I'm no terrorist, Umer Hayat insists

A federal judge is to sentence the ex-ice cream vendor today on unrelated
customs charge.

By Stephen Magagnini -- Bee Staff Writer

Published 12:01 am PDT Friday, August 25, 2006 
Story appeared on Page A1 of The Bee

Since his plea bargain, Umer Hayat has been on house arrest in his one-room
Lodi home, where he lives with several relatives, including grandson Jial
Usman. Sacramento Bee/Andy Alfaro
Over one long weekend with the FBI in June 2005, Umer Hayat went from being
a neighborhood fixture driving an ice cream truck in Lodi to a suspect in
America's nightmare scenario: another al-Qaida attack. 
Today, Hayat, 48, expects to walk out of U.S. District Judge Garland E.
Burrell's courtroom a free man for the first time since June 2005, when he
was arrested on charges of lying to the FBI about his oldest son's terrorist
training in Pakistan and his own visits to the camps. 
Ultimately, Hayat's trial ended in a hung jury and he agreed to plead to an
unrelated charge of lying to customs officials about how much money he
carried on a 2003 trip to Pakistan. His son, Hamid, 23, was convicted on
terrorist charges and awaits sentencing. 
This week, in his first public interview about the case, Umer Hayat
vehemently denied he or his son was ever involved in terrorism, saying their
confessions, taped by the FBI, resulted from exhaustion and leading
Speaking first from his attorney's downtown Sacramento office, then from the
Lodi garage where he now lives, Hayat expressed a deep love of America and
hatred of terrorists. 
That love doesn't extend to the FBI, which he accused of setting him up and
"screwing" him to justify an expensive and unfruitful investigation into two
Lodi imams from Pakistan who since have been voluntarily deported. 
"I lost my name, my business, my community and my home for nothing," he
said. "Don't talk to the FBI, never, ever. They screwed us very bad. They
was telling me, 'You are helping your son,' so I was cooperating with them."

U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott on Thursday defended the government's case and
tactics, saying it had struck a blow in the war on terrorism. 
"We remain completely confident in the case that was brought and the results
that were obtained. Our mission is to protect Americans from further acts of
terrorism in our homeland while balancing the constitutional rights of
citizens. We believe both those missions were accomplished in this
During a lengthy interview with The Bee, Hayat, a burly man with a lightly
graying beard, balanced his anger with a desire to resume his American life.

He said he emigrated from his village in Pakistan 30 years ago, becoming a
U.S. citizen in 1993. Immigrants, he said, founded and built America:
"That's why we called it 'United' States. It doesn't matter if somebody is
Christian or Jewish or Muslim, they're all human beings and I love them." 
He said he also loves his attorney, Johnny Griffin III, a Christian
defending a Muslim, "as a brother." 
Hayat insisted he and his son were never terrorists, never went to terrorist
camps, and told the FBI what it wanted to hear so they could go home after
hours of relentless questioning. 
He maintained that he and his son drove to the FBI office voluntarily in
June 2005 and submitted to taped interviews because they were good U.S.
"If we were terrorists, we would not give them an interview," Hayat said. 
On April 25 -- the same day Hayat's trial ended in a hung jury -- a federal
jury in Sacramento convicted his son, Hamid, of providing material support
to terrorists and lying to the FBI about it. The son was found guilty of
undergoing terrorist training in Pakistan and returning to Lodi prepared to
wage violent jihad, or holy war, against his fellow Americans. 
Hamid Hayat faces a maximum of 39 years. His sentencing has been postponed
until the court considers his motion for a new trial on Nov. 17. 
In June, federal prosecutors agreed not to retry Umer Hayat on charges of
lying about his knowledge of his son's activities if he pleaded guilty to
lying to federal agents about how much money he was taking to Pakistan
during a trip in April 2003. 
Hayat said he told customs agents he was carrying $10,000 -- the legal limit
-- when in fact he, his wife, Oma, and son Hamid had $28,053 among them. He
maintains they planned to use the money to build a home in Behbudhi, the
village where he grew up. 
As part of the plea agreement, Hayat has spent the last two months under
house arrest. 
Hayat's roots in America date back to 1919, when his grandparents came to
Woodland and established a chicken farm. 
In 1946, one of his uncles came to California and married an American. A
second uncle ran a hotel in Stockton, and in 1971 Hayat's father moved to
Lodi to work in the fields. 
"We are not very educated people," said Hayat. "America is a beautiful
country, a good country for us because we are poor people." 
In Pakistan where they farmed, he said, "we was working hard and not making
enough money, maybe $300 a year for the whole family." 
Hayat said he arrived in 1976 and "immediately started work picking peaches
and cherries. I wanted to go to school, but my father couldn't afford it." 
Hayat said he went on to warehouse and factory work, and by the time he
returned to Behbudhi to find a wife in 1978, "everybody say, 'I'll give you
my daughter, you can have my daughter.' " 
In the early 1990s, he became a "Pick N Go" ice-cream vendor in Lodi,
selling Tweety Birds, Super Mario and Ninja Turtle pops. 
In his videotaped interview with the FBI, Hayat told agents he had visited
several terrorist training camps in Pakistan, including one with "a
thousand" people. Hayat said trainees practiced pole vaulting in a giant
basement and wore masks -- "Like a Ninja, you know?" 
On the ice-cream van in his driveway is a picture of a lime-green "Ninja
Turtle" pop with a masked Ninja turtle. 
Hayat told The Bee he got the Ninja idea from the ice cream bar and TV shows
his kids watched. 
During the FBI interview, he also told agents he saw trainees taking target
practice with dummies made to look like George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld --
an idea he now says he got from TV news accounts of American dummies burned
in effigy. 
When asked by the agents what kind of U.S. targets the masked men in the
camps were training for, Hayat mentioned the U.S. Department of Justice, the
Pentagon and the FBI and federal immigration buildings in Sacramento. 
When asked about his son's "boss" in Lodi he suggested one of the Lodi
imams, "Maulana Shabbir (Ahmed)." 
When the FBI asked if some of the other youths who associated with Ahmed
"went to training camp," Hayat said, "Yes." 
"And they all learned to kill Americans and shoot at President Bush? Dummies
and all that stuff?" 
"Yes," Hayat replied. 
During closing arguments, prosecutor David Deitch asked the jury, "Why would
he lie about something like that? There is no answer. Why would he dime out
his son falsely?" 
In his interview this week, Hayat maintained -- as his attorney did during
trial -- that he broke down and told the FBI what they wanted to hear. 
He conceded he and his son were "very stupid" to tell the FBI these tall
tales, adding that ever since his son "was a little kid, he likes to make up
stories, that somebody was sick and dying, or somebody was killed." 
"I'm angry at him -- Why did he make (up) stories (for the FBI)?" Hayat
said. "But then I make story." 
Hayat said he sent his son to Pakistan because he was lazy and hooked on
video games. He said his son learned the Quran, which he mastered well
enough to lead prayers at a south Sacramento mosque. 
Both Hayats initially told FBI agents they knew nothing about terrorism. But
that story changed after agents bluffed Hamid Hayat, saying they had a
satellite picture of him at a terrorist training camp. In his constantly
changing story, Hamid Hayat then admitted going to various camps. 
The agents showed part of the son's confession to Umer Hayat. "They said,
'No, he was in the camp, you are lying to us,' " Hayat said, "Then I say,
'Whatever you say, sir, OK, sir,' because I want to go home." 
In the aftermath of the case, Hayat no longer has a home to go to. The
Hayats sold their house to pay their legal bills and now live in a garage in
the back that used to be Hamid Hayat's video-game room. "We have no privacy,
and I don't have one penny," the father said. 
Hayat said he misses his son, who remains in jail, and talks to him by
phone. "He said, 'Just make a prayer for me, I'm going to be coming home.' "

