7 NC men charged with plotting 'violent jihad' By MIKE BAKER, Associated Press Writer Mike Baker, Associated Press Writer 1 hr 10 mins ago RALEIGH, N.C. – A father, his two sons and four other North Carolina men are accused of military-style training at home and plotting "violent jihad" through a series of terror attacks abroad, federal authorities said Monday.
Officials said the group was led by Daniel Patrick Boyd, a married 39-year-old who lived in an unassuming lakeside home in a rural area south of Raleigh, where he and his family walked their dog and operated a drywall business. But two decades ago, Boyd, who is a U.S. citizen, trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan and fought against the Soviets for three years before returning to the United States.
An indictment released Monday does not detail any specific terrorist plans or targets overseas, although it claims some of the defendants traveled to Israel in 2007 with the intent of waging "violent jihad" and returned home without success.
"These charges hammer home the point that terrorists and their supporters are not confined to the remote regions of some far away land but can grow and fester right here at home," U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding said. He would not give details of the alleged plots beyond what was in a news release and indictment.
The seven men made their first court appearances in Raleigh on Monday, charged with providing material support to terrorism. If convicted, they could face life in prison. Court documents charged that Boyd, also known as 'Saifullah,' encouraged others to engage in jihad.
Boyd stopped attending worship services at a moderate mosque in the Raleigh area and instead began meeting for Friday prayers in his home, Holding said.
"These people had broken away because their local mosque did not follow their vision of being a good Muslim," Holding said.
In 1991, Boyd and his brother were convicted of bank robbery in Pakistan — accused of carrying identification showing they belonged to the radical Afghan guerrilla group, Hezb-e-Islami, or Party of Islam. Each was sentenced to have a foot and a hand cut off for the robbery, but the decision was later overturned.
Their wives told The Associated Press in an interview at the time that the couples had U.S. roots but the United States was a country of "kafirs" — Arabic for heathens.
Jim Stephenson, a neighbor of Daniel Boyd in Willow Spring, said he saw the family walking their dog in the neighborhood and that the indictment shocked the residents.
"We never saw anything to give any clues that something like that could be going on in their family," Stephenson said.
Two of the suspects are Boyd's sons: Zakariya Boyd, 20 and Dylan Boyd, 22. The others are Anes Subasic, 33; Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 22; and Ziyad Yaghi, 21. Hysen Sherifi, 24, a native of Kosovo and a U.S. legal permanent was also charged in the case. He was the only person arrested who was not a U.S. citizen.
No attorneys for the men were listed in court records.
Reached at her home in Silver Spring, Md., Boyd's mother said she had not heard of their arrests and knew nothing about the current case.
"It certainly sounds weird to me," Pat Saddler said. "That's news to me."
Hassan's father declined to comment Monday night while others did not have listed numbers or did not return calls.
It's unclear how authorities learned of the activities, although court documents indicate that prosecutors will introduce evidence gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
After the unsuccessful attempt at jihad in Israel, the men returned home, officials said. Court papers also say Yaghi went to Jordan to engage in jihad in 2006.
Boyd was also accused of trying to raise money last year to fund others' travel overseas to fight. One of the men, Sherifi, went to Kosovo to engage in violent jihad, according to the indictment, but it's unclear if he did any actual fighting.
Influential cleric arrested in Pakistan
5:15AM Tuesday Jul 28, 2009
Police arrested an influential pro-Taleban cleric yesterday who had brokered a failed peace deal in Pakistan's troubled Swat Valley, an indication the Government will no longer negotiate with militants.
Authorities accused Sufi Muhammad, the father-in-law of Swat's notorious Taleban leader Maulana Fazlullah, of encouraging violence and terrorism.
The peace deal in February imposed sharia law in the valley. But it was seen as handing control of the area to the Taleban.
The deal collapsed in April when the Taleban advanced south out of Swat, triggering a military offensive.
|Feltman: U.S. Wants Greater Military Cooperation With Libya |
EU supports more anti-terror data sharing with US
By CONSTANT BRAND, Associated Press Writer Constant Brand, Associated Press Writer Mon Jul 27, 11:26 am ET
BRUSSELS – European Union nations on Monday unanimously supported expanding the bloc's anti-terror cooperation with the United States to stop the transfer of funds supporting terror groups.
EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Jacques Barrot said the 27-nation bloc wants to give anti-terror investigators at the U.S. Treasury access to European operation centers run by the bank transfer consortium SWIFT, expanding an existing 2007 anti-terror banking data sharing deal with Washington. To do so, it needs to negotiate under what conditions U.S. officials would have expanded access to such sensitive banking information.
