THE ENEMY WITHIN
WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY
ANNOUNCER: After five years of terror alerts
NEWSCASTER: The four may be headed for Boston, with plans to carry out some sort of an attack
ANNOUNCER: and hundreds of arrests
JOHN MILLER, Asst. Dir. of Public Affairs, FBI: In the course of the last year, half a dozen plots have been disrupted where there was an intention to kill people.
ANNOUNCER: is al Qaeda in America?
JOHN MILLER, Asst. Dir. of Public Affairs, FBI: People talk about sleeper cells and all of that. We didn't find any.
LOWELL BERGMAN, CORRESPONDENT: There is no al Qaeda in the United States. Is that true?
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman and The New York Times investigate the government's campaign against terror here at home
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI Director: a home-grown terrorist cell, and they viewed themselves as al Qaeda of California.
ANNOUNCER: the cases
KEITH SLOTTER, FBI, Sacramento: Various individuals connected to al Qaeda have been operating in the Lodi area
ANNOUNCER: the charges
KEITH SLOTTER: They were being trained on how to kill Americans.
ANNOUNCER: the doubts
UMER HAYAT: I'm not a terrorist. My son is not a terrorist.
ANNOUNCER: and the tough questions
SALAM AL MARAYATI, Dir., Muslim Public Affairs Council: These are not real terrorist threats.
ANNOUNCER: about The Enemy Within.
NARRATOR: Since 9/11, America has been on alert, in fear of another attack. For five years, the fear has gripped our cities. Could there be another terrorist sleeper cell in our midst? That fear hovers along the border, where more than a million people try to cross illegally every year, and the worst fear is that a terrorist will join them.
Calexico, California, U.S./Mexico border
NARRATOR: In January 2005, that fear seemed to become all too real when a frantic call came in from Mexico to a 911 operator in California.
911 OPERATOR: [subtitles] 911. What is the emergency you're reporting?
CALLER: [subtitles] Do you speak Spanish?
911 OPERATOR: [subtitles] What can I do for you?
CALLER: [subtitles] OK, Miss, I'll say this just one time. Believe what I am saying. I help to smuggle people.
NARRATOR: The caller reported that he had just helped four Chinese chemists and two Iraqis cross illegally into the United States. He said that his trafficking organization was about to smuggle a nuclear device into the United States that the Chinese and the Iraqis were then going to take to Boston.
CALLER: [subtitles] And to prove it, in about 15 or 20 minutes, I'm gong to throw a package over the fence, so you can believe me. It belongs to the Chinese we smuggled.
NARRATOR: FBI Agents Marc Nichols and Jeff Taylor raced to the scene early the next morning.
MARC NICHOLS: You know, we were frightened. You know, we were coming out here hoping not to find anything. The caller was very specific with the location where he threw this bag over the fence. And as you can see from taking a look around, there was probably hundreds of white plastic bags at the time. So we're just looking at one bag after another, and just when we were getting ready to leave is we actually found the bag.
LOWELL BERGMAN, CORRESPONDENT: So a bag like that?
MARC NICHOLS: Very similar to that. It was actually smaller than that, and it was tied off at the top, just like a little white grocery shopping bag. We had gloves on. We were able to just take a quick look to see in there without opening the whole thing up. We actually saw a picture of what appeared to be an Chinese or Asian individual.
NARRATOR: Inside the bag, agents found airline tickets and four visas for Chinese nationals.
MARC NICHOLS: We were almost speechless. We could notwe looked at each other, like, "You've got to be kidding me" because it appears that it's exactly as he described.
NARRATOR: The agents sounded the alarm, and hundreds of officials on both sides of the border were mobilized in an effort to track the suspects and search for the nuclear weapon.
MIGUEL UNZUETA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement: We jumped on it immediately with all of the resources that we had in trying to determine whether it was, in fact, accurate or whether it was a complete hoax.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Were you worried for your family?
MIGUEL UNZUETA: Absolutely.
NEWSCASTER: These are the photos the FBI released of the four Chinese nationals they call possible terror suspects. Agents believe the four may be headed to the City of Boston with plans to carry out some sort of an attack.
NARRATOR: In Washington, at the National Counterterrorism Center, the new clearinghouse for all threats to America, intelligence officials huddled around the clock to evaluate the threat to Boston.
ARTHUR CUMMINGS, FBI Counterterrorism, Wash., D.C.: The judgment was that this may be al Qaeda leveraging alien smuggling operations of some sort from the southern border.
NARRATOR: The threat quickly became a national story.
NEWSCASTER: Special teams were patrolling the streets using radiological sensors like these. Bomb squad and other emergency teams were put on standby near City Hall.
NARRATOR: Boston went on high alert as the city braced for a possible attack.
JOHN MILLER, Asst. Dir. of Public Affairs, FBI: The thing that keeps me up at night, I think more than anything else, is probably the worry of a terrorist with a nuclear device in one of our major cities. The effect of that on our democracy, on our economy, on our way of life would be so catastrophic.
JOHN BRENNAN, Fmr. Director, Natl. Counterterrorism Ctr.: The real potential damage is just mind-boggling as far as the scale. 9/11 was a tragedy, it was awful, but there's a lot worse that al Qaeda could do.
NARRATOR: In the world of counterterrorism, there are many unknowns, and often nothing is as it seems. Back on the border, Mexican authorities finally located the 911 caller. He was an illegal alien smuggler trying to get revenge on some business associates and confessed he made the whole thing up. It was a deliberate hoax. And those four Chinese chemists? They turned out to be four Chinese farmers.
