SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Hospitals, supermarkets and other large buildings in California were among the possible terrorist targets of a man charged with attending an Al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, according to a videotaped interview played for jurors Tuesday.
Hamid Hayat told FBI agents he was awaiting orders to strike buildings in Los Angeles and perhaps San Francisco after he returned to the U.S. last year.
He said the targets might include "big buildings, like finance buildings, banks, stores." When asked to be specific, Hayat, 23, told the agent he meant food stores.
"Why would you hit a food store?" the agent asks on the videotape.
"I think just to hurt people," Hayat responded.
The roughly 10 hours of interrogation were videotaped last June and seemed to support the government's allegations that Hayat attended the camp in 2003, returned to the U.S. to carry out attacks and then lied to the FBI. He faces up to 39 years in prison if convicted of three counts of making false statements and providing material support to terrorists.
Hayat, however, contradicted himself throughout the FBI questioning and at times struggled to explain his involvement in the camp. That could help his defense lawyers, who claim he is prone to exaggeration and never actually underwent terrorist training.
Hayat described the camp on part of the video played in court Tuesday, but the tape also showed him changing his descriptions of details.
He said houses in the camp were mud huts, then later changed that to multistory buildings. He said trainees shot at targets marked with bull's eyes, then said they aimed at dummies made to look like American leaders. His accounts of the number of trainees at the camp varied from 200 to about 35, and he wavered on whether they spoke only Urdu or also Pashto and English.
Hayat's attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, has said her client was worn out during the interrogation and simply told investigators what he thought they wanted to hear. Prosecutors insist he admitted going to the camp twice.
Mojaddidi told jurors she wanted to put the clips selected by the prosecution into a wider context and started to play the four hours of videotape in its entirety.
The video viewing was expected to continue through most of Wednesday morning.
Hayat became the focus of an FBI investigation in the California farming community of Lodi in January 2003, after he befriended a paid government informant who was secretly recording their conversations.
Hayat's father, Umer Hayat, 48, is charged with lying about whether his son attended the camp. They are being tried together before separate juries. The elder Hayat's portion of the trial is scheduled to begin next week.