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Home-grown terrorism suspect testifies about plot to kidnap and kill

September 29, 2011 | 12:55 pm

Daniel Patrick Boyd Daniel Patrick Boyd is the son of a Marine Corps officer. With his sturdy build, blond hair and blue eyes, he could be a model for a U.S. military recruiting poster.

But the U.S. government says Boyd is a home-grown Islamic terrorist. He and six other men were charged in North Carolina in 2009 with conspiring to provide material support for a terrorist plot to kidnap and kill people overseas.

In federal court in New Bern, N.C., on Wednesday, Boyd turned against three alleged co-conspirators and testified for the government in a plea deal.

Boyd said he and the others discussed attacking military bases in North Carolina and Virginia, including kidnapping a general and cutting off his ring finger to send to authorities in exchange for the release of a Muslim prisoner held in New York.

"I spoke recklessly. I went to the extreme and made very poor decisions," Boyd told a federal court, the New Bern Sun Journal reported.

Boyd, 41, a drywall contractor who lived in Johnston County, N.C., went by the name Saifullah, Arabic for Sword of God, according to a federal indictment. Raised as an Episcopalian, he converted to Islam after graduating from high school. His mother's second husband was a Muslim lawyer.

In federal wiretaps played in court last week, Boyd was heard bragging to a paid government informant that he could easily infiltrate the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va.

"My father was an officer," he said on the tapes. "What would they say, their hero's son cutting their heads off?"

In his testimony, Boyd said, "I thought the best thing to do was to defend the Islamic religion," the New Bern paper reported.

Boyd pleaded guilty in February to 11 charges relating to conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism.

Among those indicted in 2009 were Boyd's sons, Dylan Boyd, 24, and Zakariya Boyd, 21, who also converted to Islam. Both men have pleaded guilty and are expected to testify for the government.

Prosecutors said the defendants trained to become mujahedin, or holy warriors, and vowed to die as Muslims martyrs, if necessary.

The July 2009 indictment charged the group with conspiring "to advance violent jihad ... and committing acts of murder, kidnapping or maiming persons."

Prosecutors said the defendants trained in military-style tactics and traveled to the Middle East and Kosovo to lay plans for attacks. FBI agents found nearly two dozen guns and 27,000 rounds of ammunition in Daniel Boyd's home, according to prosecutors. Federal investigators gathered 800 hours of recordings detailing the alleged plot. 

Dylan Boyd is scheduled to be sentenced in December. Under his plea arrangement, he faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Daniel and Zakariya Boyd will be sentenced after the trial in New Bern of co-defendants Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi. All three have pleaded not guilty.


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-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: Daniel Patrick Boyd. Credit: Justice Department