Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Still in Pakistan

Muhammad Ismail and his son Jabir (Jaber) Ismail's ordeal has been made public by US newspapers. It looks like they have been given permission to fly back to the US.

This morning I called Ismail. I called him on his cell phone in Pakistan. It was almost 10 am California time (10 at night in Pakistan). Ismail was a bit disoriented by my call--he started speaking Pushto, I wonder if I disturbed him in sleep. I told him who I was; he remembered that I had visited Behboudi. But he was very scared to say anything. When I asked him when was he coming back, he told me I should talk to his attorney!!! So, this is what FBI has accomplished. It has successfully intimidated a particular section of our population. Not sure if this intimidation works on die-hard terrorists, but it has definitely succeeded in scaring simple folks who are now wary of anyone talking to them, who now believe crafty agents can easily trap them. Here is federal prosecutor Larry Brown explaining how putting broad limelight on individuals stops them from carrying out terrorist acts.

Here are Federal Prosecutor McGregor Scott's comments after Lodi arrests.


Remarks of U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott
June 8, 2005 1:30 p.m.
Press Conference re Lodi Investigation
Good Afternoon, my name is McGregor Scott, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of
California. I am joined by FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter and Chuck Demore of the
Bureau of Immigration Customs Enforcement. Also with me is the lead prosecutor on the
investigation, Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Lapham.
Protecting America from potential terrorist attacks is the top mission of the United States
Department of Justice. In recent days, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Department of
Homeland Security and other allied federal, state, and local agencies have worked around the
clock to follow-up on information received pertaining to individuals in the community of Lodi,
California, located 35 miles south of Sacramento.
Our collective efforts have resulted in the arrests of Hamid Hayat, of Lodi, and his father Umer
Hayat, also of Lodi, California. Complaints have been filed against both men for violations of
18 U.S.C. 1001, making false statements to the FBI. Copies of these complaints are available in
the back of the room and have been posted at our office’s website. Umer Hayat was arraigned
yesterday and ordered detain by Magistrate Judge Peter Nowinski. Hamid Hayat is scheduled to
be arraigned this Friday, June 10, at 2:00 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Nowinski.
Two others have been detained by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on
immigration violations. They are Muhammed Adil Khan and Shabbir Ahmed, both residents of
Lodi, California.
Recent events were prompted by the return of Hamid Hayat to this country from Pakistan. Mr.
Hayat had been on the “No Fly” list, but was downgraded to the “Selectee List” after having
been interviewed in Japan.
Last Friday, June 3, Hamid Hayat was interviewed by special agents of the FBI here in
Sacramento. During that interview, Mr. Hayat denied that he had ever attended any terrorist
training camp or school, and stated he was not a Jihadi member, and that he would never be
involved with anything related to terrorism.
The following day, Mr. Hayat willingly underwent a polygraph, and his answers were found
indicative of deception. After approximately two more hours of questioning, Hamid admitted
that he had, in fact, attended a Jihadist training camp in Pakistan for approximately 6 months in
2003-2004. He also confirmed that the camp was run by Al-Qaeda and that they were being
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trained on how to kill Americans. He further stated that he specifically requested to come to the
United States to carry out his Jihadi mission.
Hamid Hayat’s father, Umer Hayat, also was interviewed on June 3 by the FBI. During that
interview, he denied that his son was a terrorist. On June 4, when confronted by the admissions
his son had made, Umer Hayat confirmed that his son had attended a Jihadist training camp in
Pakistan in 2003-2004. He also admitted that he paid for his son’s flight and provided him with
an allowance of $100 per month, knowing his son intended to attend a jihadi training camp.
These are allegations only and both men are presumed innocent. I wish to emphasize that this
investigation is ongoing at this time and evolving literally by the moment. We fully anticipate
that there will be further developments in the hours and days ahead. We fully intend to keep the
media and the community informed of these developments.
Let me say a few words about the nature of this investigation. Special Agent Slotter, Special
Agent Demore and I wish to emphasize that an investigation of this nature is not taken lightly.
Every step we have taken-and will take-- is examined, reexamined and vetted by the highest
levels of the Justice Department. The multiple layers of review are designed to ensure that people
are not improperly accused of potential terrorist activities. They are also designed to ensure full
and complete compliance with the United States Constitution and the laws set forth by Congress.
In this investigation, we have done precisely that. Based on the information we have, we are
acting absolutely appropriately and responsibly in taking the actions that we have.
I wish also to reassure our community that we are vigorously pursuing this matter. No resource
or effort is being spared in running all the information we have to ground.
I would also like to make a statement to the Muslim community in Lodi and elsewhere. We have
the greatest respect for the Muslim faith and the Muslim members of our community. These are
criminal charges and immigration charges against certain individuals, not a religion or people in
a community. And to those who would seek to retaliate against Muslim persons for the actions
at issue in this case, Special Agent Slotter and I have one simple word of advice: Don’t. As our
agencies have long demonstrated, we have zero tolerance for hate crimes and acts of retaliation.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Cross-cultural/linguistic faux pas

