Tuesday, April 25, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal jury yesterday convicted a 23-year-old man of supporting terrorists by attending an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan three years ago.

Hamid Hayat, a seasonal farm worker in Lodi, was convicted of one count of providing material support to terrorists and three counts of lying to the FBI.

The verdict was issued hours after a separate jury hearing a case against the man’s father deadlocked, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial.

The father, a 48-year-old ice cream truck driver, was charged with two counts of lying to the FBI about his son’s involvement in the training camp. Defense attorneys and prosecutors will meet in court May 5 to decide whether Umer Hayat will be retried.

Both men are U.S. citizens and stood trial in federal court before separate juries. They have been in custody since their arrests in June.

In the father’s case, “the jury declared that it was hopelessly deadlocked this morning,” deputy court clerk Carol Davis said. U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. questioned each juror and then discharged them.

Umer Hayat was charged after he denied knowing about the camp when FBI agents interviewed him. Prosecutors said he later changed his story during an interrogation at FBI regional headquarters.

The defense argued during the nine-week trial that the government failed to produce any evidence that the son attended a terrorist camp.

“They couldn’t prove it because it didn’t happen,” Umer Hayat’s attorney, Johnny Griffin III, said outside court. “He’s not a terrorist. There is no evidence to demonstrate he is a terrorist.”

The men — both U.S. citizens — were among five members of the Lodi Pakistani community arrested in the summer after a nearly three-year terrorism investigation. The others, two imams and a son of one of the religious leaders, have since been deported to Pakistan over immigration law violations.

The case centered on videotaped confessions the men gave in June to FBI agents and a government informant who secretly recorded hundreds of hours of conversations but whose credibility was challenged by the defense.

Defense attorneys said the confessions were made under duress, after the men had been questioned for hours in the middle of the night.

Umer Hayat could have been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison. His son faces up to 39 years in prison.

Hamid Hayat’s family has said he was merely a directionless young man who traveled to Pakistan between 2003 and 2005 to find direction in life and a wife. At the time of his arrest in June, he was working in a cherry-packing shed in Lodi, an agricultural town about 35 miles south of Sacramento.

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