family walking their dog in the neighborhood and that the indictment shocked the residents.
"We never saw anything to give any clues that something like that could be going on in their family," Stephenson said.
Two of the suspects are Boyd's sons: Zakariya Boyd, 20 and Dylan Boyd, 22. The others are Anes Subasic, 33; Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 22; and Ziyad Yaghi, 21. Hysen Sherifi, 24, a native of Kosovo and a U.S. legal permanent was also charged in the case. He was the only person arrested who was not a U.S. citizen.
No attorneys for the men were listed in court records.
Reached at her home in Silver Spring, Md., Boyd's mother said she had not heard of their arrests and knew nothing about the current case.
"It certainly sounds weird to me," Pat Saddler said. "That's news to me."
Hassan's father declined to comment Monday night while others did not have listed numbers or did not return calls.
It's unclear how authorities learned of the activities, although court documents indicate that prosecutors will introduce evidence gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
After the unsuccessful attempt at jihad in Israel, the men returned home, officials said. Court papers also say Yaghi went to Jordan to engage in jihad in 2006.
Boyd was also accused of trying to raise money last year to fund others' travel overseas to fight. One of the men, Sherifi, went to Kosovo to engage in violent jihad, according to the indictment, but it's unclear if he did any actual fighting.