There was the professor of Islamic studies who testified that the verse Hamid kept in his wallet--"Oh Allah, we place you at their throats, and we seek refuge in you from their evil"--may have been the prayer of a traveler seeking divine protection. More likely, though, it was the supplication carried by "fanatics and extremists." Finally, there was the Defense Department analyst who testified that satellite pictures taken in northeastern Pakistan revealed a camp near Balakot that "likely" matched one of the camps described by Hamid.
It was all rather murky, and son and father weren't about to testify to clear things up. The trial, it seemed, would turn on the confession that really didn't become a confession until the early morning hours of June 5, 2005. That's when agent Tim Harrison became Hamid's main inquisitor.
"So jihad means that you fight and you assault something?"
"Give me an example of a target. A building?"
"I'll say no buildings. I'll say people."
"OK, people. Yeah. Fair enough. People in buildings . . . I'm trying to get details about plans over here."
"They didn't give us no plans."
"Did they give you money?"
"Targets in the U.S?" the agent asked again.
"You mean like buildings?"
"Yeah, buildings," the agent nodded. "Sacramento or San Francisco?"
"I'll say Los Angeles and San Francisco."
"I'll say finance and things like that."
"Hospitals?" the agent suggested.
"Maybe, I'm sure."
"Who ran the camp?"
"Maybe my grandfather."
"Al Qaeda? Al Qaeda runs?"
"I'll say they run the camp. . . . Yeah, that's what I'll say."
What were the jurors thinking? Wedick wondered. If he wouldn't be able to tell them exactly what he thought--that this was the "most derelict and juvenile investigation" he had ever seen the FBI put its name to--he could at least take the stand and point out the gibberish in the interrogation. He could at least tell them about the care he took in Shrimpscam, how he had prepared a single year for one interview and got an informant to cooperate after he meticulously lined the interrogation room with giant surveillance photos of the guy accepting a sizable campaign check.
It was far from certain, though, that the court would agree to Wedick being an expert witness. Up until now, Judge Burrell had shown something akin to belligerence when it came to the defense attorneys. Whenever he ruled against them, he did so with an impatience that bordered on browbeating. And on the matter of Wedick testifying, prosecutor Deitch had filed nearly 100 pages of motions to keep the former agent off the stand. He argued that Wedick had "grossly overstated" his experience in counterterrorism and that his musings would amount to "needless" cumulative evidence, the legal equivalent of piling on.
Johnny Griffin, representing the father, stood up to offer several reasons why Wedick was needed to illuminate key shortcomings. To no one's surprise, Burrell told him to sit back down. "I know his proposed testimony," he snarled at Griffin. "You can go on to the next issue."
Outside the courtroom, Wedick wondered how the same government dismissing his credentials could have failed to produce a single piece of corroborating evidence in four years of sleuthing that cost taxpayers millions of dollars and unearthed a cherry packer and an ice cream vendor who drove around town playing "Pop Goes the Weasel." "To see the government's power from this side of the fence is a strange thing for me," he conceded. "What we're doing to these Muslims is the same thing we did to the Japanese in the 1940s. It's the same fear and the same overreaction. Instead of internment camps, we're sending them to prison."
With Wedick silenced, both sides closed and the cases against father and son went to two separate juries that had sat side by side for two months.
The Pakistani Muslims of Lodi watched and waited, huddled in the shade of the mosque, heads down as they wheeled out 40-pound boxes of fresh kosher chicken from the Pak India market--the same store the government's informant had placed at the center of a ring that was sending funds to Osama bin Laden. "This little place can't even support one damn family," the storekeeper said. "How can it support Osama bin Laden?"