Muhammed Adil Khan - the Pakistani imam portrayed in government documents as the brains behind alleged terrorist activities in Lodi - may not be deported to Pakistan any time soon.
Attorneys for Umer Hayat and his son Hamid, the Lodi men charged with lying about their involvement in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, said late Thursday they are strongly considering filing a motion to keep Adil Khan in the country as a material defense witness.
Johnny Griffin III, attorney for Lodi ice cream vendor Umer Hayat, 47, had previously discounted Adil Khan as a potential witness, saying, "The FBI has painted him as a man with questionable ties and a checkered past."
But Griffin said he changed his mind after receiving a summary of an interview Adil Khan allegedly gave the FBI depicting the Hayats as simpletons seemingly uninterested or incapable of being involved in terrorist camps.
Never miss a local story.
The summary was included in a letter the U.S. attorney's office sent Griffin and fellow defense attorney Wazhma Mojaddidi, alerting them that Adil Khan's departure is "imminent." Signed by federal prosecutor Robert Tice-Raskin, the letter said Adil Khan had made statements about the Hayats should the defense attorneys wish to take steps to keep him in the country.
According to the summary, Adil Khan told the FBI he knew Umer Hayat's father-in-law, Imam Sayyed Rahman, who runs a religious school, or madrassah, in Pakistan. Adil Khan said that after coming to Lodi in 2001, he dined at the Hayats' Lodi home "on a number of occasions," according to the summary.
"At these dinners the Hayats told Khan they had some concerns about Hamid, who was not working, was sleeping all day and spending a lot of time ... playing video games.
"Khan opined that if Hamid had attended a training camp, he would be surprised ... because Hamid was not smart, lacked direction and was lazy," according to the summary.
Adil Khan described Umer Hayat as "crazy, insincere and stupid" and was "surprised that Sayyed Rahman would allow his daughter to marry Umer Hayat," according to the letter.
Griffin said Adil Khan's statements "confirm the Hayats as unsophisticated and naive."
The U.S. attorney's office had no comment on the letter; Adil Khan's lawyer, Saad Ahmad, could not be reached for comment.
According to other federal court documents, Hamid Hayat, 22, admitted during an FBI interrogation last month that he attended a terrorist training camp for six months in 2003-04.
According to the documents, his father admitted financing the trip.
In the documents, the Hayats are said to have identified several other Lodi-area men they claimed also attended terrorist training camps in Pakistan. They said the Lodi-area jihadists would take their direction from another Pakistani imam in Lodi, Shabbir Ahmed, 39, who answered to Adil Khan, according to the documents.
Adil Khan, in turn, allegedly took orders from the operator of the terrorist training camp near Rawalpindi, Fazler Rehman - whose "boss," Umer Hayat said, is Osama bin Laden.
According to the documents, Umer Hayat alleged that another madrassah, the Jamia Farooqia School run by Adil Khan's father in Karachi, "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."
The Hayats since have renounced their alleged confession.
Ahmad, the attorney for the two Lodi imams, has denied his clients are involved in terrorism and said the Hayats' credibility is "zero because they themselves have lied."
Griffin said the Hayats broke down under relentless questioning: "My guys got to a point where after more than 16 hours of being interviewed by the FBI, after denying things, they began to say OK, OK, OK, to acquiesce to what the FBI was saying."
According to the U.S. attorney's letter, Adil Khan told the FBI the allegations the Hayats made "were crazy" and that Umer Hayat made the statements "because he wants to be more in his life than he is."
Adil Khan said he counseled Hamid to return to Pakistan and attend his grandfather's madrassah, but Hamid intially refused to go, according to the summary.
Adil Khan "stated it was his opinion that Hamid was not the type of person to go to a camp ... (and) denied knowledge that Hamid went to a terrorist training camp," according to the summary.
Adil Khan added that Umer Hayat "was not a religious man."
The federal government has been holding Adil Khan on immigration violations and has not charged him with any terrorist acts. Last week, he agreed to be deported rather than fight charges that he had overstayed his religious visa.
Thursday night, Griffin faxed a letter to the government seeking copies of the videotaped interviews with Adil Khan and said he wanted to see the full interviews before fighting to keep Adil Khan here.
Shabbir Ahmed, who was also charged with immigration violations, is fighting deportation. His immigration hearing is set for Aug. 9.
About the writer:
- The Bee's Stephen Magagnini can be reached at (916) 321-1072 or email@example.com.