JOHN BRENNAN: But this is the cost, this is the price that we have to pay, at times. There are going to be times we're going to have to go battle stations, even if the information is of dubious quality, because we don't want to take that risk.
NARRATOR: Evaluating intelligence is one of the government's greatest challenges, and one thing they have learned is that some fears are exaggerated. In places like the Mexican border, we may have unexpected allies.
MIGUEL UNZUETA: We have had sources indicate to us and tell us that smuggling organizations particularly want to stay away from Middle Eastern individuals or people that they believe may be a threat because it's just going to bring too much attention from law enforcement on these organizations both in the United States and in Mexico. They're in it for the profit. They're in it to make money, and these organizations are greedy.
LOWELL BERGMAN: It's bad for business, terrorism, for them.
MIGUEL UNZUETA: Absolutely. It is bad for business.
NARRATOR: From the very beginning, there was a gap between America's fears and the hard realities of the terrorist threat. After 9/11, the greatest fear was that there were more terrorists like the hijackers still inside the country, more al Qaeda sleeper cells hiding and waiting for orders from Osama bin Laden.
JOHN BRENNAN: In the aftermath of 9/11, we didn't know what we were facing here in the United States. There needed to be every effort made to uncover sleeper cells or al Qaeda activities here that could have been engaged in much more catastrophic terrorist planning that we had seen on 9/11.
LOWELL BERGMAN: The second wave.
JOHN BRENNAN: The second wave, right.
NARRATOR: But in fact, after a massive FBI investigation, it was discovered that those original fears of an al Qaeda second wave were unfounded, a conclusion endorsed by the 9/11 Commission.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Do you think that there are sleeper cells inside the United States?
THOMAS KEAN: We didn't come up with any in the 9/11 investigation.
LOWELL BERGMAN: The whole thing was plotted overseas?
THOMAS KEAN: Yes, that's correct.
LOWELL BERGMAN: There were no witting accomplices apparently here in the U.S.
THOMAS KEAN: No. It was interesting because these people came into the country to do us harm. The plot was developed in Afghanistan. They came into the country. People talk about cells and sleeper cells and all of that. We didn't find any.
LOWELL BERGMAN: There was a report last year that there was an FBI analysis that there is no true sleeper cell, al Qaeda sleeper cell in the United States. Is that true?
ARTHUR CUMMINGS: There's no information to show there is one. The better language would be we know of no al Qaeda network in the United States.
NARRATOR: But if they know of no al Qaeda network in the U.S., what do authorities believe is the real threat? The attacks in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005 have persuaded U.S. officials that the threat may have morphed, that the real danger now comes not just from al Qaeda, but from home-grown terrorists.
JOHN BRENNAN: I was very concerned about what happened in London, when four individuals who were U.K. citizens, born and raised in Leeds, carried out attacks against the British subway system. They were under the radar screen of the British police. They were inside of the U.K., the United Kingdom. That could be happening here in the United States. Something could be taking place in a small town or city in the Midwest or in the Northeast of individuals who have decided, for whatever reason, that they're going to carry out an attack, that they're going to blow themselves up because of what al Qaeda stands for.
LOWELL BERGMAN: You mean the enemy is amongst us.
JOHN BRENNAN: It could be. The enemy very well may be within our midst.
NARRATOR: In December 2001, just three months after 9/11, an undercover FBI informant drove into the city of Lodi, California. He had come to launch an investigation that would become one of the FBI's most significant home-grown terrorism cases. Lodi is a city of 60,000 in California's agricultural heartland, an all-American city with the feel of a small town. Early in the last century, Pakistani immigrants began coming here to work in the orchards and fields, becoming an integral part of the community. The Pakistani community has grown in recent years, fed by a steady influx of new immigrants. Until he came to Lodi, the informant, a Pakistani named Naseem Khan, was working as a clerk in a convenience store. The FBI recruited him after he told agents that when he lived in Lodi in the late 1990s, he had seen al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al Zawahiri, at the local mosque.
McGREGOR SCOTT, U.S. Attorney: That obviously perked the interest of the FBI and is what really led directly to his recruitment as an operative for the FBI.
NARRATOR: At the same time, the FBI was warned that the local imam at the mosque, Mohammed Adil Khan, was linked to radical elements in Pakistan.
McGREGOR SCOTT: Mr. Kahn's father runs a madrassa in Pakistan, a holy school in Pakistan. And in 1998, when bin Laden issued his fatwa against the West, he was asked which Islamic scholars or intellectuals supported him in that fatwa, and he specifically mentioned the scholars at Mr. Kahn's father's madrassa.
NARRATOR: Then another Pakistani imam, Shabbir Ahmed, arrived at the Lodi mosque. The FBI was concerned because back home, he had given a fiery anti-American speech.
McGREGOR SCOTT: Mr. Ahmed probably should have never been let into this country, but it was something that happened. And once he was here and we became aware of his presence and we became aware of the speech, we certainly kept a very close eye on him at that time.
NARRATOR: When the FBI sent their undercover informant to Lodi, his first assignment was to befriend the two imams. He reportedly moved into this apartment behind the mosque. He told the imams he was a computer engineer and would set up a Web site for the new madrassa, the religious school they planned to build in Lodi. The informant secretly searched the imams' offices and computers and recorded his conversations with them.
NASEEM KHAN, Informant: Testing, testing, testing. Hello, hello, hello. Testing, testing. Today is Tuesday, March 11th
NARRATOR: The FBI installed wiretaps on their phones and bugs in their offices. The investigation would continue for years.
ARTHUR CUMMINGS: We have to collect intelligence. We have to understand the nature and the scope of the activities, absolutely. We have to know everything this person is involved in if we suspect them in supporting or being part of a terrorist operation. We need to find a way of defining the nature of the network. Who else is there?
NARRATOR: The informant also began to talk with young men in the mosque, befriending them and probing their interest in jihad. One of them was 19-year-old Hamid Hayat, who had dropped out of school in the 6th grade. The informant also befriended the Hayat family. Umer Hayat, Hamid's father, had emigrated from Pakistan and become a U.S. citizen. He worked as an ice cream truck driver and raised his family in Lodi. He thought of Naseem Khan as part of the family.
UMER HAYAT: He was calling me a dad and he was calling to my wife a mom. And he was a best friend of Hamid.
NASEEM KHAN: The time is 10:45 A.M., and I'm going to meet Hamid.
NARRATOR: The informant would hang out at Hamid's house, talking about cricket and girls. But secretly, he was recording their conversations, posing as a radical Muslim, encouraging Hamid to talk about politics and jihad.
NASEEM KHAN: [subtitles] If America attacks a friendly country, can we go for jihad there or not?
HAMID HAYAT: [subtitles] Why can't we go? It's our duty as Muslims to go and help other Muslims.
NASEEM KHAN: [subtitles] Or should we only go to Afghanistan?
HAMID HAYAT: [subtitles] No, man! Anywhere in the world where Muslims are attacked, any country, right? Jihad is the duty of every Muslim.
NARRATOR: In 2003, the Hayat family left Lodi to travel to their home village in Pakistan for Hamid's arranged marriage. After his father returned to California, Hamid stayed on. He was supposed to be studying the Quran, but spent much of his time hanging out with his friends. While Hamid was in Pakistan, the informant continued to call him from California, recording their conversations. Naseem Khan talked to Hamid about attending a jihadi training camp.
NASEEM KHAN: [subtitles] No, no, no vacation, man. You're sitting there in Pakistan. You told me, "I'm going to a camp. I'll do this. I'll do that." You're sitting idle. You're wasting time.
HAMID HAYAT: [subtitles] And I can't do nothing, man. There's no choice, see?
NARRATOR: Hamid would stay with his wife in Pakistan for two years, taking care of his ill mother. Then in the summer of 2005, he returned to the United States. By now, the government suspected that Hamid Hayat had been recruited by those two Lodi imams for violent jihad in America.
McGREGOR SCOTT: It is an attempt by a group of radical Islamic religious figures to come to this country and sort of, off the radar screen, in an off-the-beaten-path location like Lodi, to establish a madrassa to serve as a recruiting ground to eventually dispatch young men over to Pakistan for training, with the potential to come back here and do some very bad things.
NARRATOR: Less than a week after Hamid returned, he and his father, Umer, were interrogated by the FBI and then arrested.
KEITH SLOTTER, FBI Sacramento: [press conference] We believe through our investigation that various individuals connected to al Qaeda have been operating in the Lodi area.
NARRATOR: Hamid Hayat was charged with material support of terrorism for attending a jihadi training camp, and both he and his father were charged with lying to the FBI. Hamid was branded a threat to America.
McGREGOR SCOTT, U.S. Attorney: He also confirmed that the camp was run by al Qaeda operatives and that they were being trained on how to kill Americans.
NARRATOR: The authorities also linked the two Lodi imams to al Qaeda, and they were taken into custody by Immigration officers.
NEWSCASTER: Federal Agents searched houses in rural northern California
NARRATOR: The news reverberated around the world.
NEWSCASTER: A 22-year-old born in California allegedly admitted he was trained to kill Americans at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan.
NARRATOR: Lodi had become an emblem of the FBI's campaign against home-grown terrorism.
NEWSCASTER: The FBI says its investigation is far from over right now
NARRATOR: In the years since 9/11, the FBI has dramatically reorganized itself. Thousands of agents have been shifted into the counterterrorism division, and the bureau is trying to transform itself into a domestic intelligence agency more like Britain's MI-5. A massive effort is under way to retrain FBI agents to become less like cops and more like intelligence officers. A key architect of that transformation is CIA officer Philip Mudd.
PHILIP MUDD, Natl. Security Service, FBI: How do we train analysts and operators to work together to paint pictures, to hunt the unknown, to understand what's happening in our cities, so that if there is a vulnerability out there that we don't know about now, tomorrow we may have a better prospect of knowing about it.
NARRATOR: It's meant a change in priorities. Preventing attacks is now more important than bringing terrorists to trial. The FBI calls it the "new paradigm."
ARTHUR CUMMINGS, FBI Counterterrorism, Wash., D.C.: If you look at today, criminal prosecution and the collection of evidence is incidental to the prevention mission. It is not the objective. It is not the mission. The mission is prevention.
