NEW BERN, N.C. — Two brothers who watched as their father transformed their rural North Carolina family home into a base camp to launch violent jihad will spend years in prison, even after cooperating with federal prosecutors.
Zakariya Boyd, 22, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison on Tuesday and Dylan Boyd, 25, was sentenced to eight years. Each had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, which carried a maximum of 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine. Both received lesser sentences after cooperating with prosecutors, including credit for the jail time already served since their arrests in July 2009.
Both men apologized to their American countrymen for failing to break free of their domineering father and his radical Muslim views, as their mother and siblings sobbed along with Dylan's wife and the family of the girl Zak wanted to marry.
"I apologize to the nation for failing to preserve the national security," Dylan Boyd said as he read from prepared notes before being sentenced.
Zak Boyd, sounding like the Eagle Scout he is, told U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan the shame he endures for failing to break away from the group's terror plots would motivate him to "reclaim the mantle of truth and justice."
According to prosecutors, the brothers were part of a group of eight men who raised money, stockpiled weapons and trained for jihadist attacks against American military targets and others they considered enemies of Islam. All of the accused were either American-born or naturalized U.S. citizens, or legal permanent residents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bowler praised the brothers for their cooperation and admirable behavior since their arrest removed them from the orbit of their domineering father, Daniel Patrick Boyd, who isolated his sons and subjected them to physical and psychological pressure to abide by his extremist views.
Prosecutors have said Daniel Boyd brewed an atmosphere of intense militancy in the family and among the other defendants. Daniel Boyd's diatribes against the United States grew along with the collection of rifles, pistols and ammunition amassed at the Boyds' home in rural Johnston County, near Raleigh, prosecutors said.
Zak was in many ways an "exemplary" young man who showed kindness in small ways to many he met, Bowler said. Dylan resisted his father's fury for as long as he could, moving away to college and pursuing a career in health care. Both worked at part-time jobs while studying to help support their family.
"This is an agonizing case with respect to sentencing, between the distilled evil (of their father) and the circumstances of these boys having this shoved down their throats," Bowler said. "The term brainwashing comes to mind."
But the brothers were not innocent, Bowler said. The terror ring the FBI began investigating in 2005 plotted attacks abroad, but Zak and Dylan Boyd must have known that the growing firepower would never have been used except within the United States, Bowler said.
Daniel Boyd, a teenage convert to Islam and drywall contractor who once moved his family to Pakistan, pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons in a foreign country.
Flanagan said the sentences aimed to send a message about the penalties for those involved in terrorist plots, balanced against evidence that Daniel Boyd's vitriol against the United States had twisted his sons.
"The depravity of your father is etched in the record," Flanagan said. "The oppression that you endured during your upbringing left you quite scarred."
Flanagan did not explain why she gave Dylan a lesser sentence than his brother, but the judge said she was cutting Dylan's fine to $1,000 in recognition that he had a son born since his arrest.
Carol Hewitt's daughter Jordan dated Zak Boyd and the two wanted to marry. Zak came to the Hewitt home in one 2007 bid to run away from his father, but Daniel Boyd wrestled his son into a car. Still, the young couple wanted to marry and Carol Hewitt said she was negotiating with Zak's father to let that happen.
"We love him, we really do," she said after the sentencing. "We hope the court sees it's reversible – that without his father's influence he will be able to persevere."
Dylan Boyd testified in October against three co-defendants who were later convicted in a trial that focused on alleged plots to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., as well as foreign targets. Daniel Boyd, whose father was a Marine officer, had lived on the base as a child.
A trial is pending for a seventh defendant, Bosnian immigrant Anes Subasic. The Boyd brothers are expected to testify at Subasic's trial, expected for the first half of next year. Flanagan said she might revisit their sentences, depending on their contributions to the prosecution.
An eighth man indicted in the North Carolina terror plot is at large and believed to be in Pakistan.
Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio