Hamid Hayat was convicted in April of last year of one count of providing material support to terrorists and three counts of lying to the F.B.I. He faced up to 39 years in federal prison. The judge noted his lack of prior criminal offenses and sentenced him to 24 years. His father Umer, who was also charged with lying to the F.B.I, said he’s confident Hamid will be released on appeal.
“He is innocent. I am his father. He is innocent.”
Federal prosecutors say Hayat attended terrorist training camps and returned to the U.S. to commit violent jihad. The case hinged on a videotaped confession where Hayat said he’d attended such camps in Pakistan. His attorneys said the confessions came after hours of exhausting questioning.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California McGregor Scott noted the sentence came on the eve of the sixth anniversary of 9/11. He says the investigation shows the new world that exists following those terrorist attacks.
“It is because of prosecutions like this that we have prevented another attack against the United States…”
Scott says he has reached out to members of the Muslim community in the Central Valley and considers them allies in the war against radical Islamic terrorism. But Basim Elkarra with the Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized the judge and says the government failed to provide enough evidence to make its case. He says the outcome of Hayat’s trial carries a larger meaning.
“I think the government sent a clear message to the Muslim community. That you do not speak to an F.B.I. agent unless you have an attorney present.”
Hayat’s legal team is appealing the conviction. He also has a new attorney who immediately filed a motion to vacate the convictions and the sentence. He says he’ll argue-- in part-- that his client did not have adequate counsel during trial,