Triangle terrorism case heading to jury
Posted October 10, 2011
Updated October 11, 2011
New Bern, N.C. — Three men accused of being members of a terrorist cell based in Johnston County spent less than a day presenting their defense, and their case could be in the jury's hands by Tuesday afternoon.
Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 23, Ziyad Yaghi, 22, and Hysen Sherifi, 26, face multiple felony charges related to allegations they conspired to attack targets overseas. Sherifi also is accused of plotting an attack on the Marine base in Quantico, Va. Closing arguments in their case will be presented Tuesday.
A federal indictment unsealed in 2009 alleges that they and five other Triangle men raised money to buy assault weapons and conduct training exercises and that they arranged overseas travel and contacts to help others carry out violent acts on behalf of a radical jihadist political agenda.
The government spent three weeks presenting its case, including testimony from the accused ringleader of the terror cell, Daniel Patrick Boyd, his two sons and confidential FBI informants.
An FBI search of Daniel Boyd's Willow Spring home in 2009 turned up about two dozen guns and more than 27,000 rounds of ammunition. Authorities said he and the other men trained in the weeks leading up to their arrest, practicing military tactics with armor-piercing bullets in Caswell County.
Hassan and Yaghi presented no evidence in their defense, while Sherifi chose to testify Monday.
Sherifi, who wore leg irons, appeared uncomfortable on the witness stand and was combative during cross-examination. When prosecutors confronted him with audio recordings in which he appeared to be plotting attacks, he said he was merely translating information for others, was quoting anti-American statements made by others or was only trying to please an FBI informant, who pressured him into supporting radical actions.
Sherifi also denied going with Boyd and his sons, Dylan and Zakariya, to Caswell County for military training exercises. He said the group was only firing guns for fun and that he knows nothing about weapons.
Daniel Boyd pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons in a foreign country. Dylan and Zak Boyd have both pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
All three men will be sentenced later.
A seventh defendant, Anes Subasic, is representing himself and will be tried after the case against Hassan, Yaghi and Sherifi is finished.
Authorities believe another man charged in the case, Jude Kenan Mohammad, 22, is in Pakistan. A ninth member of the group, Bajram Asllani, 30, was arrested in Kosovo last year, but the U.S. doesn't have an extradition treaty with that country.