August 25 was the first time I came face to face with Umer Hayat. After his sentencing Umer spoke to the Press in his wanting English. What is my impression of the man? I think he is a man of few words, and most probably fewer still thoughts.
Very predictably the question about the terrorist training camp came up. Why did he tell FBI agents about a camp that he now claims was totally fictional? In his reply Umer said, ‘I just made up stories. That’s all. It’s my habit.’


Whereas the above statement sounds like a lame excuse I believe the problem lies in Umer’s limited command of English. I can understand how frivolous remarks like these are made in Urdu, and probably in Pushto too, and to Urdu listening ears they sound OK and make sense. But this is not how remarks of this nature are made in English and specially in such a serious matter. In English he could say something like, “I deeply regret what happened in that interrogation. I just don’t know how I did it. I was tired, I was fatigued, and they kept asking me questions, so I just made up stories. And it was so stupid of me. I got myself in trouble because of my stupidity. And the FBI recorded all that. Then it was too late. There was no way for me to turn back. I don’t know how to put it. It was just plain stupidity on my part to get myself in trouble in that manner.”

Johnny Griffin, Umer’s attorney, has a sharp aid, Silky Sahnan, who speaks Urdu/ Hindi. Silky needs to work with Umer on such cross-cultural/linguistic issues.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Most of the Pakistanis one would find in Lodi, California come from either the village of Behboudi or Shinka. After staying overnight in Behboudi we made a short trip to Shinka. Munawwar drove the car while Jabir Ismail and his friends gave us the guided tour.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

East and West, side by side

Although I have been to a number of cities in Pakistan, before my March visit I had never been to Behboudi or any nearby town. I needed a person familiar with the area. Through a long process I got introduced to Munawwar Hussain Awan who worked in the circulation department of Daily Dawn. Munawwar was in charge of newspaper delivery operation in Hattiyan and surrounding areas. We rented a car from Rawalpindi and headed off to Behboudi.

People in Behboudi are all related to each other. These Chach people have been living here for a very long time. Economic forces have made some of them go to foreign lands where they encounter cultures very different from their own. For the emigrants among these Chach people the only way to retain their identity and have a clear understanding of their roots is to bring their children back to Behboudi. In Behboudi you will find kids brought back from the UK or USA, by their parents. These children live there for long periods of time. I talked to a few of them and tried to understand if they felt living disjointed lives; if they were torn between two very different value systems.

Chach Pathans are very hospitable people. News of our arrival spread fast in the village. We were taken to a hujra/baithak (guest reception building) where people gathered to talk to us. Everyone had a different variation of the same question, ‘Would Hamid Hayat be freed?’ At night Munawwar and I were put in a modern house. Here Munawwar is seen enjoying Chach hospitality.

Friday, September 01, 2006

After Umer Hayat's sentencing on Friday, August 25, Prosecutor Larry Brown spoke on behalf of McGregor Scott. Here is a video showing his response to a very honest, innocent question.