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mcgregor w. scott

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In 2003, McGregor W. Scott became U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California inheriting the federal government's investigation of a possible network of Al Qaeda operatives in Lodi, California. The case drew national attention and resulted in the deportation of two imams from the community and the 2006 conviction of a young man, Hamid Hayat, for attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The trial of Hamid's father Umer ended in a mistrial. In this interview Scott discusses the government's evidence against the Hayats, including undercover recordings made by an FBI informant and the Hayats' confessions. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted July 24, 2006.

How did the Lodi, [Calif.], investigation start?

I became the U.S. attorney here in March of 2003, and when I arrived, this investigation had been going on for some time. At that time, it focused predominately on Mohammad Adil Khan, who was the mullah in Lodi, and it sort of grew from there to include other members of the Pakistani community in Lodi. For a variety of reasons, we were looking at that community -- things that I can't really go into in terms of classified information -- but there were things we were looking at, and it sort of grew from there. ...

So the U.S. government became aware at some point that one of the imams, [Shabbir Ahmed], had given a speech after 9/11 in Pakistan.

That's correct. That is public record. It was an anti-American, pro-Taliban speech. ...

How did the imams get into the United States?

Well, Mr. Khan had been here for some time and had come into this country on a religious visa to serve as the imam of that mosque in Lodi. He then, it's our understanding, recruited Mr. Ahmed to come to this country as well and essentially serve as his right-hand man in the service of the mosque in Lodi. Quite frankly, in hindsight, 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 speeches that it is our understanding that he gave in Pakistan post-9/11, prior to the American invasion of Afghanistan, we certainly kept a very close eye on him at that time.

According to the immigration hearing, the senior imam, Adil Khan, had links to [Osama] bin Laden, to Saddam Hussein, to all kinds of people?

Well, in terms of the bin Laden connection, Mr. Khan'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. Khan's father's madrassa. So that is the connection to bin Laden in terms of an intellectual or academic support for his fatwa against the West.

Were there other connections?

Not that I'm aware of. ...

And does the madrassa still operate today?

That's my understanding, yes. ...

How dangerous was the situation in your mind?

Well, it's hard to answer that question because it really depends on the definition of "danger." In terms of an immediacy, is there something going to happen tomorrow? I don't think that we ever felt that it rose to that level. We viewed Mr. Khan as really more of a long-term threat in terms of coming to this country, and by his own declarations, stating that he desired to establish a madrassa like the one that his father had set up in Pakistan. That obviously was of concern to us because it preached a certain tenet of Islam which is antithetical to the best interests of the United States. So we were concerned about that from a long-term perspective.

What triggered the immediacy of this was Hamid Hayat's return from Pakistan [in 2005] and things that he said in interviews in terms of an acceleration of the threat. ...

[Why did Hamid Hayat travel to Pakistan from 2003 to 2005?]

There is a new paradigm: ... [We] have the task of not just investigating a crime after it's happened; ... we now have to prevent that crime from happening in the first place.

Well, we think that there were a couple different reasons. Number one, he married while he was in Pakistan; but secondly, we believe he went there with the stated intent and purpose of attending a terrorist training camp.

And his father's role in all of this?

Well, his father [Umer Hayat] certainly is someone that was of interest to us as well, again through family connections. The father-in-law of Umer Hayat runs a madrassa in Rawalpindi, and that madrassa teaches a very radical form of Islam which is antithetical to the [security of the] United States. These family connections were very much of interest to us. In fact, Hamid Hayat's uncle -- his mother's brother -- we believe is very active in these activities in Pakistan.

By activities, do you mean Al Qaeda-related terrorist activities?

We cannot definitively say in any way, shape or form that there is a direct link to Al Qaeda, but what we need to remember here is that there are many organizations which espouse the Islamic religion, which hate the West and want to kill Westerners, are here to destroy our way of life and that are not Al Qaeda. There are many others that fall into that definition, and many of them are in Pakistan. ...

In Washington when I talk with people, they talk about this case in the context of what they say is a new paradigm for investigations by the Justice Department. What is this new paradigm, and how [does] it relate to this case?

... There is a new paradigm, because we in federal law enforcement and our state and local partners have the task of not just investigating a crime after it has happened -- which is the old paradigm, which we have done for decades if not centuries; we now have the duty to prevent that crime from ever happening in the first place.

So when we look at a situation like Hamid Hayat, who gets off an airplane and within 100 hours admits, "I've been to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, and I came back here with the intent to kill Americans," that's where we're going to take that case, and we're going to prosecute him for the crime of providing material support to terrorists as opposed to waiting until after his intent to come back here and kill Americans [is] carried out. That's the paradigm, and that's the shift that's happened since 9/11.

Isn't that true of all criminal investigations? I mean, you arrest somebody or stop them if you really think they have an intent to commit a crime.

Well, there's a difference, because typically an investigation, a prosecution, is an after-the-fact kind of a thing. ... Those things happen typically after the principal crime, the heavy crime, the main crime, has been committed. In this circumstance, what we're looking to do is detect what somebody may be up to, deter that intent to the best of our ability, and then disrupt, ultimately, what they have intended to do in the long run.

In this particular circumstance, the means by which we were able to do that was to successfully prosecute him for material support to terrorists, which constituted the attendance at a camp and the intent to come back here and kill Americans, as opposed to after that terrorist attack has been carried out.

Isn't part of this that prosecution is the last resort in these cases?

Well, we often say that if nobody knows when we have successfully detected and disrupted a terrorist act, that's the optimum solution for us, because we don't want to let the bad guys necessarily know what we're doing and why we're doing it. Prosecution can be the last resort.

Oftentimes, as we did in this case, there are other tools in the toolbox, such as immigration, deportation proceedings and things of that nature. But I think it would be a correct statement to say that the last choice is a prosecution. ...

... There was an informant [Naseem Khan]. What is his role in this drama?

Shortly after 9/11, the informant was contacted by the FBI because he shared a name with someone that the FBI was interested in interviewing and talking to. It was not the person that the FBI was looking for, just a shared name. That informant had lived for some time in Lodi prior to 9/11, was of Pakistani descent, and could speak the language that was predominant in that community, so he was recruited by the FBI. And as a result of Mr. Khan and the number two man [Mr. Ahmed] being there in Lodi, he was sent to Lodi as an undercover operative of the FBI, essentially to ingratiate himself into the community and see what he could find out. ...

What did he do, and how long was he operating in Lodi?

He would have started in Lodi in approximately 2002, so for roughly a three-year period of time, he was operating in Lodi. ...

And did he come upon the Hayats because of their rhetoric or because he was attracted to them because they appeared to be radical?

Well, my understanding is that they all attended the same mosque there in Lodi. Hamid Hayat was a young man; the confidential informant was a young man, and they somehow hooked up or connected, and it went from there.

As I understand it, the informant described himself as being some kind of computer expert in that business, drove a nice car. He was well dressed, educated. Hamid Hayat worked in a cherry-picking plant, and even his father says he's lazy. ... It didn't seem like they had a lot in common.

Well, they both attended the same mosque in Lodi. There was a chance meeting between Hamid Hayat and the confidential informant, and Hamid Hayat said some things that drew the attention of the undercover informant, and it sort of went from there. ...

The informant told the FBI when he was recruited that he not only knew about activities in Lodi, but he said he believed that Ayman [al-] Zawahiri had been in Lodi in 1999.

He did make that statement. What happened is ... the FBI was interviewing the confidential informant at his place of business, and they were asking him about any connections he may have to Osama bin Laden. He denied any. Concurrently to that, up on the TV that was apparently playing there, Zawahiri's picture, along with a third person, popped up on the TV screen, and the informant said, "No, but I think I've seen that guy in Lodi," or words to that effect. ... And that, obviously, perked the interest of the FBI and is what really led directly to his recruitment as an operative for the FBI.

It's not true, right? [The informant] didn't see him.

I think that is correct. I think it's a situation of a mistaken identification.

Wouldn't it affect his credibility that he might be just trying to please his employer, who eventually would pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Well, certainly any time you're using a confidential informant, the credibility of what that person is saying to you matters. Now, at the trial, the defense was allowed to fully impeach him and [go] before the jury to substantiate what it argued was the inaccuracy of that statement and, therefore, his unreliability on other matters. ... But at the end of the day, in terms of evidence that was presented to the jury, he was impeached on that matter, and all the relevant conversations were recorded. ...

OK. But you know the questions this informant [asked]. It's on the tape you're talking about. 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.

That is correct. That is correct ... Certainly we wish other things had occurred 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. …

But from the work of the informant, either in his wearing a body recorder, meeting with Hamid Hayat or on the telephone in Pakistan, there's no evidence that was created in those conversations that Hamid Hayat actually went to a camp at that point, right?

That's correct. Now, following the time period during which we believe Hamid Hayat attended the camp, to the best of our knowledge, the two of them only spoke one time, and that was a chance meeting in Lodi after Hamid Hayat's return, and there were several other people in the room at the same time. So sure, it's a correct statement to say that Hamid Hayat never went to the confidential informant and said: "Hey, guess what? I went to the terrorist training camp." On the other hand, the opportunity for the conversation to take place never arose prior to Hamid Hayat's arrest. ... The informant tried to stay in touch as frequently as he could, ... [but] there were only a few days ... [between] when Hamid came back into the United States [and when he was brought in for questioning]. ...

Is there any record that the informant tried to stay in touch with Hamid to see if he went to the camp?

There weren't any conversations between the informant and Hamid in which Hamid indicated that he had, in fact, attended the camp. ...

So between that time, 2003 and June of 2005, there's no evidence from the informant that Hamid actually went to a camp during that period of time, other than the informant telling him he should go?

That is correct. ... [But] in the conversations, even in the States, as well as while Hamid Hayat was in Pakistan, he professed to believe in violent jihad. He professed his desire to go to a camp and ultimately pledged to go to a camp. Now, he never said, "I went to a camp." The closest he ever got was, "I am going to go to a camp." He even referenced the fact that he was going to be going after Ramadan in 2003.

I know. But here's my question: If you look at somebody [who] is going to go to a camp, if you say he's professed to go to a camp on the tape, in the conversations, and you've been telling him, "Go to a camp; I want you to go to a camp," why don't you call him back a month later and see if he went or after he says he's going to go and check to see if he went?

I don't know the answer to that. In trying to piece things together, I would estimate that probably what occurred is that Hamid Hayat went to the camp, was out of contact for some time. The communication ceased, and it was never resurrected until they bumped into each other in Lodi upon Hamid Hayat's return. ...

The FBI case agent [Pedro Aguilar] testified that there was no follow-up investigation in Pakistan, no further inquiries in Pakistan once the contact between the informant and Hamid Hayat ended.

To the best of his knowledge, in terms of what he had personal knowledge of, there were other agents who testified that there were matters that they could not go into in a public courtroom because of classified material issues. ...

The problem we have is we've got restrictions from DOJ [Department of Justice]; we've got restrictions from the national security community in terms of what we can say publicly. I'm not trying to make this hard. It's just we've got limitations on what we can say.

On one of the tapes, Hamid Hayat talks about the Daniel Pearl murder and how he thinks it was a good idea to keep Jews out of Pakistan. Did you think he was really dangerous because of that?

Well, the description that he gave was really far beyond that. ... I mean, he went into graphic detail and reveled in Daniel Pearl's beheading to a level that really indicated a disrespect for human life and for nonbelievers of his brand of militant Islam, and that I believe shows that he would be capable of doing things adverse to Americans. It was such a visceral description of what had happened to Daniel Pearl that it really was beyond the pale.

What I don't understand, then, is you know that he is a possible suspect in a terrorist act or has those sympathies. ... Your national security investigation is focusing on him and his father and their relationships and so on. How did he get on a plane [back to the United States] in 2005? He was on the terrorist watch list. ... How did he get on a plane in 2005 if he was on the no-fly list?

A mistake was made. He should have not been allowed to board that plane to return to the United States. We've all seen numerous stories in the newspapers about people that are on the list, ... people like Cat Stevens who are on the no-fly list. Somehow a mistake is made, and the guy gets on the plane, and then it's discovered, and the plane is diverted.

That's exactly what happened with Hamid Hayat. He mistakenly was allowed to board that plane. Once the plane was airborne, his presence on that plane was determined, and it was rerouted to Tokyo, where he was pulled off the plane by the FBI and interviewed. ... He was interviewed by the FBI in Tokyo and was allowed to return on his journey to the United States following that interview. ...

Because [the FBI] wanted to talk to him, or because they didn't think he was a danger anymore?

Well, I think the fact that they did interview him extensively within a very short period of time after coming back in the United States shows that there was a concern, that we wanted to find out what this guy was up to. ...

Do you really believe he went to a terrorist training camp?

Yes, sir. I do.

Do you know where it is?

We believe it's right outside of Balakot, Pakistan. The jury was presented with satellite photographs of that camp. ...

... And you're telling me that nobody from the U.S. government or at least the Department of Justice tried to go to this camp to see if it was there, physically, on the ground?

I have no personal knowledge of such an attempt. I cannot affirmatively state to you that it did not happen. I have no personal knowledge of whether it did or not. ...

Why wouldn't you do that?

The investigative side of this case, as it is with all these terrorism matters, is predominantly a responsibility of the FBI, and they do that in conjunction with our office. In the early days after June of '05, we, on this end of things, tried to push a little bit and see what we could determine. At the end of the day, we were unable to proceed any further down those types of routes based on guidance from Washington.

Because the FBI does conduct investigations in Pakistan.

Well, all I can do is tell you what I just told you, which is what I know. ...

In addition to that, we were able to present to the jury these satellite images that we described, which match in great detail exactly what he said, both in terms of his initial visit to that camp in 2001, as well as the subsequent ones in the 2003-2004 time frame. So certainly those things demonstrate, and clearly did for the jury, that there is a terrorist training camp there. ...

Do you know Jim Wedick

Yes, I do.

Who is Jim Wedick?

Jim Wedick is a retired FBI agent from the Sacramento Field Division, and he's more recently worked as a private investigator for defense attorneys, most noteworthy being here on the Lodi case. ...

Is he credible?

Here's what I know. I know that Jim Wedick has not spent a minute of his investigative life as an FBI agent working on terrorism cases, so it is very disconcerting to me that he would posture himself in such a public way as an expert on terrorism cases and interviews in terrorism cases. ...

Mr. Wedick told us that ... when he reviewed the tape of the interrogation in this case of both Umer and Hamid Hayat, he was shocked. ... He was shocked at the nature of the interrogations, at the nature of the informant's conversations with Hamid that were recorded -- because they were leading, because in the case of the informant they were threatening on occasion, and because it was clear that these people were telling all kinds of different stories to please.

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.

When you read Umer Hayat's various descriptions in his interrogation of where the training camp was or what training camp he had gone to, you didn't think he just wanted to go home and he wanted his son to come home -- that he was trying to please?

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 --

The ninja turtles and the high ceiling --

Yeah. 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, who 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.

In addition to that, the sequence of events on the interview process is relevant. Number one, Mr. Hayat -- Umer Hayat -- denied, denied, denied that his son had attended a terrorist training camp. Then as soon as the agents played for him the clip of Hamid's interview where he admitted he had gone to the terrorist training camp, he folded like a house of cards and said, "Yes, my son did do that." So I think there is inherent credibility to his statement that his son did in fact attend that terrorist training camp.

It's also relevant, I would note, that Hamid Hayat's jury did not hear Umer Hayat's statement because of the rules of evidence. That's not allowed under the rules. So it's not a circumstance where Hamid's Hayat jury used Umer Hayat's statement about Hamid to convict Hamid.

But the real targets here were the imams, right?

From the beginning of the investigation, that's correct. ...

And in trying to make a case on the imams, the agents convinced Umer Hayat that if he wanted his son to go home and he wanted himself to be free of this, the way he can help himself is to wear a wire, right, and get the imams to talk?

That's correct.

At this point, they've been in an interrogation for apparently 12 hours or so.

That's right.

This is what I don't understand, in terms of the new paradigm: Wouldn't you want to conduct an undercover investigation with someone wearing a wire in a way that you could actually get a response from the target? ...

I think the circumstances of the contact between Umer and the imam in that circumstance are what matters. ... The context in which the contact was made was that Umer was to go to the imam and say, "Look, my son's in trouble. What do I do?" kind of a thing. It's sort of more of an instantaneous kind of a thing, based on the circumstances of the contact with the Hayats and the interview with the Hayats, to strike right then and see what could come of it. ...

But I thought that the idea of this new paradigm was to take someone like Umer Hayat, who's peripherally involved but has access to the actors, and use them as an informant, get them to continue the infiltration. [I thought] that we were more interested in gathering intelligence than we are in prosecution.

