National Security

Disbelief greets terrorism charges against 7 in N.C.

Daniel Patrick Boyd, 39, was considered the ringleader of the group. He fought with Afghan Muslims against the Soviet Union.
Daniel Patrick Boyd, 39, was considered the ringleader of the group. He fought with Afghan Muslims against the Soviet Union. Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — To those they lived among, seven men accused of an intricate terrorism plot lived simply, quietly and kindly.

To neighbors and friends, Daniel Boyd was a father who stopped his work at noon each day for prayer. Dylan Boyd, Daniel's son, was a college student at N.C. State University who until last year worked as a clinical services technician at WakeMed Raleigh Campus. Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan was a newlywed; his father owns a Raleigh car dealership.

To federal authorities, these men and four others plotted to kill themselves and others in the name of Islam. Their activities, tracked by FBI agents over three years and detailed in federal indictments released Monday, tell of an elaborate scheme hatched in a quiet Johnston County neighborhood and nondescript apartment complexes across Raleigh and Cary.

Those arrested Monday include Daniel Patrick Boyd, 39, who was considered the ringleader of the group, and who fought with Afghan Muslims against the Soviets; Hysen Sherifi, 24; Anes Subasic, 33; Zakariya Boyd, 20, and Dylan Boyd, 22; Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 22; and Ziyad Yaghi, a 21-year-old Cary High School graduate.

All but one of the defendants are American citizens. Sherifi, a native of Kosovo, is living in the United States legally.

All seven men are charged with conspiring to provide support to terrorists and conspiring to murder, kidnap, maim and injure people abroad. Each is expected to have a detention hearing this week. Until then, they are being held without bond. They have not been appointed lawyers. Efforts to reach their families were unsuccessful Monday night.

Federal authorities stormed the men's homes Monday and arrested them. Hours later, they stood before a federal magistrate and learned they could spend the rest of their lives in prison if found guilty of the charges against them. At nightfall, federal agents continued to search their homes, taking several vans and dozens of agents to their quiet neighborhoods.

News of the arrests rattled those in the Triangle whom the seven had befriended.

"If he's a terrorist, he's the nicest terrorist I've ever met in my life," said Charles Casale, a neighbor to Boyd and his sons who often chatted with them. Casale said the senior Boyd often invited him and his wife to visit. When the two chatted near the pond that separated their properties, Boyd would excuse himself to pray when the sun reached its noon-day height.

Federal documents released Monday detail a half-dozen trips members of the group made to Israel and Pakistan. Investigators believe the men meant to wage a violent jihad, killing themselves and others in bombings meant to defend Muslims from oppression. All failed, for reasons not specified in federal documents.

Investigators say the Boyds stockpiled military-style weapons and trained at a rural site in Caswell County, on the Virginia border north of Alamance and Orange counties. The investigators say that Daniel Boyd split from his mainstream mosque in Raleigh this year over "ideological differences," according to the indictment.

A spokesman at the Islamic Center in Raleigh said he did not know the suspects; an estimated 1,200 people attend Friday services at the center. Hassan and Yaghi both attended Al-Iman School, which shares space with the Raleigh mosque, according to former teacher Samar Hindi. Most recently, Daniel Boyd had been attending Jamaat Ibad Ar-Rahman, a mosque in Durham.

"In our dealings, we found them to be people of good moral character," said Hisham Heda, board chairman at the Durham mosque.

Related stories from McClatchy DC