NARRATOR: In the last five years, authorities say that using their newly expanded capabilities, they have made arrests in more than 400 terrorism-related cases across the U.S. And with its new paradigm, the FBI says, it has disrupted home-grown plots around the country. Last year in Atlanta, two young Muslim men were arrested after they had sent surveillance video of government buildings in Washington, D.C., to a radical Muslim Web site. In New York, surveillance video recorded by an undercover informant helped convict a young Pakistani immigrant who had agreed to carry a backpack bomb in an attack on the Herald Square subway station. And in Miami, seven members of a group calling itself the Sea of David, who operated out of this warehouse, were arrested after they reportedly told an undercover FBI informant they wanted to bring down the Sears tower in Chicago. In Washington, the government trumpeted what seemed to be a major terrorism case.
ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. Attorney General: [press conference] The defendants also face a maximum of 20 years in prison on each charge of the conspiracy to destroy buildings by use of explosives and conspiracy to levy war against the United States.
NARRATOR: But since the arrests in Miami, many questions have been raised about how serious a threat this really was.
SALAM AL MARAYATI, Dir., Muslim Public Affairs Council: In the Miami case, the seven individuals had absolutely no connection with al Qaeda. It was basically informants that may have goaded these individuals to say stupid things. And it was more a case of incitement, if anything, as opposed to finding a real, clear, imminent threat against the United States.
NARRATOR: Critics argue that it is not just Miami, that many of the government's domestic terrorism cases have been overblown.
MICHAEL S. GRECO, Pres., American Bar Assn. 2005-2006: It's a disservice to the American people because when they hear on the news or see in the newspaper that seven people, eight people have been arrested and they have been accused of terrorism, that they talked about blowing up major office buildings or hospitals, it frightens the heck out of the American people. And then those cases, it turns out, have been a lot less than what was advertised.
NARRATOR: A recent study of the government's 441 terrorism-related cases by New York University's Center on Law and Security shows that almost all of the cases involve lesser charges, like visa violations and financial fraud, not acts of terrorism.
[www.pbs.org: Examine the study]
LOWELL BERGMAN: And you're saying these are not really substantial cases, by and large.
KAREN J. GREENBERG, Dir., Center on Law & Security, NYU Law: There are some substantial cases. There's a lot of evidence that we're not allowed to see, but in terms of what we've been able to see, you could not make the determination that there have been a number of substantial cases. When you use the number 441, if you want to deduce from that what are the successful cases, you could count them on two hands.
PHILIP MUDD, Natl. Security Service, FBI: I sometimes see people criticize us for having counterterrorism cases that result in relatively modest criminal prosecutions. I look at that and applaud it. That means we prevent it before it reached a level where it's a headline-type counterterrorism prosecution. I'd prefer not to do counterterrorism or terrorism prosecutions. I'd prefer to bust conspiracies so early that someone doesn't have access to a weapon.
[www.pbs.org: More on the terrorism cases]
NARRATOR: To rebut the criticism that most of their cases do not involve an imminent threat, FBI officials point to the JIS case in Los Angeles.
JOHN MILLER, Asst. Dir. of Public Affairs, FBI: I think if you look at the JIS case, of all of the terrorist plots since 9/11, it is probably the one that operationally was closest to actually occurring.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Meaning?
JOHN MILLER: Meaning they had selected targets. They had chosen dates. They had obtained weapons. They had written down plans. And they were getting very close to actualizing the plot.
NARRATOR: The JIS case began when local police were investigating a series of gas station robberies.
MARK LEAP, Dpty. Chief, LAPD: During one of those robberies, they collected evidence that led to one of the suspects. They began a surveillance of that suspect, went back to that suspect's residence.
NARRATOR: To their surprise, inside the apartment, police say they found evidence of a terror cell: a poster of Osama bin Laden, ammunition, bulletproof vests and a hit list of possible attack sites.
RANDY PARSONS, FBI Counterterrorism, L.A. (Ret.): The targets were United States military recruiting centers in Los Angeles, the Israeli Consulate here in Los Angeles, synagoguesspecific synagoguesand the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport.
NARRATOR: Three young Muslim men were eventually arrested and charged in the case. One of them was an ex-gang member who had converted to Islam in prison. That led the massive investigation, which involved hundreds of law enforcement officials, inside the walls of the California prison system to this man, Kevin James, who the government alleges founded a radical Muslim group called JIS. But the JIS investigation soon took on some of the familiar patterns that have affected other recent cases as the government publicly linked the group to al Qaeda.
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI Director: a picture emerged of a home-grown terrorist cell that had been spawned by a small radical group operating in Folsom prison, and they viewed themselves as al Qaeda of California.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Was it linked in any way to al Qaeda?
MARK LEAP: It was only linked to al Qaeda in that they subscribed to the al Qaeda philosophy. They did not have any contact with any al Qaeda operatives, that they certainly didn't get any instructions or approval to commit this or to hatch this plot from Osama bin Laden.
NARRATOR: Investigators suspected that there were as many as a hundred Muslim convicts who had some connection to Kevin James and could be part of the terror cell. And FBI director Mueller repeatedly warned Americans about the threat growing inside the prisons.
ROBERT MUELLER: Inmates may be drawn to an extreme form of Islam because it may help justify their violent tendencies. These persons represent a heightened threat because of their criminal histories, their propensity for violence, and their contacts with fellow criminals.
NARRATOR: Although the FBI says its investigation is still ongoing, after more than a year, it has not yet found a widespread conspiracy inside the prison system.
LOWELL BERGMAN: In the JIS case and the subsequent investigations that you were involved in, it turned out that there wasn't a great network inside the prisons. Is that correct?
