September 23, 2005

Indictment in Lodi Islamic Terror Probe

(Sacramento, California) In the ongoing three-year probe of the alleged Lodi, California, Islamic terrorist cell, five people have been implicated and, of those, three have been deported for immigration violations and two are being held in federal custody without bail.

Last month, 47-year-old Islamic cleric Muhammad Adil Khan and his son were deported for overstaying their visas. On Wednesday of this week, 39-year-old Islamic cleric Shabbir Ahmed was deported for the same reason. The three were deported without being charged with any crimes, however, the government alleged that they intended to set up a terror training camp in Lodi. It's noteworthy that both Ahmed and Khan are allegedly linked to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

The two being held in custody, charged with lying to federal agents, are 23-year-old Hamid Hayat and his father, 47-year-old Umer Hayat. In a development yesterday resulting from a federal grand jury hearing, prosecutors charged Hamid Hayat with providing material support to terrorists.

From MercuryNews.com:

The federal indictment alleged that Hamid Hayat, 23, provided material support and resources for carrying out international acts of terror between March 2003 and June 4, 2005, when he was arrested days after returning to the United States from Pakistan. Hayat faces multiple charges for which the combined maximum sentence is 31 years in prison.

"Today's charge centers around the fact that Hamid Hayat attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in 2004, returned to this country with the intent of committing jihad against America, and by doing so provided material support to terrorists," U.S. attorney McGregor Scott said.

The charge is the most serious that could be filed against a person without the individual actually committing a terrorist act. Hamid Hayat's father, Umer, has not been implicated in the more serious crimes. Yet.

According to prosecutors, Hamid Hayat admitted his terrorist intentions in a videotaped interrogation session where he stated that he "intended to commit jihad in the U.S. He did not have any orders to fight at present; however, he was awaiting such orders."

Interestingly, the indictment was handed up the day before a hearing is scheduled to discuss releasing Hamid and Umer Hayat on bail. To alleviate the court's concern that they represent serious flight risks, the Hayats and their relatives have ponied up equity in four Lodi properties totaling more than $1.2 million. So, later today, we'll know if a judge sets a bail amount. I think the father might get bail but not the son. The likelihood of flight by Hamid Hayat has increased substantially with his indictment.

In conclusion, the effect of the focused federal investigation of the Islamic community in Lodi, California, is believed to have disrupted for now any plans of a hidden terror cell with training capabilities. In the words of U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott, "What I am sure of is that whatever was intended isn't going to happen now."

Companion post at Interested-Participant.

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