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6/11: Terrorism case in Lodi, California begins to unravel
Released 10 June 2005  By Patrick Martin - World Socialist Website

Within days of the June 5 arrest of two Lodi, California men
supposedly linked to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, the case has
begun to come apart at the seams. Attorneys for the two men, a
Pakistani immigrant and his US-born son, announced Thursday that
there were significant discrepancies in the affidavits used by the
federal Department of Justice to charge their clients.

The affidavit released to the news media on June 7 said that the
younger man, 23-year-old Hamid Hayat, had attended a terror-training
camp in Pakistan along with "hundreds" of other would-be terrorists,
and returned to the US intending that "potential targets for attack
would include hospitals and large food stores."

These details were the focus of a flood of sensationalized coverage
in the American media, portraying Hamid Hayat as a prospective mass
killer, and his father, Umer Hayat, a 47-year-old ice cream truck
driver, as the mastermind of a terrorist cell who was in direct
contact with Al Qaeda.

Neither allegation, however, was in the affidavit actually filed with
a federal court in Sacramento the same day. Instead, the two men were
charged only with lying to federal investigators about Hamid Hayat's
itinerary during a recent visit to Pakistan. Three other men, also
Lodi-area Pakistanis, were detained on suspected immigration
violations. None of the five have been charged with carrying out or
planning to carry out any violent act.

Johnny L. Griffin III, who represents Umer Hayat, told the press,
"Notwithstanding the alarming statement made in the affidavit, the
government has only charged each of the defendants with one count of
making a false statement to a federal agent. They are not charged in
this complaint with committing any terrorist acts, and they are not
charged in this complaint with supporting any terrorist acts."

Griffin accused the government of "releasing information it knew it
could not authenticate." Wazhma Mojaddidi, who represents Hamid
Hayat, said, "We question how this got out and why this got out."

The Justice Department denied that it was deliberately attempting to
precipitate an anti-Muslim witch-hunt in California, claiming the
difference between the two documents was "an unfortunate oversight
due to miscommunication."

Press reports citing federal sources said that the initial target of
the investigation was one of the three men detained on immigration
charges, Mohammed Adil Khan, a Lodi-based imam. The secretive court
which authorizes wiretapping under the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) approved FBI spying on Khan three years ago.

A cousin of Hamid Hayat told the press that the FBI had begun
investigating the Hayats because of anonymous phone calls. "They have
something against Hamid's dad," he said. "Because of that they kept
calling the FBI and saying they are terrorists."

Lodi is an agricultural town 40 miles south of Sacramento and a
center of wine-making. It would seem an unlikely focus for a
terrorist conspiracy. But it has a sizeable Pakistani immigrant
community, about 2,000 out of the 40,000 population, who can be
easily scapegoated for their Muslim religion and traditional dress.

All that is known for certain about the case is that Hamid Hayat,
like many young Muslims, was outraged by the US invasion and
occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and that in 2003 he went back to
his family's ancestral village in Pakistan for a visit, and stayed on
to study at an Islamic school run by his grandfather. He returned to
the US on May 29, 2005, flying into San Francisco International

US officials claim that Hayat's grandfather is an associate of
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a long-time leader of Islamic fundamentalist
groups in Pakistan. Rehman is now head of the MMA, a party formed by
several such groups which has a strong presence in the Pakistan
parliament and controls the state government in Baluchistan.

Even if true, a family connection to Rehman would prove nothing,
since Rehman is currently a political ally of General Pervez
Musharraf, the Pakistani military dictator who is the principal US
stooge in the region.

Even more peculiar is a description in one version of the FBI
affidavit of the Al Qaeda camp that Hamid Hayat allegedly attended.
Identified as "Tamal," the camp was reported to be close to
Rawalpindi, where Pakistan's military and intelligence commands are
headquartered, and to the Pakistani capital Islamabad. In the past,
the US government has always claimed that suspected Al Qaeda camps
were located in the primitive mountainous areas in western Pakistan,
near the Afghan border, not in the densely populated Punjab region
closer to India.

The loose ends and inconsistencies in the initial reports on this
case suggest that, as in most previous "terrorism" prosecutions in
the US, some combination of government provocation, anti-immigrant
bigotry and sheer incompetence is involved. In this case, there is an
evident political motivation, since the Bush administration is
engaged in an intense campaign to renew in full and expand the 2001
Patriot Act.

Lurid stories in the media of Al Qaeda-type terrorist cells operating
in the US and well-publicized anti-terrorist prosecutions would be
considered within government circles as useful in stoking up fear and
insecurity in the public and inciting suspicions of Muslims-just the
right environment for pushing through Congress a consolidation and
expansion of the police-state provisions of the Patriot Act.

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