A California man was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison for attending an Al Qaeda terrorist training camp in Pakistan and plotting to attack targets in the United States.
Hamid Hayat, a US citizen who turned 25 on Monday, was convicted in April, 2006, of providing material support to terrorists and lying about it to FBI agents. Prosecutors said he intended to attack hospitals, banks, grocery stores and government buildings in California.
Federal Judge Garland Burrell Jr said Hayat had “returned to the United States ready and willing to wage violent jihad when directed to do so.”
Burrell said he was skeptical that Hayat would ever renounce violence and his crimes deserved the toughest punishment, but he cited Hayat’s lack of a previous criminal record and other factors in handing down a lesser sentence--about halfway between what prosecutors and defense attorneys had argued for. The defense had sought a sentence of 15 years.
Hayat, shackled and clean-shaven since his trial, showed no visible reaction when the sentence was read out on Monday, and his family sat quietly in the back of the courtroom. Outside the courthouse, his father lashed out at the prosecution.
“We were expecting justice. We did not get justice. My son is innocent,” said Hamid Hayat’s father, Umer, who also had been caught up in the case until a federal jury deadlocked on whether he had lied about his son’s attendance at the camp.
Hamid Hayat’s lawyer, Dennis Riordan, vowed to appeal. He also filed a motion Monday asking Burrell to toss out the entire conviction because Hayat’s original trial lawyer had never before argued a criminal case and had a conflict of interest when she represented him.
US Attorney McGregor Scott held up the prosecution and sentencing as a shining example of why the country has not been attacked since.
“We will utilise every legal tool available to us to ensure we, our children, and our children’s children, never have to relive the horror of that day,” he said.