NEW BERN - A federal jury convicted three North Carolina men Thursday in a trial that focused on a plot to carry out terrorist attacks on the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., and foreign targets.
The jury in the month-long trial delivered its verdict against Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi after deliberating since Wednesday. Yaghi and Sherifi were convicted on all counts. Hassan was found not guilty of conspiracy to carry out attacks overseas but convicted of providing material support to terrorists.
Hassan, Yaghi and Sherifi were part of a group of eight men who federal investigators say raised money, stockpiled weapons and trained in preparation for jihadist attacks against American military targets and others they deemed enemies of Islam.
Three other men pleaded guilty in the case earlier this year, including Daniel Boyd, a convert to Islam whom prosecutors described as the ringleader. Boyd's two sons also pleaded guilty.
Another man, Anes Subasic, is scheduled to go on trial separately in the case. The eighth suspect is still at large and believed to be living in Pakistan.
Prosecutors claimed during the trial that Hassan and Yaghi attempted to travel to Israel in 2007 to meet up with Boyd and his sons to carry out an attack. During the closing argument, jurors were shown a large cache of rifles, pistols and ammunition amassed by Boyd at his rural home near Raleigh.
Defense lawyers said none of the hundreds of audio recordings and video surveillance collected by the FBI ever captured Boyd or his alleged co-conspirators discussing specific plans for an attack with the defendants now on trial.
The men's lawyers said the government's case amounted to prosecuting young Muslims who did little more than watch jihadist videos on computers and trade "stupid" Facebook posts in support of those fighting Americans overseas.
The 2009 arrests of the men provoked anger and fear among some Raleigh-area Muslims, who worried their community was subject to aggressive scrutiny by federal law enforcement. Some members of a Raleigh mosque regularly made the five-hour round trip to New Bern to offer moral support to the three defendants on trial.