When FBI agents first came knocking on Naseem Khan’s door more than four years ago, they were looking for someone possibly involved in a multi-million dollar money laundering scheme.
Agents looked at his computer that day in Bend, Ore., and before long, Khan was telling them he’d seen Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man at least 90 times in Lodi — attending thrice-daily prayers at the local Muslim mosque.
Soon the agents had recruited Khan and given him the nickname of “Wildcat,” though he would have preferred to be called “Max.” He infiltrated Lodi’s Muslim community and, for his work, he has been paid $228,916l.70 in salary since late 2001.
Now he is the government’s star witness in the trial of a Lodi father and son accused of terrorism ties.
Khan, 32, told a federal jury today that he’d become close friends with 23-year-old Hamid Hayat, but that he also talked a few times with the young man’s father.
What Umer Hayat, 48, didn’t know was that at least two of those conversations had been recorded. The elder Hayat sat silently in a Sacramento courtroom, listening as a translator summarized most of the brief conversations.
At one point during an Aug. 20, 2003, conversation, Khan told Umer Hayat a tale about how he ran a huge computer system and could secretly send $100,000 a day to Pakistan. Umer Hayat agreed to send $4,000, but the destination isn’t mentioned in a transcript of the translation. Khan testified that the money never changed hands.
Khan also talked to the elder Hayat about his son, and the young man’s laziness and penchant for lying. Hamid Hayat had blown a job opportunity, and he once boasted that his uncle was the king of Pakistan, Khan told Umer Hayat.
So both Khan and Umer Hayat encouraged the young man to go to a madrassa, or religious school, in Pakistan. Hamid Hayat, the informant said, wanted to go “train.”
The definition of “training” is a matter of debate between the prosecution and the defense.
When proseuctor Laura Ferris asked Khan what the word meant, he replied, “jihadi training camp.”
Defense attorney Johnny Griffin III, in turn, asked if a madrassa is a “school where you receive religious training.
Khan, who frequently said he didn’t remember things and couldn’t answer questions, quickly answered Griffin: “Religious education.”
One point nobody objected to was the fact that the words “terrorist” and “camp” were never mentioned in the recorded conversations with Umer Hayat.
Umer Hayat, an ice cream truck driver and father of four, is charged with lying to agents about his knowledge of his son’s alleged attendance at camps, and of knowing about their existence.
Hamid Hayat is charged with lying to the FBI about his alleged camp attendance, and is also charged with providing material support to terorists by attending the Pakistan camps.
The father and son are being tried together but have separate juries. Hamid Hayat’s jury did not hear today’s testimony. That jury returns Wednesday.