Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Oh No, Al Qaeda In Lodi Again

So who knew that terrorists would be shacking up just down the road. If you live near Lodi and drive on a freeway, you’ll see two things springing up out of the ground: assorted crops and new homes built to accommodate a massive exodus of San Francisco Bay Area residents trying to escape the high cost of living. No one would have suspected that an Al Qaeda sleeper cell would be here in this sleepy town.

Hamid Hayat, 22, lives with his father, Umer Hayat, 47, and Hamid has admitted that he spent time in Al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan in 2003 and 2004. He arrived in Pakistan April 21, 2003, staying a little more than two years there. While in Pakistan, he spent six months in training camps. The training included shooting at targets of President Bush and other government figures, as well as “providing structured paramilitary training, including weapons training, explosives training, interior room tactics, hand-to-hand combat and strenuous exercise.” Hamid specifically requested, when given the choice, that his jihadi mission be in the United States, where hospitals and large stores of food (the San Joaquin Valley is a major agricultural area) could be potential targets. An unconfirmed eyewitness report (again, I stress unconfirmed) suggests the men may have also been seen casing the California Aqueduct, a massive water transport project that delivers water from northern to southern California. Both men are currently charged with lying to federal agents.

Umer Hayat, who was denied bail as a flight risk, has just built a home in Pakistan and contributed money to the training camp his son attended. Hayat’s attorney is Johnny Griffin III, who said Umer Hayat "is charged with nothing more than lying to an agent."

Hamid Hayat was on a no-fly list, and his May 29 flight returning from Pakistan to the United States was diverted to Japan, where he was questioned. He denied being connected to terrorists. After being allowed to return home, he was questioned again June 3-4, including a polygraph test, at which time he admitted attending the camp. Shown the video of his son's confession, Umer Hayat admitted knowing what his son was doing, sending his son money, and helping to pay for the costs of running the camp. Hamid Hayat's attorney was not available for court, and his bail hearing will be on Friday.

Two other men arrested for immigration violations were Shabbir Ahmed and Mohammed Adil Khan, the current and former imams of a mosque in Lodi. They were arrested after Umer, wearing an FBI wire, met with them before dawn on June 4. The two men were apparently planning to open a religious school in Lodi. Hamid Hayat was also in Pakistan as a teenager, where he attended a madrassah, or religious school, run by his grandfather, where he was influenced to attend the training camps. It is unclear at this time if Ahmed and Khan’s religious school would have been a madrassah. No other details were available, as the investigation of the two men is continuing. The homes of both men were searched, as well as the Hayat home.

Both Umer and Hamir Hayat are American citizens, and Hamir was born here. Umer drives an ice cream truck. Lodi is 35 miles south of Sacramento, the state capital of California.

Information for this story was culled from the following sources:

KCRA channel 3 in Sacramento. This station is considered in the area to be a sort of local CNN; they are heavily devoted to news coverage. The story, and a short video report, can be viewed at the link.

The Lodi News-Sentinel is, you guessed it, the local paper on the scene, with lots of local flavor details.

The Sacramento Bee is the major daily in Sacramento, and they have the fullest report of the three. They also require annoying registration. Try username: Johnny_Newsie and password: lodicell

Other commitments prevent me from updates over the next few days, but if you stick with these three, you should do all right. This site is normally full of goofy stuff, but I’ve done my best to make this post as serious and responsible as it deserves. Please feel free to give comments or criticism for improvement.

Actual Update: Captain's Quarters isn't just for Canadians anymore. The good captain reaches out to the west coast in his report on this story here.

Actual Update II: Thanks also to Roger L. Simon for the link. Thanks to all of you for dropping by.

Actual Update III: Rusty Shackleford has a good roundup of links in a long post with lots of details.

Actual Update IV: How lame am I? I mean, why self-promote when things are hot, when you can do it after the smoke has cleared and everyone has moved on to something else? Here's a semi-old bit that never caught on with the three people who normally come here, but maybe deserves another shot at glory.
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