Report: Human rights abuses occurred in Triangle terrorism case
Posted July 21
Updated July 22
Raleigh, N.C. — A Triangle terrorism case was cited as an example of “abusive counterterrorism sting operations” in a study released Monday claiming human rights abuses in such investigations.
The Human Rights Watch report, “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in U.S. Terrorism Prosecutions,” mentioned the “Raleigh 7” as one of 27 federal terrorism cases highlighted in the study.
Daniel Boyd and six others were arrested in 2009 on charges of arranging overseas travel and contacts to help jihadists carry out terrorist acts. About 20 guns and more than 27,000 rounds of ammunition were found in Boyd’s Johnston County home.
Boyd, who authorities said organized the group, pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He and the other six arrested are serving prison time on terrorism charges.
The report focuses on two men in the group - Ziyad Yaghi and Omar Hassan - and a 2007 trip they took to the Middle East. Boyd established himself "as a leader among Muslim youth in Raleigh" and the men wanted to know if they could join him on a trip to the region, according to the report.
But Human Rights Watch claims the men were separated, and Boyd never talked with Yaghi and Hassan while overseas. Yaghi and Hassan were vacationing on a beach in Egypt, using their real names and purchasing roundtrip tickets for the trip, according to the group.
The organization also said a FBI agent acknowledged that the government never found evidence of the men engaging in terrorist activities during the 2007 trip.
A jury convicted both men of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists in 2011. Yaghi was also convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure people, but the jury acquitted Hassan on that charge.
A federal appeals court upheld their convictions.
Republican 13th District Congressman George Holding, the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, said Tuesday in a statement that he's confident that the FBI investigation didn't compromise anyone's rights.
"While I believe the work done by organizations to help protect the rights of citizens is critically important, I am confident in the FBI’s ability to combat terrorism at home and abroad," Holding said. "The Fourth Circuit’s unanimous opinion affirmed, on this occasion, we will not be left to second-guess how a terrorist attack could have been prevented.”