SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Vastly different pictures emerged Thursday of a man charged with attending an Al Qaeda camp in Pakistan, with government attorneys portraying Hamid Hayat as a trained terrorist intent on attacking Americans while his defense described him as a directionless young man prone to wild storytelling.
Prosecutors said they will show the 23-year-old Lodi man traveled to Pakistan in 2003 and 2004 to train at the camp. They also said he was awaiting information about potential targets after he returned to his family's home in the heart of California's farming region.
"Hamid Hayat talked about jihad before he even left the United States. He talked about acts of violence, he talked about training camps. He received weapons training while he was there," Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Ferris said in opening statements, referring to the Arabic word for "holy war."
"He admitted he went to a jihadist training camp, not once but twice. ... He returned to the United States to commit jihad, and he was waiting for orders."
Hayat and his father are charged with lying about whether the younger man attended the training camp and have been in custody since their arrests last June.
Hamid Hayat faces up to 39 years in prison if convicted of the charges against him — three counts of making false statements to the FBI about attending the camp and with providing material support to terrorists. His father, 48-year-old Umer Hayat, is charged with two counts of making false statements to FBI agents and faces 16 years in prison if convicted.
They are being tried together before separate juries. Opening statements in Umer Hayat's portion of the trial are scheduled for Tuesday.
Hamid Hayat's attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, said the government has no proof that her client attended a terrorist camp, despite agents being told by a paid informant that he was traveling to Pakistan and knowing the location of the suspected camp.
"You will not see and they will not prove that Hamid Hayat actually attended a camp," Mojaddidi told the jury in her opening statements.