The FBI is investigating the possibility that six other Lodi-area men attended terrorist training camps in Pakistan in addition to Hamid Hayat, the initial suspect arrested in the government's ongoing probe of al-Qaida connections in the San Joaquin city.
According to federal court documents obtained by The Bee, Hamid Hayat and his father, Umer, claimed the suspected Lodi jihadists reported to Muhammed Adil Khan and Shabbir Ahmed, two imams they say came to the Lodi Muslim Mosque from Pakistan to groom students for terrorist training camps.
Khan and Ahmed are being held for allegedly violating immigration laws, and through their attorney have denied being involved in terrorist activities.
Ice cream vendor Umer Hayat, 47, and his son Hamid, 22, have been charged with lying about their involvement in an al-Qaida training camp near Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Though neither has been charged with terrorism, the government claims Hamid Hayat - with financial help from his father - attended the camp for six months in 2003-04. The Hayats first denied, then admitted, and now deny the charges, according to prosecutors. The Pakistani government has steadfastly denied there are terrorist training camps in Pakistan.
The documents lay out interviews with the Hayats that allegedly detail the younger Hayat's transformation into a jihadist - a warrior against the enemies of Islam.
The attorneys for the Hayats, Johnny L. Griffin and Wazhma Mojaddadi, have dismissed much of the evidence against their clients as "fluff," but said Thursday a federal judge has prohibited them from discussing the documents.
In the documents, the Hayats are said to have outlined the following chain of command:
The alleged Lodi-area jihadists "would take their direction" from Shabbir Ahmed, who answered to his former madrassah (religious school) teacher in Pakistan, Adil Khan. Khan, in turn, took orders from the operator of the terrorist training camp near Rawalpindi, Fazler Rehman - whose "boss" is Osama bin Laden.
Saad Ahmad, the attorney for Shabbir Ahmed and Adil Khan, has described his clients as men of peace who are not associated with Rehman, bin Laden or any other anti-American terrorists.
Before coming to Lodi, Adil Khan was a teacher and administrator at the Jamia Farooqia School, a madrassah with 4,000 students in Karachi founded by his father, Salimullah Khan.
Bin Laden, in a 1998 news conference, counted the scholars of the Farooqia school among his supporters, according to the documents.
The documents say Umer Hayat alleged "that Jamia Farooqia prepared its students for jihadist training camps" and that "Adil Khan's purpose in America is to develop a U.S.-based madrassah which would serve the same purpose as the madrassahs in Pakistan."
According to the documents, Adil Khan first came to America in the 1980s to raise money for his father's Jamia Farooqia school. The highly educated, urbane Khan soon became a welcome speaker at mosques across the country, including the one in Lodi.
In the late 1990s, Adil Khan acted to create his own school in America, and set up the nonprofit Jamia Farooqia Islamic Center. He told supporters the school would be open to boys and girls, Muslims and non-Muslims.
When he learned the Lodi mosque had bought 7 acres to establish its own school and Islamic center, he formed a collaboration.
In the spring of 2001, Adil Khan moved to Lodi to serve as imam. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he reached out to Christians and Jews, signing a joint declaration of peace.
In early 2002, he recruited a former student from Pakistan, Shabbir Ahmed, to take over as imam while Adil Khan concentrated on developing the Lodi school.
Ahmed, 39, has admitted that, while he was an imam in Islamabad, he gave several fiery anti-American speeches after Sept. 11 in protest of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. But, at his June 24 immigration hearing, he denied urging people to kill Americans.
"Having come here I see human value and respect for human life - even animals are taken care of here," he told the immigration judge.
The documents claim Hamid Hayat "advised he would get his Jihadi mission orders from Shabbir Ahmed, who would get the initial order from Muhammed Adil Khan." Hayat refused to say how he knew this, or what such a "mission" might entail.
During his own interrogation, Hayat's father identified several additional members of the Lodi mosque trained in jihadi camps who "take direction from Shabbir Ahmed" and who were taught to target financial institutions and government buildings in the U.S., according to the documents.
The documents claim Hamid Hayat initially denied any connection to jihadis, and on June 4 volunteered to take a polygraph test. "His answers to relevant questions were found to be indicative of deception," according to the documents.
After about two more hours of questioning, Hamid Hayat admitted he attended a training camp in Pakistan run by al-Qaida for approximately six months in 2003-04, according to the documents.
Hamid Hayat said the camp provided training in weapons, explosives and hand-to-hand combat and added that photographs of President Bush and other high-ranking U.S. officials were used for target practice, according to the documents.
Hamid Hayat said the camp trained hundreds of people who were allowed to choose where to carry out "their jihadi mission. ... Hamid advised that he specifically requested to come to the United States."
His father, Umer Hayat, at first claimed there were no such training camps in Pakistan, but after seeing his son's videotaped confession, admitted he paid for his son's flight to Pakistan to attend the camp and gave him a $100-a-month allowance, according to the documents.
Hamid Hayat was born in the United States and at age 9 moved to Pakistan for about nine years before returning to Lodi, relatives said.
According to the documents, his father said Hamid first became interested in attending a jihadi training camp as a young teen after being influenced by a classmate at a madrassah in Rawalpindi and an uncle who fought with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation.
The madrassah Hamid allegedly attended is operated by Umer Hayat's father-in-law, who Umer Hayat said is a close personal friend of Rehman. Rehman ran the al-Qaida training camp Hamid eventually attended, according to the documents.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Umer Hayat's father-in-law, Qari Saeed-ur Rehman, leader of the Jamia Islamia madrassah in Rawalpindi, said his grandson Hamid "never received religious education at my madrassah. There is no terrorist camp here ... all allegations leveled against (the Hayats) by the FBI are a pack of lies."
But according to the documents, Umer Hayat said that thanks to his family connections, he was assigned a driver and invited to visit several training camps that taught everything from urban warfare to classroom instruction.
The Hayats' trial is scheduled for Aug. 23, but federal prosecutors Wednesday filed a motion seeking to have it postponed while they canvass 40 government agencies for any information on the Hayats.
Prosecutors said they need more time to go through the Hayats' computer, cell phone and 2,000 pages of documents seized in a search of their Lodi home.
In the motion, prosecutors said a scrap of paper found in Hamid Hayat's wallet at the time of his arrest said, in Arabic, "Lord let us be at their throats, and we ask you to give refuge from their evil."
Hamid Hayat's attorney, Mojaddadi, said her interpretation is that the note is "a prayer you say when you're afraid for your safety, and just carrying it with you is supposed to make you feel protected."
She said the note "has absolutely nothing to do with the United States."
Mojaddadi and Umer Hayat's attorney, Griffin, said they had reviewed the documents seized from the Hayats' home and dismissed them as "fluff."
The seizures so far have not produced additional charges against the Hayats, and federal officials have not characterized them - or the imams - as part of an al-Qaida sleeper cell.
But federal officials indicate they are investigating possible violations of Patriot Act provisions that make it a crime to give "material support" to foreign terrorist organizations. Under these statutes, such support includes money, weapons, lodging or training.
The statutes outlawing material support were key to the prosecution and convictions of six young men from Lackawanna, N.Y., who admitted attending al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan in April 2001. While there, they said, they received weapons training and met bin Laden.
In early 2003, all six pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison.
Officials close to the Lodi investigation say that they are building a similar case but are not yet ready to file charges on the material support grounds.
They indicated it could take months before the CIA and other intelligence agencies provide evidence that could be used to make material support charges stick - if those agencies have such evidence.
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- The Bee's Stephen Magagnini can be reached at (916) 321-1072 or email@example.com.