U.S. terror suspects spoke of "jihad": FBI wiretaps

RALEIGH, North Carolina Tue Aug 4, 2009 10:44pm BST

1 of 3. The mother of Ziyad Yaghi (2nd L) is consoled as she leaves the Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina during a lunchtime recess from a detention hearing for seven alleged terrorist suspects August 4, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Ellen Ozier

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors played FBI recordings in court on Tuesday as evidence that seven North Carolina terrorism suspects discussed waging "jihad," which can mean "holy war," as part of a conspiracy to conduct attacks overseas.

Prosecutors at the detention hearing in Raleigh used the recordings to argue that Daniel Patrick Boyd, his two sons and four other men, who are all accused of conspiring to carry out terrorism attacks abroad, should remain in custody. An eighth suspect in the case is not in the United States.

U.S. Magistrate William Webb recessed the hearing until Wednesday, when he was due to rule on whether the suspects should remain detained.

The seven accused, who appeared in orange prison jumpsuits, were arrested last month on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad. Boyd and others also face weapons charges.

"They are all at risk of flight. They have associates and ties overseas," FBI agent Michael Sutton said.

The seven face up to life in prison if convicted. Family members and supporters have insisted they are innocent. U.S. officials believe the eighth suspect is in Pakistan.

The Raleigh detention hearing followed a warning from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last week of the increased "radicalization" of Americans in recent months. Seven of the eight accused are U.S. citizens.

The United States has been on heightened security alert since the September 11 attacks in 2001, when al Qaeda militants using hijacked jetliners killed 2,749 people.

'I LOVE JIHAD'

On the scratchy FBI wiretaps played in court, prosecutors said Boyd, who they say trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992, could be heard proposing and discussing "engaging in violent jihad."

"Allah knows I love jihad," says a voice on one of the tapes that prosecutors was that of Boyd.

Jihad is an Arabic word that means simply "struggle" and often has a spiritual meaning, but in Western countries is taken to mean "holy war."

Sutton also told the court the accused had engaged in "military training" with weapons in North Carolina.

The indictment alleges Boyd and others traveled to Gaza, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan and Kosovo to plan or engage in attacks. Asked by prosecutors about the intended targets, Sutton said they were to be "non-Muslims and nonbelievers".

The FBI agent said Boyd told officials after his arrest that he went to Afghanistan in the late 1980s "to fight against the Soviets" after receiving training first at a camp in Connecticut, and then at camps in Afghanistan. The Soviet army withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 after a 10-year presence.

Rifles and pistols capable of piercing body armor and money in sums totaling thousands of dollars were found at Boyd's house, prosecutors said.

Those indicted beside Boyd were Hysen Sherifi, Anes Subasic, Zakariya Boyd, Dylan Boyd, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Jude Kenan Mohammad. Mohammad is the eighth absent suspect in the case.

All are U.S. citizens, except Sherifi, a native of Kosovo, who is a legal permanent resident of the United States.

(Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Peter Cooney)