Well, the reality of the matter was that we knew at that point in time that Hamid Hayat was going to the county jail and was going be charged. So as soon as that became public, it's hard for me to believe that Mohammad Adil Khan is going to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with Umer Hayat that could potentially expose any of his own involvement in this circumstance once he knows that at a minimum, Hamid Hayat has been found out by the government and has been arrested and has been charged with lying to the FBI about his attendance at a terrorist training camp.

So you were going to roll both guys by the morning anyway, so you might as well try to do your undercover operation as quickly as possible?

The thought was that there's a window of opportunity here that's going to close quite rapidly, and we've got to do this now or we'll probably never have this opportunity again. That's what drove the process. ...

So my understanding is that after he failed to get the imams to say anything incriminating, Umer came back to Sacramento and was arrested here.

That's correct.

The question that came up in the community when we did some interviews was Umer Hayat, an ice cream truck driver, a man afraid for the future of his son, goes out and does what the government asks him to do; he comes back and gets arrested. That's not a way to get a lot of people to cooperate with you.

Well, I certainly can understand that sentiment and why people would feel that way. We have a mission to protect American citizens from further acts of terrorism. In this circumstance, we had a man whose son had admitted attending a terrorist training camp. That man had lied repeatedly to the FBI about that. ... It's a matter of you make decisions, and the decision was made to arrest him, and we moved ahead.

Again, this is one of James Wedick's criticisms of what went on here: You had the imams in custody, but you had no intent, really, of charging them criminally, right?

At that point in time, we retained the belief and the hope that we could establish a criminal case against the imams. As time went along, we determined that that was simply not going to happen. Ultimately the decision was made to deport them rather than criminally prosecute them. …

Let me make sure I understand. The imams are under electronic surveillance and apparently physical surveillance starting somewhere in 2002, ... [and] in all that surveillance there wasn't information that you could make into an indictment here in the United States against these imams? ...

The prosecutor's burden at the end of the day is we must convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, and that jury must be unanimous. I'm not saying that we did not acquire any information during the course of that investigation. What I am saying is that the cumulative total of that evidence did not rise to proof beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury.

So you couldn't indict the imams based on anything they did or you had collected at that point.

That's correct. ...

So you have your two big fish, if you will, and you have to let them go?

Well, there's a difference between "let them go" right back out onto the street in Lodi as opposed to sending them back to Pakistan. Ultimately that was the decision that was made. It's also important to put into context what the deportation meant, because, as we've stated here several times this morning, it was our belief that Khan intended to establish a madrassa much like his father's madrassa: He's going to recruit people; he's going to have vehicles by which to send students at that madrassa to Pakistan for nefarious purposes. And by deporting him, he no longer has the opportunity to do those things. ...

You know that there are members of the community, including a rabbi, who say that both of these gentlemen, both of these imams were ecumenical figures who helped bring the community together. ... Are you saying that this was all a farce, a false front?

Well, I don't think that anyone who was coming to this country to establish a madrassa in the mirror image of a very radical madrassa in Pakistan is going to do anything to draw attention to themselves by getting up and making fiery anti-American or anti-Western speeches. You know, I don't have any evidence of this; I can't go to court tomorrow and provide evidence of this. But certainly a very strong indicator to us was that this was a cover -- these outreach efforts that you've just described -- as a way of avoiding any undue attention being brought to him in that community while he was undertaking his plan to establish this madrassa. ...

Mr. Wedick says that [when] he joined the defense that he was privy to some of the negotiations between the defense and the prosecution. And in discussions ... at these conferences he was told: "We don't need the evidence. We have hysteria -- the terrorism hysteria -- on our side, for the jury." ...

No one ever made that statement in my presence throughout the entire time that this prosecution took place. And I can state in no uncertain terms that we, as prosecutors, would be violating our most basic oath if we brought a prosecution based on hysteria rather than the evidence. We would simply not do that.

[And yet] the case begins with the statement "Al Qaeda in Lodi," which you now say was a mistake and you'd rather not have had that happen. But that caused international headlines. I mean, there were terrorism experts on cable television saying this would be a first, that Al Qaeda has actually been found inside the United States, much less in the Central Valley. The case got included in the director of national intelligence's [John Negroponte's] assessment of homegrown terrorism in America delivered to Congress just before the trial started. ... So there is public influence that takes place -- you know, publicity -- that would influence a jury, right?

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. ...

