A federal appeals court has upheld the 2006 conviction of a Hamid Hayat, a Pakistani Stockton man convicted of providing material support to terrorists and lying to authorities.
Hayat’s case caused deep misgivings. A paid FBI informant taped him for months. During that time, Hayat didn’t do anything illegal. But he bragged he’d been trained at a terrorist camp in Pakistan.
Under interrogation, however, his description of the camp was so fantastic a reasonable person might conclude he was making it up.
This month marks 10 years since America made one of its biggest mistakes and launched the Iraq war over weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. When you ask yourself, how could we have been so wrong? The answer is clear: fear. 9/11 worked. It terrorised us into a heightened sense of danger. We over-reacted.
Did local authorities make the same mistake with Hayat? The appeals court ruling was split, with one judge dissenting. But the majority found no legal reason to strike down Hayat’s conviction. People who see the world in black and white are now free to consider Hayat a terrorist and feel no qualms about his imprisonment. People who see the gray areas will always wonder if he was railroaded in an era of fear.