The consortium set up by member banks, is responsible for the collection and relay of more than 14 million financial transactions daily between banks and other financial institutions worldwide. It operates one of the largest financial transfer systems in the world.
U.S. and EU authorities claim that access to the data has helped stop the transfer of money around the globe that funds terror groups and track down wanted terror suspects.
Barrot hopes to reach an initial temporary accord with American authorities giving them access to SWIFT's European data banks, which could serve as the basis for a longer lasting pact in coming months.
The U.S. Treasury already has access to SWIFT's American database, but the banking consortium is setting up a new European office in Switzerland, which would focus on European clients. American investigators now want access to this new database as well.
SWIFT's other two database centers, in the U.S. state of Virginia and in the Netherlands, handle all the consortium's transfer orders, including those of European citizens.
"It would be extremely dangerous at this stage to stop the surveillance and the monitoring of information flows," Barrot said, adding that the current pact, which only covers U.S. operations of SWIFT have been "an important and effective tool to fight terrorism financing and to prevent terrorist attacks."
SWIFT was forced under a court subpoena after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to give the U.S. Treasury access to its American operations under a secret deal, allowing investigators to go through private financial data held by European citizens.
That arrangement was amended in 2007 after the EU, under pressure from European data protection authorities at home, said it violated European privacy laws because it did not give enough guarantees that the data collected on European citizens were properly protected.
Barrot said Monday any new deal will extend data rights and privacy protections once the U.S. gets access to SWIFT's new Swiss operations. The EU's foreign ministers endorsed his plans to negotiate a new agreement on Monday.
However, the existing deal has been met with heavy criticism by privacy groups and EU lawmakers who claim it erodes the rights of Europeans.
SWIFT uses its two hubs to transfer banking transactions. With the new Swiss center, which opens at the end of the year, it will avoid having to store such information in the United States.
U.S. authorities have given the EU assurances the information it collects from
the databases is properly protected and used only in anti-terror probes.
UK: Kabul must reconcile with moderate Taliban
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press Writer
Mon Jul 27, 10:14 am ET
BRUSSELS – The Afghan government must exploit the opportunity presented by the allied military surge to reconcile with moderate Taliban guerrillas willing to take part in the political process, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Monday.
In a wide-ranging speech at NATO headquarters outlining the allied strategy in the war, Miliband also called for greater burden-sharing among nations contributing troops to the war effort.
Miliband said that while hard-line fundamentalist commanders committed to a global jihad must be pursued relentlessly, ordinary rank-and-file Taliban should be given the opportunity "to leave the path of confrontation with the government."
He said Afghanistan's government must develop "a political strategy for dealing with the insurgency through reintegration and reconciliation" and an "effective grass-roots initiatives to offer an alternative to fight or flight to the foot soldiers of the insurgency."
Miliband cited Taliban members who have returned to the fold.
"Former Taliban sit in parliament. And Mullah Salam left the Taliban in late 2007 to become district governor of Musa Qala," said Miliband. "So there is no reason why members of the current insurgency cannot follow — if they are prepared to be part of a peaceful future and accept the Afghan constitution."
Twenty British soldiers have died in Afghanistan in July, igniting a debate in Britain about its role in the war and the quality of its military equipment.
The Conservative opposition has lashed out at Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labor government for allegedly underfunding Britain's 9,000-strong contingent and not providing sufficient helicopters or armored vehicles. The government has dismissed those accusations, saying its forces are properly equipped.
Since the start of the war in 2001, 189 British service personnel have died in the conflict. Last week the head of the armed forces warned that British troops faced more combat and more casualties in coming days.
NATO has nearly 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, about half of them American. The United States maintains a separate command numbering about 10,000 soldiers, and nearly 20,000 more are on their way to the war.
The Afghan security forces, which number about 160,000 members, also are being expanded.
In contrast, Taliban guerrillas are said to number just 10,000 to 15,000 fighters.
Theo Farrell, professor of war studies at King's College, London, said Miliband is urging Afghan President Hamid Karzai to used the reconciliation model with former insurgents that worked for U.S. forces in some areas of Iraq.
But Farrell questioned Karzai's willingness to do that, saying he would probably demand former militants surrender unconditionally to be readmitted to "society" and bar them from his government.
"The major obstacle to any real reconciliation is Karzai himself," the analyst said in a telephone interview.
During this speech, Miliband reiterated a call for greater burden-sharing between the allies, some of whose contingents — including those from Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey — are based in the relatively safe north and west of the country. Their governments have refused to allow the troops to be deployed to the much more dangerous southern and eastern provinces.
"People in Britain ... want to know that all the members of our alliance are ready to give it the priority it deserves," Miliband said. "Burden sharing is a founding principal of NATO, and it needs to be honored in practice as well as in theory."