RANDY PARSONS: That's correct.
NARRATOR: In the end, the government indicted only four menKevin James and the three gas station robberson terrorism charges. They have all pled not guilty.
JOHN MILLER: The operational piece of it that was on the street involved, as far as we can tell at this point, the people charged. But I don't think, for the potential victims in a case like that, it would have much mattered to them if they were killed by a group of four people, or killed by a group of four people that was part of a larger group.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Look at the L.A. black prison gang that was holding up gas stations.
THOMAS KEAN: That's not al Qaeda, is it. You can't say there aren't going to be threats, traditional threats from all sorts of sources within the country, going to the Haymarket explosion in Chicago back two centuries ago. I mean, we've had anarchists. We've had people trying to trying to do harm for one reason or another. What we're talking about here is a specific organization that's now around the world in its scope, that has announced they want to do us harm and kill as many Americans as possible, that has technology to support them, and has some very intelligent people who are working to do us harm. And that is the enemy. And that is who we're fighting. And we've got to always keep our focus on that.
NARRATOR: In February 2006, when the director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, came to Capitol Hill to deliver his annual threat assessment, he highlighted just two cases as examples of home grown-terrorism, the JIS prison investigation and the Lodi case.
JOHN NEGROPONTE, Dir. of National Intelligence: A network of Islamic extremists in Lodi, California, for example, maintained connections with Pakistani militant groups, recruited United States citizens
NARRATOR: Just two weeks later, the trial of Hamid Hayat for supporting terrorism and his father, Umer, for lying to the FBI, began in California. As federal prosecutors laid out their case against Hamid, they introduced into evidence a scrapbook found in his home.
McGREGOR SCOTT, U.S. Attorney: This is a young man who, when his residence was searched, had in his possession essentially scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings and documents, other kinds of things, that espoused a very violent version of Islam and Jihad.
[www.pbs.org: Examine the scrapbook]
NARRATOR: The jury heard conversations that had been secretly recorded by the informant, Naseem Khan, including this one in which Hamid gloats over the brutal assassination of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
HAMID HAYAT: [subtitles] Did you hear about Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street journalist who went to Karachi, Pakistan? He was Jewish, see. They killed him. So I'm pleased about that. They cut him into pieces and sent him back.
NARRATOR: And the jury was shown the prosecution's strongest piece of evidence, confession videos of both Hamid and Umer Hayat, in which they describe going to training camps.
FBI AGENT: Now, my understanding, Hamid, is that you attended some camps.
HAMID HAYAT: OK.
FBI AGENT: I mean, that'sthat's true, right? And so why don't you tell me, so I know where you're coming from. Bring me up to speed a little bit on the camps that you attended.
HAMID HAYAT: Like, what kind of camps were they?
FBI AGENT: Yes.
HAMID HAYAT: They were, like, training camps.
JAMES J. WEDICK, FBI Supervisory Special Agent (Ret.): When I heard that these two gentlemen were being prosecuted down in Lodi, I thought, these gentlemen are probably going to be convicted because when the U.S. attorney decides to prosecute somebody, they almost always have the evidence.
NARRATOR: James Wedick is a highly-decorated veteran of 35 years in the FBI, where he specialized in complex corruption and fraud cases and had extensive experience handling informants. A year after he retired, Wedick agreed to review the videotaped confessions as a favor to an old friend, one of the Hayats' defense attorneys.
JAMES WEDICK: He asked me what my professional opinion was and whether or not I thought the gentlemen would be convicted if they used these video confessions. I spent a weekend looking at the video confessions. I was shocked because what I saw was something rather unprofessional.
FBI AGENT: You come back to the U.S. after you've done your training, you're ready for jihad.
HAMID HAYAT: Uh-huh.
FBI AGENT: Right now?
HAMID HAYAT: Uh-huh.
FBI AGENT: Over here?
HAMID HAYAT: Yeah. No, I'm not ready for jihad, you know.
FBI AGENT: That's what they train you for. That's that's
JAMES WEDICK: You can hear the agents literally dictate to him what it is that they thought he was involved with.
FBI AGENT: You came to the United States. They sent you off, you know, "Allahu Akbar," you know, you got to go to Jihad.
HAMID HAYAT: Uh-huh.
FBI AGENT: And you left with marching orders.
HAMID HAYAT: What's that?
FBI AGENT: You know what that is?
HAMID HAYAT: No.
FBI AGENT: That's, you know, "Here's what your mission, here's what you do. Here's what you do with all this training we've done for you."
JAMES WEDICK: You can hear in the agent's tone of their voice, they are angry when it doesn't come back exactly the answer they want in other words, he's engaged in terrorist activities.
FBI AGENT: Who's going to tell you? They're not going to are they going to call you up from Pakistan? I don't think so.
HAMID HAYAT: Maybe send a letter or anything like that maybe?
FBI AGENT: I don't think they're going to send a letter. I mean, they're not going to write down a little note, you know, "You got to do this." I think you know, I think you're going to have to talk to somebody here in Lodi.
JAMES WEDICK: They're leading him, and its ridiculous. It's shameful. It's shameful because I've never seen the department do this before.
NARRATOR: The FBI agents involved in the interrogations declined to be interviewed. The tapes had been recorded after Hamid and his father voluntarily came in for questioning. Initially, Hamid denied going to a camp. It was only after several hours of questioning that he changed his story and the videotaping began.
