Terror trial likely not to start before late 2010
Posted August 26, 2009 10:33 p.m. EDT
Updated August 27, 2009 6:22 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The complexity of the case against eight men charged with plotting terrorist acts overseas could delay the start of any trials in the case until at least next fall, officials said Thursday.
Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys met with U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan Thursday to hash out how information the government deems classified for national security would be handled in the case.
Daniel Patrick Boyd, 39, and his sons, Dylan Boyd, 22, and Zakariya "Zak" Boyd, 20, and four other men – Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 22, Hysen Sherifi, 24, Ziyad Yaghi, 21, and Anes Subasic, 33 – have been indicted on charges that they plotted to murder, kidnap, maim and injure people overseas. They are being held without bond at a prison in Virginia.
An eighth suspect, Jude Kenan Mohammad, 20, is believed to be in Pakistan.
Authorities claim the group was preparing to wage "violent jihad" but haven't detailed any specific targets or time frame. Prosecutors cited trips members of the group made overseas in recent years, weapons purchases, fundraising efforts and military-style training conducted in the woods of Caswell County.
Prosecutors already have turned over 2,400 pages of evidence and 60 tape recordings, some of which are more than an hour long, to defense attorneys. But defense attorneys said they cannot begin to prepare for trial until they can see what classified information the government plans to use against their clients.
Flanagan gave prosecutors until Dec. 17 to declassify the documents they intended to use as evidence so defense attorneys could review them. She said she would hold a February hearing to begin scheduling motions, meaning any trial likely wouldn't be scheduled before the fall of next year.
"I think both sides are fairly pleased that the judge has recognized this is a very complex case. It has unique logistics requirements," said attorney Doug McCullough, who represents Yaghi.
Prosecutors said the declassified information would still be considered "sensitive," and rules would need to be set up to restrict access to it.
All attorneys in the case have already undergone FBI background checks, but defense attorneys said such rules might make it harder for them to have outside witnesses, including any expert witnesses, to address the information contained in the documents.
"What we're working toward (is) trying to get all the parties to agree how to go through the protocol," said attorney Dan Boyce, who represents Hassan. "The process is under way. It's going to be a long haul, but hopefully justice will be served at the end of the day."
Boyce said the unclassified evidence against Hassan is scant, noting prosecutors have only noted he went to Israel in 2007. There are no recordings of conversations between Hassan and Daniel Boyd, the alleged ringleader, or large sums of money that are directly attributable to Hassan, and Hassan doesn't have any weapons training, Boyce said.
Hassan, a Cary High School graduate and former North Carolina State University student, isn't a flight risk or a danger to the community, said Boyce, who has filed a motion to have him released on house arrest.
Dylan Boyd's attorney also has filed a motion that he be released on house arrest, noting his wife is close to delivering their first child.