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FBI: Al Qaeda plot possibly uncovered

'Trained on how to kill Americans'

The FBI's Keith Slotter speaks about the case Wednesday.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

LODI, California (CNN) -- Authorities said Wednesday they believe a father and son arrested in this quaint northern California community were involved in a larger al Qaeda plan to carry out jihad, or holy war, against the United States.

"We believe through our investigation that various individuals connected to al Qaeda have been operating in the Lodi area in various capacities," FBI special agent in charge Keith Slotter told reporters.

He said those included "individuals who have received terrorist training abroad, with the specific intent to initiate a terrorist attack in the United States and to harm Americans and our institutions."

Slotter said, however, no evidence has been found of specific plans, targets or timing of a possible attack. He said more arrests were possible.

Authorities earlier this week arrested the father and son, identified as 47-year-old Umer Hayat and 22-year-old Hamid Hayat from Lodi, on charges they lied to FBI investigators. The son is to be arraigned Friday.

They have not been charged with terrorist involvement, although a criminal complaint alleges the son attended an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan.

Two others in Lodi -- Muslim leaders Muhammed Adil Khan and Shabbir Ahmed -- have been arrested on immigration violations, but authorities have not elaborated on a possible connection between the Hayats and them.

An affidavit describing the alleged activities of the Hayats was unsealed Tuesday evening by the federal court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento. Lodi is 35 miles south of Sacramento.

In the affidavit, the younger Hayat admitted he attended the al Qaeda-supported camp and that during his weapons training, photographs of "various high-ranking U.S. political figures, including President Bush, would be pasted on their targets."

Sacramento attorney Johnny Griffin III, who represents the father, acknowledged the affidavit is "very alarming." But, he said, "we must keep in mind they are not charged with any terrorist activity. They are only charged with making false statements."

Both Hayats are U.S. citizens; Hamid Hayat was born in California, the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, the younger Hayat confessed to attending the camp in Pakistan, which he said was run by al Qaeda, in 2003-2004.

He said he had gone to Pakistan ostensibly to attend a madrassa, or school, run by his grandfather.

According to immigration records, the affidavit says, Hayat left the United States for Pakistan on April 19, 2003, and arrived on April 21. His records show he departed Pakistan on May 27, 2005.

Hayat denied attending the camp to an FBI agent in Japan, where his flight from South Korea to San Francisco was diverted May 29 when his name appeared on a "no-fly" list.

Hayat was allowed to continue his flight to San Francisco based on his denial.

His no-fly status was changed in Japan to "selectee," Slotter said, meaning more information was needed to determine whether he should be on the no-fly list.

Asked why Hamid Hayat was on a no-fly list, Charles DeMore, special agent in charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to answer.

The FBI interviewed Hamid Hayat again on June 3, and again he denied attending the jihadist camp, according to the affidavit. Umer Hayat was interviewed the same day and said the same thing, the document says.

Affidavit details

The following day, Hamid Hayat "voluntarily appeared at the Sacramento office of the FBI to take a polygraph examination that had been requested by the FBI," the affidavit says. With him was his father.

The affidavit says the polygraph found "his answers to the relevant questions ... indicative of deception."

After two more hours of questioning "Hamid admitted that he had in fact attended a jihadist training camp in Pakistan" for six months.

Hayat described his training and said he learned "how to kill Americans" and selected the United States as the turf for his jihadi mission, the affidavit says.

In a separate interview, his father not only denied the existence of such a camp but also his son's participation in one, the affidavit says.

But, the document says, after seeing the video of his son's confession, Umer Hayat confirmed his son's story and revealed that he paid for his flight to Pakistan and provided him with $100 per month.

Umer Hayat provided details about the madrassa his son attended as well as the camp and others, which he told agents he was "invited" to visit and "assigned a driver who drove him from camp to camp."

The elder Hayat said the camp was run by Maulana Fazlur Rehman -- believed to be Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, who has long been suspected of running training camps in Pakistan.

Khalil, a Hezbi mujahedeen, has on several occasions been detained and questioned by Pakistani authorities.

In 1998, Khalil was the only mujahedeen leader to hold a news conference after the United States fired cruise missiles at a training camp in an attempt to kill Osama bin Laden.

At the time, Khalil said more than a dozen of his people died and vowed revenge against the United States.

Two and a half months ago, Khalil told a media contact he had cancer.

Islamic leaders held

The two local Islamic leaders -- Khan and Ahmed -- were detained on immigration charges and will face an immigration hearing, FBI Special Agent John Cauthen said

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the two were in custody on "administrative immigration violations for violating their religious worker visas" and no date has been set for their hearing.

Law enforcement sources told CNN investigators were looking to see if the two could have acted as a sort of "conduit" between terror groups and persons in the United States, although so far no charges have been made to that effect.

At least one of the Islamic leaders overstayed his visa, the sources said.

Khan is the former imam of the Lodi Muslim Mosque and Ahmed is the current imam, according to Lodi News-Sentinel religion reporter Ross Farrow, who has interviewed both men in the past.

Khan has been working to establish the Farooqia Islamic Center, an Islamic charter school for young children in Lodi, Farrow said.

Khan condemned the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in the days following, Farrow said.

Several months later, Khan joined the leaders of local Christian churches and a Jewish synagogue to issue a Declaration of Peace condemning terrorism and stressing the common origins of each religion, Farrow said.

CNN's Nic Robertson and Kelli Arena contributed to this report.

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