A federal grand jury Thursday indicted a 23-year-old Lodi man on charges that he materially supported terrorism against the United States by attending a training camp in Pakistan in 2003 and 2004.
Announced here by U.S. Atty. McGregor W. Scott, the indictment marked the first formal terrorism charge to come out of what Scott and other federal officials three months ago characterized as a wide-ranging investigation into terrorism activities centered in the Lodi area, which has a large Pakistani Muslim population.
The indictment of Hamid Hayat is nearly identical factually to earlier charges alleging that he and his father, Lodi ice cream truck driver Umer Hayat, 47, initially lied to FBI questioners about the younger Hayat’s alleged training camp experiences.
The government case against the Hayats is based on allegedly contradictory statements they made to agents after they were first detained in late May.
“The underlying allegations are really just the same but relabeled,” said attorney Wazhma Mojaddidi, who represents Hamid Hayat. “The government has been investigating my client since 2002. You would think that by this time they would be able to prove that he actually attended a terrorist camp. They haven’t, because he didn’t.”
Mojaddidi and attorney Johnny L. Griffin III, who represents the father, have portrayed their clients as confused -- and in the case of Hamid Hayat, slow-witted -- people who were subjected to several days of long interrogations, largely in English, a language that neither man understands well, during late May and early June.
Two Lodi Muslim imams -- both citizens of Pakistan admitted into the United States on religious worker visas -- have been deported for alleged immigration violations.
Imam Shabbir Ahmed, who initially contested the immigration charges, was deported Wednesday night, according to his attorney, Saad Ahmad.
At hearings this summer in a San Francisco immigration court, Ahmed admitted delivering anti-American sermons at his mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, after the U.S. invasion of neighboring Afghanistan in October 2001.
Another Lodi imam, Muhammad Adil Khan, was deported last month on charges that he overstayed his religious worker visa. Khan’s son, covered under the same visa, was also deported.
Although neither religious leader was charged with a crime, federal court filings in the case alleged that they were part of a plot to set up a madrassa, or religious school, in Lodi, to train young men for terrorist missions.
“We have detected, we have disrupted and we have deterred,” Scott said, “and whatever was taking shape in Lodi isn’t going to happen now.”
Under the indictment announced Thursday, Hamid Hayat faces a maximum sentence of 31 years in prison and Umer Hayat, eight years.