“Due to the passage of time, the government now moves this Court to dismiss, in the interest of justice, the indictments in this case,” the office of U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott declared Friday. That meant that the U.S. Attorney would not seek a new trial for Hamid Hayat of Lodi, California, convicted on terrorist charges in 2006.
“There aren’t words to express how relieved we are that Hamid is finally going to be truly free,” said Sacramento Valley CAIR executive director Basim Elkarra in a statement. “An innocent man spent nearly 14 years in prison, a family was torn apart and an entire community was left traumatized due to prosecution taking advantage of anti-Muslim, post-9/11 hysteria.” As the U.S. Attorney also indicated, the CAIR boss was overlooking a few realities.
On July 30, 2019, the District Court entered an order, “vacating defendant Hamid Hayat’s conviction and sentence, which the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had earlier affirmed.” The Ninth Circuit is the most liberal appeal court in the nation.
In 2006, federal judge Garland E. Burrell sentenced Hamid Hayat to 24 years in prison for, as the U.S. Department of Justice explained, “a series of terrorism charges related to his 2003/2004 attendance at a jihadi training camp in Pakistan and his 2005 return to the United States with the intent to wage violent jihad.”
As prosecutors charged, the man with “a jihadi heart and a jihadi mind” intended to target hospitals, banks and grocery stores. Hayat boasted about giving money to Sipah-e-Sahaba, a group that Pakistan declared a terrorist organization. The case was one of the first major terrorism prosecutions in the wake of 9/11, and the Ninth Circuit upheld the sentence in 2013. The conviction was not vacated until 2019, and the District Court did not find fault with any facts cited in the case.
They did find, as the February 14 statement explains, “that Hayat’s privately-retained defense counsel, Wazhma Mojaddidi, provided him with Constitutionally ineffective representation during his 2006 criminal trial for providing material support to terrorists and making false statements to government officials between April 2003 and June 2005.”
Wahzma Mojaddidi, formerly a local CAIR president, was the attorney Hamid and CAIR wanted. As Mojaddidi told the Sacramento Bee last year, “I passionately represented Hamid Hayat as a young attorney and worked with a great team of lawyers and investigators in his defense.” She denied blame for losing the case.
CAIR and the Muslim Legal Fund of America went judge shopping and found Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes, a relative newcomer to California’s Eastern District, Barnes and inexperienced in cases dealing with terrorism. Barnes allowed Hayat family members to testify by video from Pakistan.
For prosecutors, that raised questions about how the witnesses would be sworn in, and the consequences if they lied. Barnes set aside two nights of testimony using an encrypted federal court videoconferencing system and an Urdu interpreter. All Pakistani witnesses testified that Hamid Hayat was a great guy and could not have attended a terrorist training camp.
In January, 2019, Judge Barnes submitted a 116-page recommendation that the conviction of Hamid Hayat be vacated, based on the same negative performance review of Hayat’s attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi. Following the ruling, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott told reporters, “It has consistently been our position that Mr. Hayat received effective representation at trial and that his conviction by a jury, subsequently affirmed by the 9th Circuit, is completely valid.”
Last July, Judge Burrell, an appointee of President George W. Bush, vacated Hayat’s conviction. This was the same judge who sentenced Hayat to 24 years in prison, a conviction upheld by the liberal Ninth Circuit now dismissed “due to the passage of time.”
This was the same McGregor Scott on record that the 2006 proceeding against Hayat was “a righteous prosecution and a just result.” The same U.S. Attorney now dismisses the conviction “in the interest of justice.” Any observer might not think so.
CAIR’s Basim Elkarra contends Hayat is “an innocent man,” when the judge only ruled that he had an incompetent attorney. Like Carlo in The Godfather, Hayat claims innocence, which should insult the intelligence of any observer and make them very angry.
Elkarra also invoked “anti-Muslim post-9/11 hysteria,” and that too deserves some clarification. After the passage of time, Rep. Ilham Omar describes it as “some people did something.”
“Some people” were all radical Islamic terrorists, and America’s vaunted “intelligence community” failed to uncover their plot, much less stop it. On September 11, 2001 the jihadis hijacked airliners and crashed them into buildings killing some 3,000 people, including a friend of this writer. That attack demanded a swift and proportionate response but a spineless legacy president declined to act and instead prattled on about a religion of peace.
After 9/11, the nation was out to stop terrorist attacks before they happened, and Hamid Hayat’s case was one of those. His 2006 conviction, upheld by the Ninth Circuit has now been dismissed “due to the passage of time,” and supposedly “in the interests of justice.” If anybody thought it was no justice, and no peace, it would be hard to blame them.