New Details About Alleged N.C. Terror Cell Leader

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CBN News has uncovered new details about the ringleader of an accused Islamic terrorist cell in North Carolina.

Daniel Boyd was described by neighbors in his rural subdivision outside Raleigh as a pillar of the community.

"I spoke with him on several occasions," said local resident Robert Roegner. "And never was there any indication that he was involved in something or could have the capacity to be involved in something like that."

But several sources in the Raleigh area painted a much different picture for CBN News of Boyd, the man federal authorities say was training for armed jihad.

A local Muslim who knew Boyd told us it is "hard to argue with anything in the indictment" against Boyd and seven other men-one of whom is still at large.

The rolling countryside of Willow Spring, North Carolina, where Boyd lived, seems an unlikely place for the alleged leader of an Islamic terror cell to set up shop. But federal authorities say that Boyd used his unassuming house in a rural subdivision to stockpile a massive amount of weapons used in terrorist training.

According to the indictment, Boyd reportedly said that if he couldn't carry out jihad overseas, he would do it "right here" in America.

A Muslim source in Raleigh told CBN News that Boyd railed against American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He also regularly blasted Israel, where authorities allege he traveled and attempted to link up with Palestinian terrorists.

The Muslim source says Boyd talked "openly" and frequently among fellow Muslims about the need to wage violent jihad.

According to this source, Boyd is a "charismatic figure" who attracted young Muslims with tales of his fighting days in Afghanistan in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

During that time. Boyd and his brother were convicted and sentenced for bank robbery in neighboring Pakistan. They were later released thanks to pressure from the U.S. State Department.

CBN News has learned that Boyd's criminal activity in Pakistan may not have been an isolated incident.

Boyd used to own a Muslim grocery store in a strip mall outside Raleigh. He sold it last fall after being open for less than a year.

But the new property owner tells CBN that just a week before his arrest on terrorism charges, Boyd entered the shop illegally and stole several storage shelves.

An eyewitness corroborated this account for CBN News.

Some of this erratic behavior sounds familiar to Boyd's former boss, Larry Schug. Boyd hung drywall for Schug, who says the alleged terrorist was a difficult personality.

"if I can't get a hold of you, that's a problem--it becomes a problem for me," said Schug.

Schug's messages for Boyd would often go unanswered. Boyd would claim that he left his phone in his truck.

"In jihad, basically, you can lie to me and it's okay" said Schug. "Because you're lying to a nonbeliever."

Neighbors in Boyd's rural subdivision continue to support him. One said his family formed "the biggest welcoming committee in the neighborhood" when others moved in. Another described him as "an advice giver" to young people.

"It's entirely possible that someone could be committed to jihad while being nice to their neighbors," observed terrorism expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

In the meantime, Muslim leaders in Raleigh are taking a wait-and-see attitude about the Boyd case.

"The Muslim community will be looking for answers to be able to understand what exactly happened there," said Khalilah Sabra of the Muslim American Society.

If convicted, Boyd and the other six alleged jihadis--including his two sons--could face life in prison.

*Originally published August 25, 2009 

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.