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Monday, October 02, 2006

Another day in Bush's America

Be glad you're home, subjects

Wait Ends for Father and Son Exiled by F.B.I. Terror Inquiry

Published: October 2, 2006

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 1 — Two American citizens of Pakistani descent returned to the United States on Sunday, five months after they were denied permission to fly home to California unless they submitted to an interrogation by F.B.I. terrorism investigators.

The men, Muhammad Ismail, 45, and his son, Jaber, 19, of the Northern California farming town of Lodi, returned from Pakistan on a flight that landed at Kennedy Airport in New York around 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. They were scheduled to arrive in California on Sunday night or early Monday on a connecting flight, their lawyer said Sunday.

The Ismails are an uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat, a Lodi man who was convicted in April in federal court of providing material support to terrorists. Mr. Hayat told investigators he had attended a terrorism training camp during a long stay in Pakistan and intended to carry out unspecified attacks in the United States. Mr. Hayat’s father, Umer, was convicted on a lesser charge of lying to investigators about the amount of cash he carried to Pakistan on a 2003 trip, but a jury deadlocked on terrorism charges.

The Ismails were not charged in the case. They attributed their predicament to being related to the Hayats, the only people to have been charged in what federal prosecutors have described as an investigation into possible terrorism links in Lodi.

Julia Harumi Mass of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, who is representing the Ismails, said the pair had no terrorism connections. In a complaint in August to the Department of Homeland Security, she urged the authorities to explain any accusations against them and why they had been denied permission to fly home.

Legal experts said the matter raised questions about balancing terrorism investigations against American citizens’ right to travel freely without having been charged with a crime or detained as a suspect.

On Sept. 6, nearly a month after Ms. Mass’s complaint, the Homeland Security Department notified her in a letter and telephone call that unspecified records had been modified “to address any delay or denial boarding” the pair had encountered. Ms. Mass said she took that to mean they were cleared to fly, and the Ismails arranged financing and bought tickets home.

posted by Steve @ 12:28:00 AM

12:28:00 AM

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