The terror arrests outside Raleigh, N.C., are big for a few reasons.
1. This was a homegrown cell based in rural America.
2. It was led by a white convert to Islam named Daniel Patrick Boyd.
3. The cell had plotted against Israel, which means they could very well have targeted Jewish sites on U.S. soil as well.
We still don't have all the details on that front. But a common thread in many recent terror arrests on U.S. soil is a desire among the suspects to hit Jewish targets, either here or abroad.
This North Carolina cell was based in a rural area outside Raleigh. Rural America is the perfect place for jihadis to lay low and train. In fact, I have been following the "jihad in rural America" angle for some time: it is real and troubling.
I've reported from the backwoods compound of a radical group called Muslims of America; from sleepy Shelbyville, Tenn, where hundreds of Somali Muslims have flocked; in recent years; from rural Virginia, again, where a terror cell trained for jihad by playing paintball; and from Tulsa, Okla., where a moderate Muslim man was threatened for speaking out against jihad. And let's not forget the attempt to establish a terror training camp in the backwoods of Bly, Oregon.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this North Carolina jihad cell is that it was apparently made up of mostly white converts to Islam.
Indeed, Daniel Patrick Boyd looked like your typical good 'ol boy. He ran a drywall business with his family. Neighbors frequently observed him walking his dog (and here I thought that dogs were haram among jihadis) and so far have portayed him as a pretty unassuming guy.
Frankly, Boyd had the perfect cover. Let's face it: a predominantly white, Christian rural area outside of Raleigh, N.C. is the last place you would suspect an Islamic terror cell to set up shop. And you probably wouldn't look twice at lily white Daniel Boyd if he were walking through airport security. These are all reasons why Al Qaeda continues to make strong efforts to recruit white Westerners into their fold, as I reported in December.
A last interesting tidbit about Boyd: he was a veteran of terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan who fought against the Soviet Union during the 1980s. So this cell was not led by an amateur.