SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 19: An FBI informer in a terror case against two Pakistani Americans was paid $250,000 to infiltrate the large Pakistani-American community in Lodi, California. This was stated by defence attorney Washma Mojaddidi in her opening statement during trial of Hamid Hayat, 23, and his father Umer Hayat, 48.
The attorney charged that the government case was founded on cultural ignorance that confused a wedding party for a terrorist gathering and depended heavily on the testimony of an informer who had been paid $250,000 by the FBI to infiltrate the 2500-strong Pakistani-American community in Lodi.
“The government will not and cannot show that Hamid attended a training camp in Pakistan,” Ms Mojaddidi said.
The trial of Hamid Hayat and his father that began last week is expected to last nine weeks.
The government plans to present evidence that includes satellite surveillance of Pakistan; testimony from paid informer Naseem Khan, who befriended members of the Lodi community and its Muslim religious leaders starting in August 2002, and a videotape of Hamid Hayat.
The younger Hayat, who faces up to 39 years in prison if convicted, is charged with materially supporting terrorist activity and three counts of initially lying to FBI agents about his activities in Pakistan. His father is charged with one count of lying to federal agents; if convicted, he faces a prison term of up to 16 years.
The defence attorney described Hamid as a weak-willed individual who lied about alleged terrorist training to please FBI agents after hours of interrogation. “He said nothing more than what the FBI wanted to hear,” she said.
“Hamid Hayat talked about jihad before he even left the United States. He talked about acts of violence, he talked about training camps. He received weapons training while he was there,” Assistant US Attorney Laura Ferris said.
“He admitted he went to a jihadist training camp, not once but twice…. He returned to the United States to commit jihad, and he was waiting for orders,” she added.
Testifying about the interrogation, which occurred over two days in June 2005, FBI Agent Harry J. Sweeney said he obtained Hamid Hayat’s confession after suggesting that the FBI had satellite surveillance pictures.
The three-year FBI investigation in Lodi, a farming town, has shaken the city’s Pakistan American community and resulted in the voluntary deportation of its two leading religious leaders for immigration violations.
The deportation of Imam Mohammad Adil Khan and Imam Shabir Ahmed will be used by the defence in its attack on the government case. In the FBI video, Hamid Hayat reportedly says that his plan was to return to the United States and receive instructions from his religious leaders.
“The two men the government believed would be giving orders to Hamid,” the defence attorney said, “were allowed to voluntarily leave the country.”
To support their case against Hamid Hayat, the government showed a videotape, which was recorded in early June 2005, of a weary Hayat under interrogation by FBI agents.
In the portions of the four-hour video shown in the courtroom of District Judge Garland E. Burrell, the FBI agents did most of the talking. Hayat, who was wrapped in a blanket supplied by the agents, responded mainly with “yes sir” or by nodding his head.