[www.pbs.org: More from the FBI]
NARRATOR: In another room, the FBI was questioning Umer Hayat. He denied that his son had been to a terrorist training camp. But after they showed him Hamid's confession, Umer changed his story and said that he, too, had visited camps.
FBI AGENT: So you actually went into a building, downstairs into a basement
UMER HAYAT: Yes, sir.
FBI AGENT: And you could look through gates and see people shooting.
UMER HAYAT: Yes.
FBI AGENT: Must have been very loud in there.
UMER HAYAT: Oh, yeah. Must have been just louder.
FBI AGENT: You get to shoot the guns?
UMER HAYAT: No, I'm just watching, you know?
NARRATOR: Umer described a radically different scene than his son, a huge underground shooting range and training facility at one of the camps.
FBI AGENT: So let's talk about what you saw at the camp.
UMER HAYAT: I saw you know, they put they cover to the face, like like Ninja Turtles.
FBI AGENT: Yeah?
UMER HAYAT: You know, they was trying to stick it here and jump maybe 16 feet over there.
FBI AGENT: Like a vaulting pole.
UMER HAYAT: Yes, sir.
FBI AGENT: Must have been very tall ceilings. It was a very deep basement where you
UMER HAYAT: Very deep basement, yes. Very, very deep. Yes, yes, yes.
McGREGOR SCOTT: Well, certainly, there's no question that parts of Umer Hayat's interview were questionable, certainly the pole-jumping in a basement and those things that
LOWELL BERGMAN: The Ninja Turtles and the high ceiling
McGREGOR SCOTT: There's no question about that. On the other hand, you have to ask yourself, why would a man who's been living in the United States for many decades, was here on 9/11 why would he say that his son has attended a terrorist training camp if it wasn't true? It makes no sense. There's no logic to that.
NARRATOR: The defense argued that Umer Hayat's descriptions of the camp were so odd because after many hours of interrogation, he, as well as his son, had simply made up stories to please the FBI.
FBI AGENT: Did you see a President Bush dummy?
UMER HAYAT: Oh, yeah. A lot of them.
FBI AGENT: Lots of them. They had lots of them?
UMER HAYAT: Yeah. Yeah. And they put a cross on it.
FBI AGENT: Right. And that's what they're shooting at, right, because that's that's the enemy.
JAMES WEDICK: I think if you look at the taped, recorded confessions, you'll see that they more or less answered the way the bureau wanted them to answer. They were attempting to go back to their house. That's all they wanted to do was go home!
UMER HAYAT: Rumsfeld?
FBI AGENT: Rumsfeld?
UMER HAYAT: Rumsfeld. There was a dummy over there, too. I saw that.
FBI AGENT: You saw a Rumsfeld dummy?
UMER HAYAT: Yes.
JAMES WEDICK: They had no thoughts that if they cooperated with the FBI that either of them would spend the rest of their lives in jail. It never, ever occurred to them.
NARRATOR: And there were also serious problems with the FBI informant, Naseem Khan, starting with that sensational claim that he had seen Ayman al Zawahiri at the Lodi mosque.
LOWELL BERGMAN: It's not true, right? He didn't see him.
McGREGOR SCOTT: I think that's correct. I think it's a it's a situation of a mistaken identification.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Wouldn't that affect his credibility, that he might be just trying to please his employer, who eventually would pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars?
McGREGOR SCOTT: Well, I think, certainly, any time you're using a confidential informant, the credibility of what that person is saying to you matters.
NARRATOR: And then there were the tapes of the informant talking to Hamid in Pakistan, in which Naseem Khan was browbeating him about attending a Madrassa and going to a jihadi camp.
NASEEM KHAN: When I God willing, when I come to Pakistan and I see you, I'm going to f-ing force you get you from your throat and f-ing throw you in the madrassa, in your grandfather's madrassa.
HAMID HAYAT: I'm not going to go with that.
NASEEM KHAN: Oh, yeah, you will go. Yeah, you will go. You know what? Maybe I can't fight with you in America, but I can beat your ass in Pakistan so nobody's going to come to your rescue.
LOWELL BERGMAN: He is leading Hamid, right? "When are you going to a camp?" I can't even say on PBS the language he used a number of times trying to get him to go to a camp.
McGREGOR SCOTT: That is correct. Certainly, we wish other things had occurred, you know, on some occasions during the course of those conversations. But the fact of the matter is, this is a confidential informant. He's working undercover. He is not a trained law enforcement officer. He's serving a purpose for the FBI. And these things never go exactly as prosecutors would hope that they would.
NARRATOR: In the end, the government produced no direct evidence to corroborate Hamid and Umer's confessions, to confirm that they had actually been at a training camp.
JAMES WEDICK: In a criminal investigation, during the arrest process, we take a confession. We always review that confession later on and try to corroborate whatever is said, no matter how small the detail, no matter what the investigation is. Here they did not corroborate anything that was said during those interviews.
[www.pbs.org: Read Wedick's interview]
NARRATOR: The defense wanted to put James Wedick on the stand to testify as an expert witness, but the judge ruled that the value of his testimony was, quote, "outweighed by its potential for confusing the jury," end quote, so they never heard his scathing critique of the FBI's investigation.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Mr. Wedick told us that he was shocked at the nature of the interrogations, at the nature of the informant's conversations with Hamid, and because it was clear that these people were telling all kinds of different stories to please.
