U.S. federal authorities have charged seven men in the southeastern state of North Carolina with plotting to carry out terror attacks abroad.

A father, 39-year-old Daniel Boyd, and his two sons, ages 20 and 22, are among the defendants.  All are charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad.

The Justice Department said Boyd traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan between 1989 and 1992 for military-style training in terrorist camps, and following the training, allegedly fought in Afghanistan.

It said Boyd traveled to Gaza in March 2006 and attempted to introduce his son to individuals who believed that "violent jihad was a personal religious obligation."  The Justice Department said Boyd and several other defendants left the United States for Israel in 2007 to engage in "violent jihad," but their efforts failed and they eventually returned.    

Boyd and several other defendants face weapons charges.  Authorities allege Boyd and others practiced "military tactics" and using weapons in North Carolina.

If convicted, the seven face life in prison.

The Justice Department said five of the suspects are U.S. citizens, one is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and one is a native of Kosovo who is a U.S. legal permanent resident.

The group made initial court appearances in Raleigh, North Carolina, Monday.  They are expected to return to court on Thursday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.