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Thread: Videotape appears to show FBI leading Lodi terror suspect

  1. #1
    Partridge Guest

    Videotape appears to show FBI leading Lodi terror suspect

    Hamid Hayat: Did he confess to agents?

    In roughly four hours of a videotaped interrogation, Hamid Hayat confessed to attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and returning to the U.S. to attack hospitals, grocery stores and banks. Or did he?

    While prosecutors played snippets of the tape during the first two days of Hayat's trial, his defense lawyer responded Wednesday by playing the tape in its entirety. What emerges is a much more complex view of the 23-year-old Lodi man's interrogation, during which FBI agents seem to lead Hayat into giving certain responses.

    Hayat is charged with attending the camp in 2003, returning to the U.S. in 2005 with the intention of staging an attack and lying to the FBI about it. He faces up to 39 years in prison if convicted. His father, Umer, also is charged to lying to federal investigators and is scheduled to go on trial next week.

    The tape shown to jurors includes only the last portion of a 10-hour interrogation at FBI regional headquarters in Sacramento last June. During that time, Hayat tells agents several times that he is tired, his head hurts and that he doesn't feel as mentally sharp as he normally does. He twice asks if he can go home.

    In her opening statement, Mojaddidi described Hayat as a young man with a sixth-grade education who didn't have a permanent job and was likely exaggerating to tell the FBI agents what he thought they wanted to hear.

    Her line of questioning when she cross-examined FBI Special Agent Pedro Aguilar suggested to jurors a different interpretation of the videotape.

    Countering the prosecution image of Hamid Hayat as a trained terrorist, Mojaddidi sought to show that he actually was a gullible young man who was tired of denying he hadn't been in a camp. To that end, he was merely going along with the agents' questioning, unaware of how his answers were incriminating him, she said.

    At one point in the tape, Hayat speaks positively of the American presence in the area. Immediately afterward, prompted by an agent, he agrees the camp he attended is a training ground for terrorists committed to hurting the United States.

    "Yeah, and what they do at these camps ... what they're doing is teaching people how to kill American troops," agent Gary Schaaf said.

    "Of course," Hayat replied.

    "Right, that's what these camps are about," Schaaf said.

    "They do that, sir," Hayat responded.

    Agents also pressed him for the name of the person running the camp, giving the impression they knew it was someone Hayat was close to. On the videotape, Hayat appeared to try to find someone who could fit their description.

    "All right, we're talking about someone who you know very well," agent Timothy Harrison said.

    "That runs the camp?" Hayat said.

    "In your family, yeah," Harrison responded.

    "In my family?" Hayat said. "Maybe my uncle."

    "Now, I'm cracking that door for you a little bit here, you know," Harrison said.

    "Yeah, my uncle, maybe it's my uncle," Hayat responded. "Yeah, I'll say that — maybe, I'm not sure, maybe my grandfather."

    He used the phrase "I'll say that" more than 60 times during the interview, Mojaddidi said, suggesting Hayat was just agreeing with the agents questioning him.

    Later, when an agent brought up al-Qaida and asked Hayat if the terrorist group ran the camp, he agreed.

    "You know about al-Qaida which has a lot of important leaders there .... and you know they're tied to a lot of the training camps over there," Harrison said. "Is al-Qaida tied to this camp that you went to?"

    "I'll say they are," Hayat responded.

    He also told agents he spent much of his time at the camp in its kitchen, helping cook rice and vegetables, because he wasn't physically strong.

    There also were glaring inconsistencies in Hayat's testimony, Mojaddidi said. She listed the various answers he gave about the camp's location, when he attended the training, how long he spent at camp and what training he allegedly received.

    After listing the various conflicting answers the FBI agents extracted from an increasingly weary Hayat, Mojaddidi asked Aguilar if he had followed up the questioning with investigations to confirm any of Hayat's vague answers. Each time, the agent said investigators had been unable to confirm his presence at the camp.

    Prosecutors followed Mojaddidi's cross-examination, with the agent confirming that Hayat never denied in the taped interview that he had attended the camp or received training there.

    Hamid and Umer Hayat, 48, were arrested in June and have pleaded not guilty. Federal investigators began focusing on the Pakistani community in and around Lodi, a farming town about 35 miles south of the state capital, shortly after the 2001 terror attacks.

    An informant, who was paid $250,000, is crucial to the government's case. He began infiltrating the Pakistani community in May 2002 and soon befriended the younger Hayat.

    The FBI began focusing on Hamid Hayat in January 2003 and collected hundreds of hours of secretly recorded conversations.

    The informant, Naseem Khan, took the stand later Wednesday, and jurors were read the transcript of a conversation between the two men. In it, they heard Hayat brag that while he was in Pakistan he'd become friends with a man who had "gone for jihad," using the Arabic word for holy war.

    The prosecution will continue to read from the transcript today.

  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    In it, they heard Hayat brag that while he was in Pakistan he'd become friends with a man who had "gone for jihad," using the Arabic word for holy war.
    Just a note on this - If things go according to plan, I'm supposed to be going to Palestine later this year for a visit to Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and Hebron. It is hardly beyond the realms of possibilty that I will encounter members of Hamas on this trip, and I will talk to them.

    So, I'm sitting in the pub telling my mates about the various people I met there. "Yeah, I met some Hamas guys. They were ok/insane/justifably pissed off/more tolerant than I expected [delete as applicable]." - I guess that could be construed as 'bragging' about 'jihadis'?

    This Lodi case stinks to high heaven, especially when you see how much the 'informer' has been paid. A quarter of a million dollars! That's not chicken feed.

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