A judge refused to set bail Tuesday for a Muslim cleric from Pakistan who faces deportation and has been accused of planning to set up a camp to train followers to kill Americans.
Shabbir Ahmed, 39, is only charged with overstaying his visa while he was heading a mosque in Lodi. The allegation about the terrorist camp came from an FBI agent’s testimony during the immigration hearing.
“Do I believe he is planning a terror attack?” FBI agent Gary Schaaf said. “That’s some of the information that has been provided to us.”
He testified that Ahmed and others were in the fledgling stages of opening a terrorism training camp in Lodi, a town of 62,000 about 30 miles south of Sacramento.
Schaaf did not say what type of terrorist attacks were planned, but he said Ahmed was acting as an intermediary for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists. The agent refused to say whether Ahmed was a member of a terror group, saying that information was classified.
Ahmed’s lawyer said his client was not a terrorist and that the judge blindly took the word of the FBI agent.
“Immigration judges don’t want to second-guess the government,” defense lawyer Saad Ahmad said.
‘A flight risk and a danger’
Immigration Judge Anthony Murry declined to offer Ahmed bail as he fights the immigration charge. “I am compelled to find you are both a flight risk and a danger to the community,” he said.
The judge set an Oct. 24 hearing in which Ahmed can challenge his detention and immigration charge.
Ahmed was one of five men connected to the mosque arrested in June. The testimony was the first time federal agents have linked the five Lodi detainees.
Hamid Hayat, 22, who faces terrorism-related criminal charges in Sacramento federal court, told interrogators he was to receive orders from Ahmed, Schaaf testified.
Hayat is charged with lying to the FBI about attending a terrorism camp in Pakistan in 2003 and 2004. His father is charged with lying when he denied his son had attended such a camp.