A 22-year-old Lodi man, who federal authorities say admitted spending six months learning how to kill Americans in an al-Qaida-run Pakistani training camp, was denied bail Friday on charges he lied to federal agents about his foreign activities.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter A. Nowinski ordered the slender, bearded Hamid Hayat held without bail as both a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Hayat's attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, reminded the judge that her client was born in Stockton and has significant ties to Lodi. He lives there, she said, with his father, mother, brothers and sisters.
Hayat's father, Umer Hayat, 47, was denied bail earlier this week on charges that he lied about knowingly financing his son's activities.
The son's attorney pointed out that Hamid Hayat was charged Tuesday only with lying to FBI agents, charges for which bail is typically granted, and that he has surrendered his passport.
Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Steven Lapham disputed Mojaddidi's statement that Hamid Hayat has close ties to the community because he has traveled frequently to Pakistan. He said Hayat quit school in this country after the sixth grade and "has little chance of getting a job that would support him."
"And," Lapham added, "we can't forget the huge elephant in the corner," referring to the allegation that Hayat is charged with lying about attending a terrorist-sponsored camp.
Mojaddidi acknowledged that Hamid Hayat has a wife and an extended family in Pakistan, and that the family recently built a new home there.
She said the family traveled to Pakistan on one occasion to seek medical treatment for the mother.
The brief proceeding was moved to a ceremonial courtroom at the federal courthouse to accommodate a crowd of about 100 media representatives and spectators, including members of the Pakistani American community.
Father and son are being held at the Sacramento County jail, segregated from others for their safety, according to Sacramento County sheriff's deputies.
Hamid Hayat was arrested because authorities say he initially lied about activities during a two-year stay in Pakistan. He subsequently told investigators his visit included a six-month stint at a jihadist training camp near Rawalpindi, according to a criminal complaint. Federal authorities questioned him after his plane was diverted en route to the United States on May 29 because his name showed up on a "no-fly" list.
Back in Sacramento, he flunked a voluntary lie detector test, then detailed his involvement at the camp, according to the complaint. His father, who was also questioned, initially denied his son's activities, then told investigators he paid his son's airfare and sent him $100 a month while he was abroad.
Relatives of the father and son have said Umer Hayat then agreed to wear a wire to record meetings with two Muslim religious leaders in Lodi on June 4. Those conversations lead to the arrests of Shabbir Ahmed, 42, and Muhammed Adil Khan, 47, on alleged visa violations. Federal investigators have declined to say what the taped conversations revealed.
They have said repeatedly that no specific targets were identified and that the general public is not in danger.
Khan's son, 19-year-old Mohammad Hassan Adil, has also been arrested on allegations of visa violations.
Khan is being held in the Santa Clara County jail, and a hearing on his charges is set for July 1 in immigration court in San Francisco.
Ahmed and Adil are being held in the Sacramento County jail. An immigration hearing is scheduled for June 24 for Ahmed and June 29 for Adil in San Francisco.
The charges against the Hayats - lying to a federal agent - are the same that snagged domestic diva Martha Stewart and more recently San Joaquin County Sheriff Baxter Dunn, who was convicted of lying about his involvement in a financial scheme. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the maximum penalty is five years, but if the false statements pertain to terrorist activities, the maximum extends to eight years.
Federal investigators are continuing to examine evidence seized from raids on homes of all the men, said a spokesman for the FBI on Friday.
What they find - or don't find - could determine whether any elevated federal charges are filed, such as engaging in military-type training from designated terrorists. The maximum penalty for that would be 10 years.
According to the criminal complaint, Umer Hayat told federal investigators that his son attended a religious school as a teenager, which was operated by the son's grandfather in Rawalpindi. The students were routinely sent to the training camps, and Hamid Hayat was assigned to a camp near Rawalpindi run by a friend of the family's, according to the complaint.
The younger Hayat is the first to reveal to authorities that he enlisted in a terrorist training camp after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, says a terrorist analyst and professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, who wrote "Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Bin Laden."
"If the allegations are true, it's significant," said Peter Bergen, who has traveled extensively to research al-Qaida and appears as a terrorism analyst on CNN.
"Second-generation" students of terrorism - those coming of age after the Sept. 11 attacks - have been somewhat common in Europe. But they haven't surfaced in the United States, he said.
If Hamid Hayat's connections to al-Qaida prove true, they could signal terrorists' ability to recruit Americans with highly prized passports that allow them to travel more freely.
Bergen said he's been "very skeptical" of similar charges the FBI has brought in other cases, some of which have not panned out.
The apparent detailed confessions of Hamid and Umer Hayat set this case apart, he said.
Bergen questioned some of the details provided by the younger Hayat, such as the existence of large-scale terrorist training camps near Rawalpindi, which is also the home for the Pakistani military.
"The notion that there's an al-Qaida camp next door to the Pakistani army just doesn't make sense," he said.
However the allegations pan out, Bergen said he did not believe they are an indication of a widespread terrorist cell.
"No, I don't think this is the tip of the iceberg," he said.
Age 22. Born in San Joaquin County.
Accused in federal criminal complaint of training at al-Qaida camp in Pakistan and then lying to FBI agents about it.
Denied bail Friday, being held in Sacramento County jail.
Age 47. Father of Hamid Hayat.
Charged in complaint with lying about his son's al-Qaida involvement and about his own financing of the terrorist camp.
Denied bail Tuesday, being held in Sacramento County jail.
Muhammed Adil Khan
Imam at the Lodi Muslim Mosque; working to open a religious school in Lodi to teach Muslims.
Being held on immigration violation in the Santa Clara County jail.
Immigration hearing set for July 1 in San Francisco.
Working with Khan to open religious school.
Being held on immigration violation in the Sacramento County jail.
Immigration hearing set for June 24.
Mohammad Hassan Adil
Age 19. Son of Muhammed Adil Khan.
Being held on immigration violation in the Sacramento County jail.
Immigration hearing set for June 29.
About the writer:
- The Bee's M.S. Enkoji can be reached at (916) 321-1106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.