LACKAWANNA, N.Y. -- They became known as the Lackawanna 6. It was a case that put the small city on the national map.

"The Lackawanna case 13 years ago was the first known instance of Americans traveling to join al-Qaeda," said U.S. Attorney William Hochul.

A year and two days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, six Yemeni-Americans were arrested in Lackawanna, but their story starts much earlier, before the twin towers fell. Investigators say the men traveled to Afghanistan in spring 2001 to train with al-Qaida.

"When a person travels to join a group, that's also of concern, as was referenced by the earlier questions relating to the Lackawanna 6. That was a day and a group that literally required people to join and train in a program," said Hochul.

All six were charged with conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda between spring 2001 and September 13, 2002, and then actually providing that material support from spring 2001 to Aug. 2, 2001. The essential conduct underlying both charges stems from the men receiving military-type training at the al Qaeda training camp.

One of the men said he was fearful during a one-on-one meeting with Osama bin Laden, who asked him if young men in America were ready to die for the cause.

"Several of those men, four out of the six, in fact, returned home early, but it was the travel combined with what they did while they were there which made that criminal," said Hochul.

Muslim community members in Lackawanna had reported suspicious activities to the FBI, which was one of the elements that factored into the investigation and led up to the arrests.

All six pleaded guilty and served seven to 10 years in prison. 

According to former Homeland Security officer and Director of Medaille College's Homeland Security Program, Steve MacMartin, all of them are now out of prison, and many are back living in Lackawanna.