McGREGOR SCOTT: Well, Mr. Wedick is certainly entitled to his opinion. And I respect his opinion, but I also respectfully disagree with it. And I think the jury did, as well.
NARRATOR: After nine days of deliberation, the jury convicted Hamid Hayat of material support of terrorism and lying to the FBI. He now faces a possible 39-year sentence. His appeal is ongoing. Umer Hayat's case resulted in a hung jury, and the prosecution decided not to try him again when he agreed to plead guilty to an unrelated charge of lying to a Customs officer.
UMER HAYAT: [press conference] I'm not a terrorist. And my son is not a terrorist. And they were not believing me. They were not believing the truth. So what am I going to do then?
NARRATOR: And what about those two Lodi imams who were the initial targets of the investigation? Despite years of secret wiretapping, break-ins and surveillance, the government still did not have enough evidence to charge the imams with anything related to terrorism.
McGREGOR SCOTT: So ultimately, the decision was made to deport them, rather than criminally prosecute them.
LOWELL BERGMAN: So you couldn't indict the imams
McGREGOR SCOTT: That's correct.
LOWELL BERGMAN: based on anything they did or you had collected at that point?
McGREGOR SCOTT: That's correct.
LOWELL BERGMAN: So you have your two big fish, if you will, and you had to let them go?
McGREGOR SCOTT: Well, I don't you know, there's a difference between letting them go right back on the street in Lodi, as opposed to sending them back to Pakistan. And ultimately, that was the decision that was made.
LOWELL BERGMAN: In this new paradigm, why wouldn't you watch all of that so you could infiltrate the Jihad in order to find out what's going on, since you were so on top of this situation?
McGREGOR SCOTT: It's not that simple at the time when you're trying to make these decisions, and it does come back to the ultimate objective, which is to detect and deter these things from happening. And we have absolutely accomplished that in this circumstance.
LOWELL BERGMAN: When you look at this case as a whole, based on your experience in the FBI, what were they really after? Why did they wind up with the Hayats?
JAMES WEDICK: They were the last men left. The imams had been deported. They had not developed any evidence suggesting anybody else was here in the United States waiting to commit jihad. They had paid more than almost $250,000 to a government informant, and they had to bring about charges concerning someone.
LOWELL BERGMAN: What was the reaction of the FBI when they found out you were working for the defense?
JAMES WEDICK: Not happy.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Did you make a lot of money on this case?
JAMES WEDICK: None. I'm doing it simply because they're not guilty.
NARRATOR: And finally, what about the government's dramatic claim that they had discovered al Qaeda operatives in Lodi, California?
McGREGOR SCOTT: [press conference] He also confirmed that the camp was run by al Qaeda operatives and that they were being trained on how to kill Americans. I think it's unfortunate that that term was used, but it was a very fluid situation. So I do regret it from the perspective of the potential for too much concern by the public in this circumstance, in terms of because in the post-9/11 world, you say al Qaeda, your average person on the street has a certain connotation in their mind's eye. And and and I regret that.
LOWELL BERGMAN: But that caused international headlines. So there is public influence that takes place you know, publicity that would influence a jury, right?
McGREGOR SCOTT: The any time there is a case of this level of public interest, whether it's a particularly egregious capital murder case in a small town or whether it's a matter that you've just described, there's always going to be a lot of public interest in this matter. And as I have said, I think hindsight being 20/20, we should not have said that at the opening press conference.
LOWELL BERGMAN: So if I get this accurately, there has not been nor is there an al Qaeda cell in Lodi, California.
McGREGOR SCOTT: That's correct.
NARRATOR: In Lodi, the impact of the investigation and trial is still reverberating though the city's Muslim community. Umer Hayat is back in town. He spent almost a year in jail awaiting his trial before he was released. He lost his home and is now living in a garage.
UMER HAYAT: I lost my business. I lost my name. Everything, I lost it. See, I'm living in with my family in the garage right now.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Did you actually go to a camp
UMER HAYAT: No.
LOWELL BERGMAN: and see training?
UMER HAYAT: Never.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Never?
UMER HAYAT: Never.
LOWELL BERGMAN: So why were you saying yes and describing
UMER HAYAT: [laughs] Oh, I just make a story, that's all, because they were not believing me when I was telling the truth. I'm American citizen. This is my country. I love my country. I'm not expecting those kind of thing, even I never think in my life like this kind of thing, the one they put in my on me and my son, the terrorist word. We never think, even, like, those kind of stuff. Yeah, was a nightmare for us.
NARRATOR: What happened to the Hayats has left the Pakistanis in Lodi wary. Many people here would not talk with us on the record about the case. But most, like Taj Kahn, a retired engineer and long-time resident, believe the Hayats are innocent.
TAJ KHAN: According to the FBI allegations, they're supposed to be terrorists. The community doesn't believe that. Nobody in the community believes that.
LOWELL BERGMAN: Nobody?
TAJ KHAN: Nobody. Not one person that I know, and I know hundreds of people.
LOWELL BERGMAN: And the alienation that we hear in the Muslim community in Lodi, that the government went after an ice cream truck driver and his lazy son and made it into a national case, do you hear that around the country?
SALAM AL MARAYATI, Dir., Muslim Public Affairs Council: Oh, yeah. Definitely. That's the perception within the Muslim-American community, that these are not real terrorist threats that they're talking about. These people are guilty of stupidity, guilty of saying dumb things, wrong things. But are they al Qaeda conspiracies that are part of this larger network in the United States? I don't think you'd find many people believing that right now.
