State News

Three Triangle men sentenced on terrorism charges

Posted January 13, 2012

Triangle terror case: Yaghi, Sherifi, Hassan

— A federal judge sentenced three Triangle men Friday to prison for their roles in a terrorist cell that authorities said plotted attacks on a Marine base in Virginia and foreign targets.

Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi were convicted after a month-long trial that started around the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hassan, Yaghi and Sherifi were part of a group of eight men who federal investigators say raised money, stockpiled weapons and trained in preparation for jihadist attacks against American military targets and others they deemed enemies of Islam.

Sherifi was sentenced to 45 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to terrorism and conspiring to carry out attacks overseas, two counts of firearms possession and conspiring to kill federal officers or employees. The last charge stems from discussions he had with Daniel Patrick Boyd, the leader of the terrorist cell, about attacking the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps base.

Yaghi was sentenced to more than 31 years in prison and ordered to pay an $8,000 fine for conspiring to provide material support to terrorism and conspiring to carry out attacks overseas.

Hassan, who was acquitted of conspiring to carry out attacks overseas, received the maximum 15-year sentence and a $5,000 fine for providing material support to terrorists. In November, Senior U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan denied his request to override the jury's verdict and find him innocent or else order a new trial.

"I am no terrorist," Hassan said repeatedly in court, noting that he had done some "stupid" things as a youth but had grown in the past two years.

He apologized to his family and friends, thanked Allah for support and said he was proud to be a member of a faith that promotes peace and justice.

Flanagan said her court has received many letters from people who wanted to be heard before sentencing in support of one or all of the men. Their convictions have stirred the Muslim community in the Raleigh area where they lived.

Defense attorneys for all three men argued for lesser sentences since they were convicted of discussions of terrorism rather than terrorist acts. The government's case, they said, amounted to prosecuting young Muslims who did little more than watch jihadist videos on computers and trade "stupid" Facebook posts in support of those fighting Americans overseas.

"None of the counts of conviction involve any form of actual, physical or mental harm to any other person," Sherifi's defense attorney Robert McAfee said in a court document filed Tuesday. "It is the discretion given to this court that elevates it, and our criminal justice system as a whole, above tribal vengeance or, frankly, Islamist extremism."

Boyd, a convert to Islam, pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in February and has yet to be sentenced. Two of his sons pleaded guilty to similar charges and were sentenced to eight years and nine years in prison.

Another defendant, Anes Subasic, is set to be tried separately, while an eighth indicted man is at large and believed to be in Pakistan.


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  • michaelclay Jan 16, 2012

    kimmie2969, maybe they should have taken the plea.

  • DavidJonathan Jan 13, 2012

    These guys probably had a sincere belief that they were not as guilty as the others. Some of the charges involve the government's favorite default charge: "material support" or "conspiring to provide material support." It was a gamble for them to go to a full trial. They may have been able to work out a better deal due to their youth...but that is not possible now.

  • country jewel Jan 13, 2012

    They should have gotten no more time than the Boyd brothers got. I'll bet papa Boyd gets less time as than any of these three young men. Not right.

  • ssi Jan 13, 2012


    The Boyds received lesser sentences because their attorneys worked out plea deals with the prosecution. These three took their chances, rolled the dice, and chose to go to trial. When you choose that path, you run the risk of receiving the maximum sentence allowed if you are convicted. This had nothing to do with their nationality or skin color. It has everything to do with the choices they made, both in why they were arrested and in the court room.

  • gnewsome1 Jan 13, 2012

    Who cares about the muslim community, the origin of the murderers who killed over 3000 innocent Americans on 9-11.

  • dws Jan 13, 2012

    Current law is far too lenient on terrorism, and should be rewritten with zero tolerance for support of and/or active involvement in terrorism activities.

  • flashsparks Jan 13, 2012

    "Their convictions have stirred the Muslim community in the Raleigh area where they lived."

    How have the convictions "stirred" the Muslim community? According to this article they don't seem to be denouncing their behavior. This lack of Muslim denunciation fuels mistrust of Muslims in general from non-Muslims in America.

  • Bartmeister Jan 13, 2012

    The race card being played again? Come on man, these guys could have been convicted of a bad haircut before the race card..................

  • ghimmy51 Jan 13, 2012

    I believe there's still room down at Gitmo.

  • ncouterbanks69 Jan 13, 2012

    "Interesting, the caucasions get 8 and 9 years and will blend back into society with no racial profiling and the non caucasions will get double the sentence for the same crimes. Justice? I think not. Just another hate crime done the legal way."

    LOL....goodness will this card ever become invalid. Oh wait it has it is nothing but a useless excuse. It is always the fault of someone else isn't it?