Local News

Plea deal could mean major turn in Triangle terror case

Posted February 3, 2011 5:13 p.m. EST
Updated February 3, 2011 7:11 p.m. EST

— The Johnston County man accused of plotting terrorism acts with his sons and several others is scheduled to appear in court next week for a plea hearing, and observers say that could indicate a major turn in the case.

Daniel Patrick Boyd, 39, his sons, Dylan Boyd, 23, and Zakariya "Zak" Boyd, 21, and four other men – Hysen Sherifi, 26, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 23, Ziyad Yaghi, 22, and Anes Subasic, 34 – were indicted in July 2009 on charges that they plotted to murder, kidnap, maim and injure people overseas.

Federal authorities said Wednesday that Daniel Boyd would be in federal court in New Bern next Wednesday for an arraignment and plea hearing.

Daniel Boyd's attorneys declined to comment Thursday, but Raleigh attorney Kieran Shanahan, a former federal prosecutor, said such hearings usually indicate a guilty plea will be entered.

Shanahan noted that most federal prosecutions start with minor players and work up to the ringleaders, making a possible plea by Daniel Boyd unusual.

"If somebody is inclined to plea, often times the government will take the first guy who comes through the door, and the first guy in usually gets the best deal," he said.

All of the men charged in the case are practicing Muslims, and the indictment jarred the local Islamic community.

Khalilah Sabra, state executive director of the Muslim American Society, said she hopes area Muslims will accept the plea and "do anything in their power to discourage acts of terrorism."

Sabra called a possible guilty plea by Daniel Boyd "the right thing."

"His backers will say that he is 'falling on the sword,' but most people will understand that his deeds left him with few options," Sabra said.

Shanahan said he doubts that any plea agreement would get Zak and Dylan Boyd off the hook, noting that deals usually compel suspects to tell everything they know about their co-defendants.

"The U.S. government usually doesn't deal with terrorists," he said. "These are serious charges involving terrorism. The government is not going to enter into any plea agreement lightly."

FBI agents seized dozens of guns and more than 27,000 rounds of ammunition from Boyd's home in Willow Spring. An indictment alleges that some of the men were training in military-style tactics and that they were raising money to buy weapons and travel to eastern Europe and the Middle East to engage in a holy war.

Daniel Boyd and Sherifi also are charged with planning an attack on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va.

An eighth suspect, Jude Kenan Mohammad, 21, is believed to be in Pakistan, and a ninth suspect, Bajram Asllani, 29, is in Kosovo.