Raleigh, N.C. — Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that one member of a North Carolina group that sought to wage "violent jihad" is still at large.
Meanwhile, a clearer picture began to form of the seven men arrested Monday in the alleged terror plot.
U.S. Attorney George Holding said authorities hope to soon apprehend the eighth person described in an indictment unsealed a day earlier. The person's name is redacted from court papers and appears only as a blank space in the text of the indictment.
A WRAL News source identified the suspect as Jude Kenan Mohammad, a 20-year-old from Wake County. Federal authorities are searching for him in Pakistan, the source said.
The indictment says the eighth defendant is a U.S. citizen who went to Pakistan in October 2008 to "engage in violent jihad." It doesn't say whether the person returned to the United States, and Holding declined to discuss the person's whereabouts.
Mohammad reportedly dropped out of Fuquay-Varina High School in 2006 and left the U.S. last year to travel to his father's homeland in Pakistan. He made national news in October when he was arrested in Pakistan for traveling illegally into a tribal region along the Afghanistan border.
Mohammad was reportedly carrying a laptop, maps and CDs at the time, but his mother in the U.S. told reporters last fall that the incident was a misunderstanding.
His mother told WRAL News by phone late Tuesday that she does not know where her son is, but added that he is likely nowhere near Raleigh.
Willow Spring family at center of case
Authorities haven't disclosed how they learned of the alleged conspiracy, but according to an indictment, Daniel Patrick Boyd, also known as "Saifullah," which means "sword of God," and seven other men worked to provide resources to terrorists over the last three years.
Boyd, a 39-year-old drywall installer who authorities said led the operation, lives in Willow Spring with his family. His two sons, Dylan Boyd, 22, and Zakariya "Zak" Boyd, 20, both graduates of West Johnston High School, are also charged in the case.
“I have not been allowed to speak to my husband, and I have not been allowed to speak to my eldest son,” Daniel Boyd's wife, Sabrina, said in an interview provided late Tuesday by CNN.
Earlier Tuesday, she said in a statement that the charges against her husband and sons are unsubstantiated at this point, and she asked that the public refrain from a "rush to judgment" so that all of the facts can come out about the case.
"We're an ordinary family. We have the right to justice, and we believe that justice will prevail," Sabrina Boyd said. "We are decent people who care about other human beings. Just because something is said in the media does not make it so. I have raised my sons to be good people, and we are a good family."
Authorities searched the Boyds’ Willow Spring home, at 134 Lakeside Circle, Monday afternoon. A list of items seized from the home wasn't immediately available.
The indictments allege Daniel Boyd obtained a variety of weapons to support his efforts, including a Bushmaster M4A3 rifle, an ETA M16 V System C-MAG and a Ruger mini 14 long gun.
“What I do know that he did, is that he purchased guns legally like many Americans do,” Sabrina Boyd said during the CNN provided interview.
Neighbors described the Boyds as a regular suburban family who happened to be Muslim. They said the family held regular prayer services and played Middle Eastern-sounding music.
"They were great neighbors. We never had any trouble with them. Their kids played with our kids,” neighbor Heather Roegner said. "It is crazy. I don't know what to think."
Along with the Boyds, Hysen Sherifi, 24, Anes Subasic, 33, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 22, and Ziyad Yaghi, 21, have been charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to murder, kidnap and injure persons abroad.
All of the men, except for Subasic, are expected to appear in federal court on Thursday. Subasic has requested a Yugoslavian interpreter, and his initial appearance will be delayed until the government can arrange for one to be in court, officials said.
Accused ringleader spent time in Afghanistan, Israel
Daniel Boyd attended high school in Alexandria, Va., in the mid-1980s, but it's unclear whether he graduated, according to WUSA-TV, a CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. The indictment alleges that he later trained in guerrilla camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and fought in Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992.
Sabrina Boyd said her husband was fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan – an effort that was supported by the U.S. government – and she didn't want his time there linked with terrorist activity.
