California father, son indicted in probe of terror training camps

Men charged with lying to FBI investigators

June 17, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal grand jury indicted a Lodi ice cream truck driver and his son yesterday on charges that they lied to FBI agents during an investigation into potential ties to Pakistan terrorist training camps.

Hamid Hayat, 22, is charged with two counts of lying to agents about attending a terrorism camp and receiving weapons instruction for a holy war against the United States.

The three-count indictment accuses Umer Hayat, 47, of a single charge of falsely denying any knowledge that his son took terrorism training in Pakistan.

Defense attorneys said the charges, which carry a maximum of eight years in prison for each count, indicate that investigators can't prove their case.

Johnny Griffin III, attorney for the elder Hayat, said a "true terrorism case" would have involved charges such as conspiracy to levy war or provide assistance to al-Qaida.

"We don't see any of that here," Griffin said. "If the government can prove they attended a camp and therefore are terrorists, then why didn't they charge them with that?"

Griffin and Wazhma Mojaddidi, the son's attorney, said the men had nothing to do with terrorism. The attorneys said they might ask that the defendants be released from jail when they appear Tuesday for arraignment.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott declined to discuss the indictment.

After the June 5 arrests, federal officials alleged in an affidavit that the son had admitted attending al-Qaida training camps in Pakistan that taught participants "how to kill Americans." The affidavit said the father initially lied about knowing of his son's participation, but eventually admitted supporting his son in Pakistan with a $100 monthly allowance.

But federal officials backed away from some of the more serious terrorism allegations against the two men. In a second affidavit filed in court, U.S. officials deleted some of those allegations, among them that potential terrorism targets included hospitals and grocery stores.

Federal officials blamed the error on bureaucratic confusion.

The three-page indictment filed yesterday boils the allegations down to their bare bones. It accuses the younger Hayat of falsely telling authorities that he was not involved with a terrorist organization, that he never attended a terrorist camp and that he never received any weapons training at such a camp.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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