... It is unfortunate that that term was used, but it was a very fluid situation. We had, at least in some parts of those interviews, discussions about Al Qaeda and potential links with the Hayats. But we probably should not have used that term, because what we ultimately determined [was] ... that that was not a path that we would pursue in terms of ultimately presenting a case to a jury.

I do regret it from the perspective of the potential for too much concern by the public in this circumstance, because in the post-9/11 world, you say "Al Qaeda," and your average person on the street has a certain connotation in their mind's eye, and I regret that. ...

So if I get this accurately, there has not been nor is there an Al Qaeda cell in Lodi, Calif.?

That's correct.

... So if this case was not Al Qaeda in Lodi, what is it?

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, which has a relatively large Pakistani community for a town of that size, to establish a madrassa to serve as a recruiting ground to essentially, eventually, dispatch young men over to Pakistan or other countries in the Middle East for training with the potential to come back here and do some very bad things. ...

In this new paradigm, why wouldn't you watch all of that so you could, in a sense, infiltrate the jihad in order to find out what's going on, since you were so on top of the situation? ...

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. We have absolutely accomplished that in this circumstance. There will be no madrassa in Lodi. There will be nothing coming out of those two imams in the Lodi community. Anything that was taking shape down there is now not going to happen, which is the ultimate objective. ...

I guess the question that's been raised is, you have a junior high school dropout whose English is not great, who appears to want to please both the informant and whomever has him in custody, who comes in with his dad of his own free will, and his confession is pretty loose.

Well, you have to remember that 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. So that, I think, provides a very good insight into his thought process and where he's coming [from] with these things. ...

In addition to that, he talks repeatedly in recorded conversations with a confidential informant about how his heart belongs to Pakistan, his admiration for Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and essentially espousing a hatred for America.

The other thing, too, that I think is significant is ... the London bombers all really, in a very general sense, match the description of Hamid Hayat: native-born to the U.K., living in Pakistani communities in that country, had recently been to Pakistan and had returned, ... and there was a charismatic religious figure who had come into the community and gotten these guys fired up. The next thing you know, they're doing what they did in London. So it's not as though he's in a vacuum all by himself in terms of his ancestry, his beliefs, his espoused willingness to do things, his hatred for America, and ultimately his confession that he went to that country and attended that camp.

And Umer Hayat -- is he dangerous?

In and of himself, I don't believe that Umer Hayat is dangerous. What really matters with Umer Hayat is more his family connections, his ability to travel back and forth, his ability to facilitate things, like trying to take big amounts of cash over to Pakistan to be used for who knows what purpose -- those kinds of things. ...

... Could you give us a sense of what kind of resources, what kind of money was spent on this case?

I can't put a dollar amount on it, but we spent a lot of time and effort on this thing. On the front end, predominantly the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force [JTTF] threw a lot of bodies at this investigation. ... We didn't know exactly what we had, how far it was going to go, where we were going to wind up with this thing, but they did devote considerable resources to this.

... [It] involved at least one informant, wiretaps, surveillance -- that's expensive. ... The informant's overall expenses and salary, apparently, were around a quarter of a million alone.

Well, what I can tell you is that by the time we got done with the trial, we certainly were into the millions of dollars. Yes, I can say that affirmatively. ...

So a lot of your resources are caught up in counterterrorism.

Yes. …

[Is this the best use of your resources?]

The president and the attorney general, both of [whom] I have served under, have articulated directly to the U.S. attorneys on multiple occasions that our number one mission is to prevent further acts of terrorism here in the United States. When the president and the attorney general set that as the number one priority, then by gosh, it is the number one priority, and the resources that are necessary to accomplish that mission are allocated to it. The FBI has done that, and our office has done that.

I would point to the fact that we did thwart what we believe to have been an effort to further radical Islamic war against the United States through this prosecution. One of the things that we struggle with is that no buildings were blown up, no people were killed, so how do you know?

Well, the bottom line is we never want to get to the position where we do have buildings blown up and people killed. If we've got legitimate, credible cases to go forward on, then that's what we do. That's exactly what we've done in this case. I would offer the observation that this was done in a public courtroom with all of the constitutional protections afforded to both defendants throughout. The media was present throughout. There's no mystery or no secret behind-the-door kind of a thing with this case. This case was done in all of the finest traditions of the American legal system, and a jury, at the end of the day, found beyond a reasonable doubt that Hamid Hayat went to a terrorist training camp. ...

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posted oct. 10, 2006

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