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Fifth Lodi man detained in al-Qaida investigation

An investigation into what federal officials are calling an al-Qaida terrorist cell that has netted a father and son and two Muslim religious leaders widened Wednesday with the detention of a fifth member of Lodi's Pakistani community.

An official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that Mohammad Hassan Adil, 19, was detained Wednesday for immigration violations. He is the son of Muhammed Adil Khan, who recently was taken into custody, also for immigration violations.

"He's being held on administrative immigration violations," Virginia Kice, an immigration spokeswoman, said of the son. She declined to elaborate.

U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Wednesday that the investigation has not uncovered any specific threat of danger to the public. He declined to say whether more arrests would follow.

"This is an ongoing process that will continue for some time," Scott said at an afternoon press conference in Sacramento.

Scott said the next few days could be crucial as federal and state investigators examine evidence seized during FBI raids Tuesday at a Lodi mosque and at the homes of 47-year-old Umer Hayat, a Lodi ice cream truck driver, and his son, 22-year-old Hamid Hayat, also of Lodi. Both are U.S. citizens.

Umer Hayat was arrested for allegedly lying to federal agents, while Hamid Hayat was arrested for allegedly lying to FBI agents about training in an al-Qaida camp in Pakistan. The younger Hayat was taken into custody last Friday and a bail hearing is set for this Friday. Both are held in Sacramento County jail.

Agents also searched the home of Muhammed Adil Khan, imam at the Lodi Muslim Mosque, and the home of Shabbir Ahmed, another imam who was working with Khan to open a religious school.

Khan and his son, as well as Ahmed, are not U.S. citizens and were taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for alleged immigration violations. The two older men are Pakistani citizens.

Hamid Hayat told federal agents he attended a jihadist training camp run by al-Qaida in Pakistan for six months ending in 2004, where he went through weapons and explosives training and was schooled in ideological anti-American rhetoric, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The training - designed to "kill Americans" - included target practice using images of high-ranking U.S. officials, including President Bush, the complaint said.

Muhammed Adil Khan and Ahmed were detained after separate meetings with Umer Hayat on Saturday in which Hayat was wired by the FBI, according to Hayat's family.

Federal authorities declined Wednesday to detail the recorded conversations or explain the religious leaders' connection to the investigation.

Authorities found no evidence of threats to the public or that any public institutions were targeted, Scott said.

"We did not find these guys in the middle of planning an attack," he said.

Initial reports that hospitals or certain food supplies were possible targets are wrong, Scott said.

"It was in a draft of the complaint and was taken out because it is not true, and there is no evidence to support it," said a Justice Department source close to the investigation.

The investigation began after the younger Hayat was intercepted on a flight to the United States after a two-year stay in Pakistan, according to federal authorities. His plane was diverted en route to San Francisco on May 29 because his name appeared on a "no-fly" list, according to the criminal complaint. After interviewing Hayat in Japan, FBI agents downgraded his status so he could return to the United States, where he would have to submit to further questioning.

Back in the United States, Hamid Hayat initially denied to FBI agents that he attended terrorist training camps and voluntarily agreed to a lie-detector test, according to the criminal complaint. After results deemed "indicative of deception," Hayat changed his story and gave details about the camp.

The father, Umer Hayat, who accompanied his son to the interrogation, was questioned about his son's activities, which he denied until agents showed him a video of his son confirming his involvement.

The father then admitted he paid his son's airfare and forwarded $100 a month to him while he attended the camp, according to the complaint.

Johnny Griffin III, a Sacramento attorney representing Umer Hayat, said Tuesday that his client is charged with a "bailable offense," and "nothing more than lying to an agent."

Scott warned against any violence toward Muslims or the Pakistani community.

"These are criminal charges and immigration charges against certain individuals, not a religion or people in a community," he said. "We have zero tolerance for hate crimes and acts of retaliation."

The Lodi Police Department and Lodi city officials plan to meet today with local Muslim community members to reassure them on that point, said Lodi Police Detective Dale Eubanks.

"We haven't got any complaints and don't anticipate any," he said, "but we want to reassure them (Muslims) that we, the Police Department, are taking the matter seriously."

In the San Joaquin County town of 62,500 on Wednesday, several Lodi police cruisers drove up and down streets near Blakely Park, where a Pakistani community has settled in small, single-family homes.

From early Wednesday morning, reporters and camera crews roamed the short distance between the Hayat home on the corner of Acacia and South Washington streets and the Lodi Muslim Mosque on nearby Poplar Street.

Regina Ortiz, who lives three doors down from the mosque, said she was "overwhelmed" by all the attention. She described her neighborhood as quiet and "very mixed" with Mexican, Pakistani and white families.

"Yesterday, it was FBI all over my street," said Ortiz, 41. "Today it's media trucks and reporters."

Key figures

Hamid Hayat

Age 22. Born September 1982 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.

Umer Hayat

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.

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.

Shabbir Ahmed

Working with Khan to open religious school.

Being held on immigration violation.

Mohammad Hassan Adil

Age 19. Son of Muhammed Adil Khan.

Being held on immigration violation.

Related audio:

audio U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott discusses the investigation (1:40)

audio Scott responds to a reporter's question about the timing of the investigation (0:57)

audio Keith Slotter, FBI special agent in charge, says investigators have found no plans for a specific terrorist attack (0:47)

Source: audio

About the writer:

  • The Bee's M.S. Enkoji can be reached at (916) 321-1106 or Bee staff writers Emily Bazar and Lesli A. Maxwell contributed to this report.