NARRATOR: American Muslim leaders believe the FBI's aggressive investigative focus on their communities is misplaced because Muslim communities here are very different from those in Europe that have spawned deadly attacks.
SALAM AL MARAYATI: These enclaves in Europe are really ghettos. They're isolated physically from the rest of the society. In America, it's very different. We've had an affluent and highly upwardly mobile Muslim-American community that is relatively well educated, and so there's a different sense here. And the question is, should we look to Muslim-Americans as partners in the war on terror or suspects in the war on terror?
LOWELL BERGMAN: You're sitting in the Muslim community and you're already feeling vulnerable, obviously. I mean, you're under scrutiny, obviously, right? And you see arrests, for instance, of an ice cream truck driver and his son. You understand that when you then hear also there is warrantless eavesdropping going on, and so on, you're a target. You're a target.
ARTHUR CUMMINGS, FBI Counterterrorism, Wash., D.C.: I do. Look, I
LOWELL BERGMAN: And it will be harder for you to recruit sympathizers, as a result, in those communities.
ARTHUR CUMMINGS: It is harder, and I receive the phone calls and have the contacts with the community that feels that way. Now, I that, rightfully so, but none of it is done with malice. None of it is done with bias.
JOHN BRENNAN: It's a very careful balance that needs to be struck. You don't want to in any way to alienate American Muslims, the international Muslim community
LOWELL BERGMAN: But we have. We have. A lot of American Muslims we talked to are pretty alienated with some of the cases that have been made, some of the publicity about their communities.
JOHN BRENNAN: And it's very unfortunate that there may have been some heavy-handed measures in the aftermath of 9/11 because we didn't know what we faced here. And if there were actions that were taken that shouldn't have been taken against American Muslims, well then, that's a real problem.
NARRATOR: At the heart of the home-grown terrorism cases like Lodi lies an uneasy question: After five years, have we struck the proper balance between the investigative power of the government and the reality of the threat we face?
MICHAEL S. GRECO, Pres., American Bar Assn. 2005-06: After almost five years, the people who have been arrested, tried, convicted do not bespeak a major terrorist community in the United States. And the American people, I think, slowly are starting to realize that these cases are being brought being advertised or described as one thing, and then they end up being something else, and credibility is suffering.
PHILIP MUDD, Natl. Security Service, FBI: I spend every day looking at information that says that people are still trying to come after this country and that there are people inside this country who want to commit acts of violence as a result of an ideology that inspired the 19 hijackers. I wouldn't worry about it. That's our mission to deal with that kind of problem. But to say to people seriously that that doesn't exist here, I would say would be incorrect.
JOHN MILLER, Asst. Dir. of Public Affairs, FBI: In the course of the last year, half a dozen plots have been disrupted where there was an intention to go forward and kill people and those people aren't dead, they're alive and walking around today shows that we're doing something right with the intelligence.
JOHN MILLER, Asst. Dir. of Public Affairs, FBI: Well, that's the problem. I mean, we when you say "disrupt a plot," the second thing you look at is, "Was the plot real?" I mean, frankly, you've got a lot of nuts in this country, unfortunately, who are always talking about doing this or that you know, the bomb threats that occur all around New York and Washington and other places. So when you say you disrupted something, you've got to say, "Is it real?"
LOWELL BERGMAN: You're skeptical.
THOMAS KEAN: Yes, I am. You can cry wolf once too often and then people stop paying attention. We've got to be very, very serious about what's credible and what's not credible.
JOHN BRENNAN: Terrorism, it'syou know, can be a rallying cry for political purposes. I don't think that we should hype the threat in order to gain sort of political advantage in any way anybody should do that. There is a legitimate concern about terrorism. However, you don't want to over-hype it, and I think there has been some of that over the past couple of years.
THE ENEMY WITHIN
WRITTEN and PRODUCED BY
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY
For THE NEW YORK TIMES
PRODUCED IN AFFILIATION WITH
FOOTAGE PROVIDED BY
DIRECTOR OF BROADCAST
POST PRODUCTION DIRECTOR
ON AIR PROMOTION PRODUCER
POST PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
FOUNDATION GRANT MANAGER
WEBSITE ASSOCIATE DEVELOPER
WEBSITE EDITORIAL RESEARCH ASSISTANT
WEBSITE PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
WEBSITE COORDINATING PRODUCER
DIRECTOR OF NEW MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY
DIRECTOR OF BRAND STRATEGY
SENIOR PRODUCER SPECIAL PROJECTS
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER SPECIAL PROJECTS
A FRONTLINE coproduction with CamBay Productions, Inc. in association with The New York Times
Copyright2006 All Rights Reserved
ANNOUNCER: This report continues on our Web site, where you can watch the full program again on line in high-quality video, read the interviews with experts on U.S. anti-terror efforts and the Lodi case, explore more about the Muslim community of Lodi, the FBI's new approach and the domestic terrorist threat. Then join the discussion about this report at pbs.org.
To order FRONTLINE's The Enemy Within on DVD or videocassette, call PBS Home Video at 1-800-PLAY PBS. [$29.95 plus s&h]
Funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the Park Foundation, committed to raising public awareness, with additional funding for this program from the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
FRONTLINE is made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you.
SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
NEXT ON FRONTLINEFrom Jesus to Christ: The First Christians (Part Two)December 30th