During a hearing on whether the seven men will be held until trial, officials played recordings of Daniel Boyd talking to his family and to a witness about what authorities called plans to carry out attacks overseas.
"I love jihad. I love to stand there and fight for the sake of Allah," a voice identified as Boyd said on a recording made in June at Boyd's home. "Muslims must be protected at all costs."
FBI Special Agent Michael Sutton said Boyd wanted the men, including two of his sons, to engage in violent jihad, train on firearms and travel overseas. Sutton said Boyd repeatedly spoke of armor-piercing ammunition and a year ago told a witness about his dislike of the U.S. military being in some Middle Eastern lands.
"They're over there killing our brothers," Sutton quoted Boyd as saying.
The seven men were arrested and charged last week with plotting attacks in a foreign country. An eighth is being sought. Officials have not named their alleged targets.
The indictment named 39-year-old Boyd as the suspected ringleader, saying he bought guns, and Boyd's two sons 20-year-old Zakariya and 22-year-old Dylan. It said some of the men took trips over the past three years to Jordan, Kosovo, Pakistan and Israel "to engage in violent jihad."
Supporters and members of the suspects' families packed the courtroom Tuesday. The handcuffed men nodded and waved to the crowd.
People who couldn't get seats waited outside. Some said they believed the men were innocent or being unfairly targeted.
"Maybe there's some bad Muslims in there, but just because you have a head scarf and faith in your heart doesn't mean we're aliens," said 37-year-old Shagufta Syad, one of Boyd's supporters. "I just want justice to be served. I'm here concerned as a Muslim, as an American, I need to know what's going on."
Boyd's wife has said her husband and two sons were not involved in any terrorist activity, and neighbors and friends were shocked last week to learn of the accusations.
Sutton, the FBI agent, said Boyd told authorities that during his time in Pakistan and Afghanistan two decades ago he battled Russians for 23 days when Soviet troops attacked a training camp he was attending.
Sutton said some of the men recently had scheduled trips, and that Zak Boyd said at some point that he planned to travel to the Bosnia area in search of a place for the family to relocate.
"I think that all of them are a risk to flight," Sutton said.
An attorney for one of the suspects, Hysen Sherifi, said his client planned to travel to Kosovo because that's where his wife lives.
Federal officials said they seized from Boyd's home and cars more than 27,400 rounds of ammunition, 26 weapons, gas masks and a handbook on how authorities respond to acts of terrorism. Sutton said there was a trench dug under the Boyd's deck that a witness described as a place to hide weapons.
Authorities are still looking for an eighth suspect, 20-year-old Jude Kenan Mohammad of Raleigh.
Mohammad was detained in Pakistan in October after he was accused of trying to enter a militant stronghold near the Afghan border that is off-limits to foreigners. Kenan's family said he was in the country to visit his Pakistani father.
Ejaz Khan, a police official in the region that had jurisdiction in the case, said Mohammad was taken into custody and booked on charges of weapons possession for allegedly carrying a dagger, and traveling without proper documents.
He was granted bail later that month, Khan said.