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Three Triangle men convicted of terrorism conspiracy

Posted October 13, 2011
Updated October 14, 2011

Triangle terror case: Yaghi, Sherifi, Hassan

— A jury on Thursday found three Triangle men guilty of conspiring to aid terrorist activities overseas.

Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 23, Ziyad Yaghi, 22, and Hysen Sherifi, 26, were among seven area men arrested in July 2009 on charges that they raised money to buy assault weapons and conduct training exercises. They also were accused of arranging overseas travel and contacts to help others carry out violent acts on behalf of a radical jihadist political agenda.

Jurors deliberated for about 10 hours over two days before finding all three guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Yaghi and Sherifi also were convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure people, but the jury acquitted Hassan on that charge.

Sherifi also was found guilty of two weapons counts and a charge of conspiracy to kill federal employees for a plot to attack the Marine base in Quantico, Va.

Relatives of the three men wept and expressed disbelief as they left the federal courthouse in New Bern.

"The truth will come. It's a long nightmare. It's not over," said Hassan's father, Aly Hassan. "Omar is innocent, and with the appeal, I'm sure he's going to come out."

Sherifi and Yaghi face up to life in prison when they are sentenced later, while Hassan faces up to 15 years in prison.

Aly Hassan said they were upset the trial started a week after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

"People came here scared," he said. "We still love this country. We defend this country. If there's anything again in this country, we'll be the first people to fight for it. So, that's why we're so disappointed (by the verdicts)."

The government spent three weeks presenting its case against the trio, including testimony from the accused ringleader of the terror cell, Daniel Patrick Boyd, his two sons and confidential FBI informants.

Terror trial verdicts Families stunned, saddened by verdicts in terror case

Boyd pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy charges, and sons Dylan and Zakariya Boyd also have pleaded guilty in the case. All three will be sentenced later.

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.

During closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutors said Hassan, Sherifi and Yaghi had a mutual understanding and an objective. They pointed to 77 phone calls between Yaghi and Daniel Boyd as evidence of a relationship and not just an acquaintance.

“What we have before us is a stark and frightening reality,” said Jason Kellhofer of the U.S. Justice Department.

Defense lawyers say the men were not privy to Daniel Boyd's plans and the government's case comes down to prosecuting Muslim men for debating controversial ideas within their religion and watching jihadist videos on their computers.

Hassan and Yaghi presented no evidence in their defense, while Sherifi chose to testify Monday. He dismissed audio recordings of his discussions with Daniel Boyd in which he appeared to be plotting attacks, saying 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.

A seventh defendant, Anes Subasic, will have a separate trial after deciding to represent himself in court.

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.


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  • fayncmike Oct 14, 2011

    ""47% say they are Muslims first and Americans second;"

    I wonder what the percentage would be if you asked christians the same question? If they are following the Bible, that should be an easy question, right?

    That's a very valid point. The hardline Christians are every bit as fanatical as the al Qaeda and every bit as counter productive.

  • seriouslyrevoked Oct 14, 2011

    America’s war of revenge against Japan was a race war. Newsreels, movies, magazines, comic books, headlines treated “Japs” as a repulsive race whose extermination would benefit mankind....Only well after the war was over was it re-branded a war to bring the blessings of democracy to...Japan.

    We may deny the existence of ethnonationalism, detest it, condemn it. But this creator and destroyer of empires and nations is a force infinitely more powerful than globalism, for it engages the heart. Men will die for it. Religion, race, culture and tribe are the four horsemen of the coming apocalypse. While I don't agree with Pat Buchanan on his anti Semitic beliefs, the quote above is entirely relevant, especially in our suicidal pc euphoric era.

  • bill0 Oct 14, 2011

    "47% say they are Muslims first and Americans second;"

    I wonder what the percentage would be if you asked christians the same question? If they are following the Bible, that should be an easy question, right?

  • seriouslyrevoked Oct 14, 2011

    Pew research on American Muslim's: fewer than half believe 911 attacks involved Arabs; 47% say they are Muslims first and Americans second; only 35% believe America should have gone to war with Afghanistan; only 36% African American Muslims have unfavorable opinion of al Qaeda; American born Muslims under 30 are twice as likely as older Muslims to believe suicide bombing in defense of Islam is acceptable. A poster referred to these Muslims as "bozo's", this attitude is a mistake. Islam has been and is a very committed belief system and has for 1,400 years followed Jihad faithfully and will continue to victory or defeat.

  • bill0 Oct 14, 2011

    grimreaper - you might want to research that a little more before you comment on the weapons in question. The guns start on photo #7. Not a lot of "grandpa's hunting rifles" in that batch.


    Also, no, not all rifle ammunition is "armor piercing." That is a description of the casing and tip - ie harder material = more penetration in armor. A traditional bullet fired at high velocity basically just exploded when it hits an armored surface.

  • grimreaper Oct 14, 2011

    Let's be clear here...the article uses some sensationalism...there is no law against owning any certain number of guns or ammunition for that matter...27,000 rounds of ammunition is not a lot by any stretch of the imagination (picture 27 boxes the size a pair of boots might come in) and ALL high powered rifle ammunition is "armor piercing" simply due to velocity...2 dozen "firearms" which is left totally unqualified for sensationalism purposes...they don't detail them because most are just good old hunting rifles and shotguns just like your grandpa has...there is no Hollywood drama here for these firearms where they make everyone believe machine guns are all over...no illegal exotic automatic stuff as its just not obtainable...the use of the term "assault weapons" is incorrect and again simply for sensationalism...

    These bozos are primarily in trouble for conspiracy...not for owning firearms or ammunition...

  • bill0 Oct 14, 2011

    "I haven't followed this case very closely, but did they buy any weapons that are illegal for a person to purchase?"

    The weapons themselves weren't illegal - just lots of them.

    The law is pretty clear on where you cross the line though. You can talk about anything you want. Once you start taking steps to actually carry out those plans, you've crossed the line. The actual steps can actually be legal in themselves, but still be part of a conspiracy whose end goal is illegal. eg Talking about wanting to blow up a federal building is legal. Renting a u-haul is legal. Buying fertilizer is legal. Driving is legal. However, if you say your are going to blow up a federal building, then you rent a truck, then you fill it with fertilizer, then you start driving towards the federal building - the government doesn't have to wait for you to actually blow up the building.

  • chevybelair57sd Oct 14, 2011

    Has the investigation revealed their source of money or guns? has it accomplished anything other than convictions?

  • fayncmike Oct 13, 2011

    "You mean Bush and Obama

    No actually I said Bush and Hitler, and Bush and Hitler is what I meant to say.

  • tcndc2 Oct 13, 2011

    Wonder how many Boyd supporters(remember them?) stood by them after these weapons were found buried next door!??