Five months after they were barred from returning to the United States despite being citizens, Hamid Hayat’s uncle and cousin returned to their Lodi home Monday.
Muhammad Ismail, 45, and his son, Jaber, 19, declined to comment on the advice of their attorney, Julia Harumi Mass, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
“I’m happy they’re home,” Jaber Ismail’s older brother, Usama Ismail said.
Muhammad Ismail is a naturalized citizen and Jaber Ismail was born in the United States. They had traveled to Pakistan but were stopped when they tried to return home in April, as federal juries were deciding the fate of Hayat and his father, Umer Hayat.
Hamid Hayat, now 24, was convicted of providing material support to terrorists and lying to the FBI. Jurors hung on lying charges against Umer Hayat, 48, and he ultimately pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of lying about the amount of money he had taken to Pakistan.
The Ismails had headed from Pakistan to Hong Kong and were trying to board a flight to San Francisco when FBI agents stopped them and ultimately turned them away.
“I never imagined that the country I was born in would stop me from coming home for five months and separate me from my family, especially when I was not even charged with a crime,” Jaber Ismail said in a statement.
Agents questioned Jaber Ismail, one of the young men Hamid Hayat had named during his own FBI interviews before he was arrested in June 2005. The allegations were vague and came hours into the interviews, which defense attorneys and a retired FBI agent said were coerced.
No charges were filed against the Ismails, but when Jaber Ismail refused to take a polygraph test the two were barred from returning to the U.S.
Mass filed a complaint with the federal government, and last month the Department of Homeland Security changed their status.
They arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York on Sunday afternoon and then caught a connecting flight to San Francisco, according to Mass.
Mass said the government never told the men the specific reasons they couldn’t return home, the nature of the allegations or what they wanted to question them about. The men had listed Umer Hayat as a contact on their passport, she said.
“I have missed my wife and young children very much,” Muhammad Ismail said in a statement. “My wish is that this never happens to anyone else.”