WASHINGTON – A father, his two sons and four other men living in North Carolina are accused of military-style training at home and plotting "violent jihad" abroad, federal authorities said.
Officials said Monday the men were 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 court records indicate Boyd was a veteran of terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan who fought against the Soviet Union.
"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.
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.
The indictment said Boyd, a U.S. citizen, trained in Afghanistan and fought there between 1989 and 1992 before returning to the United States. Court documents charged that Boyd, also known as 'Saifullah,' encouraged others to engage in jihad.
Boyd's faith was so brash that, this year, he stopped attending worship services in the Raleigh area and instead began meeting for Friday prayers in his home.
"This is not an indictment of the entire Muslim community," Holding said. "These people had broken away because their local mosque did not follow their vision of being a good Muslim."
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.
They were each sentenced to have a foot and a hand cut off for the robbery, but the sentenced was later overturned.
The wives of the men told The Associated Press in an interview at the time they were glad the truth about their husbands had finally become known. The wives said the couples had U.S. roots but the United States was a country of "kafirs" — Arabic for heathens.
Jim Stephenson, a neighbor of Patrick Boyd in Willow Spring, said he saw the Boyd family walking their dog in the neighborhood. He said 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 also was charged in the case. He was the only person arrested who was not a U.S. citizen.
The suspects face charges of providing material support to terrorism and "conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad."
All were residents of North Carolina. 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.
Prosecutors say Boyd's time in Pakistan included terrorist training that he brought back to North Carolina, where over the past three years he recruited followers willing to die as martyrs waging jihad. Prosecutors would not detail what the group was targeting overseas.
The indictment said they provided money, training, transportation and men to help terrorists. Boyd and some of the others traveled to Israel in June 2007 intending to wage "violent jihad," but returned home without success, the document said.
Boyd also was accused of trying to raise money last year to fund others' travel overseas to fight. One of the men, Hysen Sharifi, allegedly went to Kosovo to engage in violent jihad, according to the indictment, but it's unclear if he did any actual fighting.
Several of the defendants, including Boyd, were also charged with practicing military tactics on a private property in Caswell County in June and July of this year.
In 1991 in Pakistan, Daniel Boyd and his older brother denied they were guilty of stealing $3,200 from the bank. When the sentence was imposed, Boyd shouted: "This isn't an Islamic court. It's a court of infidels!"
The brothers had become the first foreigners to be convicted and sentenced by special Islamic courts set up by the conservative federal government to impose speedy trials for so-called "heinous" crimes.
About a month later, when their convictions were overturned, Daniel Boyd said, "The truth has finally come out."
The men's wives, also Americans, refused to answer questions about their husbands' links to the Afghan mujahedeen, or Islamic holy warriors, though they did say their husbands embraced Islam nine years earlier.
Boyd's wife, Sabrina, had three sons with her in Pakistan at the time of the sentencing: 3-year-old Zakariya, 1-year-old Luqman and 5-year-old Mohammed. The indictment filed in North Carolina says Dylan Boyd is also known as Mohammed.