National News

Brother defends accused terror head

Posted July 30, 2009 5:48 p.m. EDT
Updated July 31, 2009 2:53 p.m. EDT

— Accusations that a Johnston County man recruited and trained would-be terrorists to wage violent jihad are "preposterous," his older brother said Friday, portraying the charges as an attempt to link Islam to terrorism.

Robert Boyd spoke to The Associated Press and WRAL News from his home in Minnesota and called the situation Daniel Boyd faces "ludicrous." He described his younger brother as an "upstanding young man."

Authorities say Daniel Boyd, 39, bought guns and led a group of men who were planning to kidnap, kill and maim people abroad. The indictment, which names six others including two of Boyd's sons, said some of the defendants took trips to Jordan, Israel and Pakistan.

Federal authorities are looking for an eighth man tied to the group, who is believed to be in Pakistan. A WRAL News source has identified the man as Jude Kenan Mohammad, 20, of Wake County.

Robert Boyd, 49, said he finds the charges against his younger brother "hard for me to even fathom."

"I really don't appreciate his fine name being slandered like that because he's none of what they claim he is," Boyd told WRAL News in a telephone interview.

"He's the finest example of a man that I know," he said. "He's give you anything, help you any way he could – anybody, anywhere, any time."

Robert Boyd's comments echoed those of residents in the Willow Spring community where Daniel Boyd lives with his family. They remembered the drywall contractor as a friendly neighbor who talked about vegetable gardens and fishing. Many expressed shock and doubt about the detailed indictment that accused Boyd of having international terrorist aspirations.

Prosecutors say Boyd stopped attending the services of the more moderate mosques in the Raleigh area and began holding Friday prayers in his home. The indictment says he began stockpiling weapons and conducted military-style training at a rural site in Caswell County, near the Virginia state line.

Boyd traveled to Pakistan two decades ago with his family and brother Charles, where prosecutors say they trained in guerrilla camps and fought the Soviet Union.

Debra Cline, 51, was Charles' wife at the time. She recalled that the brothers would rotate stints in the field, leaving for a week or two at a time to go to Afghanistan or to training. But they never talked about the endeavor.

"The women were pretty much left in the dark," Cline told The Associated Press from her home in Florida. "We were not given much information."

Charles Boyd and Cline met a decade before their time in the Middle East. Charles and Robert Boyd came to Florida with just $14, hoping to make some extra money before going to Pakistan. They were inspired by a video shown at a Washington-area mosque that depicted the Soviets killing Muslim women and children, Cline said.

"That was their main concern," she said. "That's what got them wanting to go over there."

They did not go for several years, but Daniel and Charles Boyd eventually made the trip.

In 1991, Daniel Boyd and his brother Charles were convicted of robbing a bank in Pakistan, where they and their wives were living. A sentence that included amputations of a hand and foot was overturned.

Cline said she didn't want to make the trip to Pakistan but went at her husband's behest. After the brothers were arrested, she wanted to leave and went to the U.S. embassy to make it happen. Cline said that led Daniel and Sabrina Boyd to shun her, and Cline didn't speak to them again after leaving Pakistan.

Her husband wasn't nearly as upset.

"He wasn't as passionate as Daniel," she said. Cline split from Charles Boyd soon after leaving Pakistan and is no longer Muslim.

Both she and Robert Boyd said they didn't know of Charles Boyd's whereabouts.

Cline said she was shocked by the charges, describing Daniel Boyd as "mellow and laid-back."

Robert Boyd, who is Muslim, said he first learned of the charges against his brother while watching television. He also said his brothers didn't discuss what they did in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"They talked about how beautiful it was over there," Robert Boyd said. "They loved it over there."

"As far as I was concerned, he was with the mujahedeen trying to kick ass on the Russians and get them out of Afghanistan, which was backed by the United States," Robert Boyd said.

He said he hasn't talked with Daniel Boyd since his 16-year-old nephew died in a car accident two years ago. He said he hasn't seen two other nephews who also have been charged as terrorists, 22-year-old Dylan Boyd and 20-year-old Zakariyah Boyd, since they were about 9 or 10 years old.

"I would really love to see my brother in person so I could look him in the eye and ask him man to man what's up," he told WRAL News.