"At that time, the United States fully supported the mujahedeen of Afghanistan," said Khalilah Sabra, state executive director for the Muslim American Society. "I think he thought it was part of his patriotic duty as a Muslim and as an American to go there and to fight."
Published reports from the time show Boyd was charged in a bank robbery in Pakistan. The case was later dropped and the sentence he faced, a severed hand and foot, was never carried out.
The Boyds' third son, 16-year-old Luqman “Luke” Izzubeen Boyd, died in a single-car wreck in Johnston County in April 2007.
Two months later, according to the indictment, Daniel Boyd traveled to Israel with several of the other defendants, hoping to engage in "violent jihad" that included “supporting and participating in terrorist activities abroad and committing acts of murder, kidnapping or maiming persons." They failed in their efforts, and the men returned home, the indictment states.
Sabra said she didn't have specific information about Boyd's trip to Israel, but noted many Muslims make pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
"It's a religious place to us that's almost equal to Medina and Mecca," she said.
Sources told WRAL News that the Boyd family broke from the Islamic Center of Raleigh because of Daniel Boyd's strong opinions about the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and the plight of Palestinians in Israel. The family then bounced between various local prayer services, including some at Shaw University.
Rasheed Barbee, the leader of a mosque in Durham, said he knew Daniel Boyd from worship in Raleigh. After initially admiring Boyd, he said he realized they didn't have the same views on Islam.
"As a lot of youth have, he was upset about what goes on around the world – what happens with the Muslims around the world – and (was) very emotional about that," Barbee said.
He said Boyd never tried to recruit him into terrorist activities and never spoke to him about his time in Afghanistan.
Leaders of the Jamaat Ibad Ar-Rahman mosque in Durham issued a statement Tuesday saying that the Boyds occasionally worshiped there and that they consulted Daniel Boyd regarding construction projects.
"In our dealings with Mr. Boyd and his family, we found them to be people of good moral character," the statement said.
Sabra said Boyd's opinions on the wars in the Middle East weren't out of the norm for many Muslims.
"These situations have caused a lot of pain in our community," she said. "If someone has a particular ideology, and they choose to practice that ideology in extreme ways, we as the Muslim community and organizations have nothing to do with that.
"There is no obligation to make jihad in this country."
Other terror suspects also lived in Triangle
Yaghi dropped out of Athens Drive High School during his sophomore year in 2005, according to school officials. A source told WRAL News he occasionally worked at the Islamic Center of Raleigh and was there as recently as last Friday.
He was convicted last year of felonious restraint after being charged with kidnapping and robbery. He spent four months in jail and was released on probation.
Defense attorney Bert Nunley, who represented Yaghi last year, said he met with him Tuesday at the Wake County Detention Center to discuss the terrorism charges.
"Obviously, he's a little disappointed," Nunley said. "He's disappointed that people are putting labels on him. There's been no evidence that I've seen to date ... that would support these charges."
The FBI had been tracking Yaghi for some time, Nunley said. Hassan's neighbors said he also had been targeted by federal agents for a while. FBI agents had been to his Raleigh apartment several times over the last year, they said.
There was no answer at Hassan's Raleigh apartment Tuesday. He was a sociology major at North Carolina State University as recently as the spring semester, but he hadn't graduated, according to school officials.
Sherifi's neighbors described him as a nice, young man from Kosovo who always said hello. The family has lived in Raleigh for about five years, neighbors said, but there was no answer at their home Tuesday.
Subasic lives in Holly Springs with his father, who declined to comment Tuesday. Neighbors said FBI agents surrounded the home Monday and escorted Subasic out in handcuffs.
From June 10 to July 7, the indictment states, the seven suspects spent time training for holy war on private property in Caswell County.
An FBI spokeswoman said Tuesday that there is no "terrorist training camp" in the rural county, but she declined to say if authorities believe the suspects rented out wooded farmland for their activities or spent time at a hunting reserve or shooting range.