His wife, he said, is crazy with grief. His daughter Raheela, 11, who hopes
to become a doctor, suffers from headaches. "When I go to sleep," she said,
"I think the FBI's going to come and knock this house down." 
Hayat hopes the black ankle bracelet he's been wearing will come off today
after Judge Burrell issues his sentence. Both sides agree Hayat should do no
more than the 330 days he's already served. 
Hayat, who's spent much of his house arrest watching his beloved wrestling
on TV, said he plans to find a job -- any job other than driving an ice
cream truck. 


The elder Hayat, who pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge rather than
undergo a second trial, hopes his ankle bracelet will be removed today.
Sacramento Bee/Andy Alfaro

Umer Hayat, right, lives in his garage. Daughter Raheela, 11, second from
left, holds his grandson Jial Usman, 1. With them are Hayat's nephews, from
left, Adeep Khatab, 12, Abbiker Ismil, 7, and Asad Khatab, 14. Sacramento
Bee/Andy Alfaro

FAIR USE NOTICE: All original content and/or articles and graphics in this
message are copyrighted, unless specifically noted otherwise. All rights to
these copyrighted items are reserved. Articles and graphics have been placed
within for educational and discussion purposes only, in compliance with
"Fair Use" criteria established in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.
The principle of "Fair Use" was established as law by Section 107 of The
Copyright Act of 1976. "Fair Use" legally eliminates the need to obtain
permission or pay royalties for the use of previously copyrighted materials
if the purposes of display include "criticism, comment, news reporting,
teaching, scholarship, and research." Section 107 establishes four criteria
for determining whether the use of a work in any particular case qualifies
as a "fair use". A work used does not necessarily have to satisfy all four
criteria to qualify as an instance of "fair use". Rather, "fair use" is
determined by the overall extent to which the cited work does or does not
substantially satisfy the criteria in their totality. If you wish to use
copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner. For more information go to:

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Want to discuss this topic?  Head on over to our discussion list, [EMAIL 
Brooks Isoldi, editor


  Post message: osint@yahoogroups.com
  Subscribe:    [EMAIL PROTECTED]
  Unsubscribe:  [EMAIL PROTECTED]

*** FAIR USE NOTICE. This message contains copyrighted material whose use has 
not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. OSINT, as a part of 
The Intelligence Network, is making it available without profit to OSINT 
YahooGroups members who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the 
included information in their efforts to advance the understanding of 
intelligence and law enforcement organizations, their activities, methods, 
techniques, human rights, civil liberties, social justice and other 
intelligence related issues, for non-profit research and educational purposes 
only. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material 
as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use 
this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' 
you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
For more information go to:
Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

Reply via email to