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Trial opens for three North Carolina militancy suspects

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By Ned Barnett

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Jury selection began on Monday in a federal trial of three North Carolina men accused of plotting to assist Islamist militants in foreign countries.

Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi are being tried in federal court in New Bern, North Carolina, on multiple counts of plotting to wage "violent jihad" abroad. A fourth defendant, Anes Subasic, will be tried following the conclusion of the current trial.

Three other defendants in the case, including the plot's ringleader, Daniel Patrick Boyd, and his two sons, Dylan and Zakariya Boyd, have admitted guilt to some charges as part of plea agreements and are awaiting sentencing.

All the men were indicted in July 2009 following an investigation by the FBI's Raleigh-Durham Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The indictment said that Daniel Patrick Boyd, a Muslim convert and drywall contractor from Willow Spring, North Carolina, drew his sons and the other men into a plan to travel abroad to help Islamist militants.

It said that Boyd had traveled between 1989 and 1992 to Pakistan and Afghanistan, "where he received military style training in terrorist training camps for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad."

The indictment adds that from at least November 2006, when the federal investigation began, through July 2009, Boyd conspired with the other defendants "to provide material support and resources to terrorists, including currency, training, transportation and personnel."

Federal prosecutors said the case is based on secretly recorded conversations and reports from an informant.

The elder Boyd had also been indicted on accusations of plotting an attack by the group on the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, but his plea did not include that specific charge.

Following the arrests of the defendants, investigators raided Daniel Patrick Boyd's home and found a cache of weapons and $13,000 in cash.

Seven men were arrested in the case. An eighth man charged, Jude Kenan Mohammad, is thought to be overseas and has not been taken into custody.

(Edited by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Johnston)