The ramifications are frightening.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Leftist attorneys for an Islamic from Lodi who was convicted 12 years ago in a terrorism case that drew national attention, argued in federal court that his confession was false, the result of leading questions and exhaustion.
More than a dozen friends and relatives of Hamid Hayat are expected to testify over the next several weeks that they were with the young man when he was purported to have attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. He is now 35 and has served half of his 24-year sentence in federal prison.
The evidentiary hearing in federal court in Sacramento is Hayat’s latest and perhaps strongest bid to overturn his 2006 conviction. Prosecutors stand by their case, saying Hayat confessed multiple times to attending a terrorist training camp.
“I have no doubt he is completely innocent,” said Nasim Khan, another Islamic from Pakistan, one of the world’s leading exporters of terrorism.
In 2005, when the FBI arrested a then-21-year-old Hayat and his father, Lodi ice cream vendor Umer Hayat, officials said they had broken up a terrorist cell. The case drew national media to Lodi, where Hayat, who was born in California, lived with his family.
A year later, jurors convicted Hayat after a two-month trial on charges that he trained at a terrorist camp in his family’s homeland of Pakistan from 2003 to 2004 and returned to the United States while waiting for orders to kill Americans. He was also convicted of initially lying to the FBI about his terrorist training.
Umer Hayat, who was accused of making false statements to the FBI, pleaded guilty to lying about his finances and spent 11 months in jail.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes agreed to review the case, which is expected to take several weeks and include late-night hearings in order to conduct live video conferencing with witnesses in Pakistan. A ruling in the case could take several months.