Security tight as Triangle terrorism trial begins
Posted September 19, 2011
New Bern, N.C. — Jury selection began Monday in the federal trial of three Triangle men accused of plotting terrorist attacks.
Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi 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.
A fourth defendant, Anes Subasic, has waived his right to an attorney and is representing himself. He will be tried following the conclusion of proceedings against the other three.
Security was tight at the federal courthouse in New Bern, where only one person was allowed inside at a time to go through screening. About a half-dozen people were at the courthouse to support the three defendants, who were shackled.
Prospective jurors answered questions about their background and knowledge of the case, and the defendants quietly took notes during the process.
Senior U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan said she expects the trial to last five weeks, noting dozens of witnesses from 16 states and the nations of Egypt and Jordan could be called to testify.
Accused ringleader Daniel Patrick 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. His sons, Dylan and Zakariya Boyd, have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
A federal indictment unsealed in 2009 alleges that eight 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 indictment paints Daniel Boyd, a drywall contractor from Willow Spring, as an experienced jihadist who traveled to Afghanistan in 1989 to join the fight against Soviet occupation. Prosecutors played audio tapes at a 2009 court hearing of Daniel Boyd talking about his disgust with the U.S. military, the honor of martyrdom and the need to protect Muslims.
The FBI said its 2009 search of Boyd's home turned up about two dozen guns and more than 27,000 rounds of ammunition. Authorities have previously said the men trained in the weeks leading up to their arrest, practicing military tactics with armor-piercing bullets in Caswell County.
Authorities believe another man charged in the case, Jude Kenan Mohammad, 22, is in Pakistan, although The Wall Street Journal recently reported that he was tied to a threatened terrorist attack in New York or Washington, D.C., on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
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.