Return from Pakistan blocked for relatives of terror suspects

NY Times:

Federal authorities have prevented two relatives of a father and son convicted recently in a terrorism-related case from returning home to California from Pakistan unless they agree to be interviewed by the F.B.I.

It is unclear whether the men, Muhammad Ismail, 45, and his son Jaber, 18, have a direct connection to the terrorism case or if they have been caught up in circumstance.

...

The United States attorney, McGregor W. Scott, reiterated a comment he had made to The San Francisco Chronicle, which reported Saturday about the Ismails’ troubles.

“They’ve been given the opportunity to meet with the F.B.I. over there and answer a few questions, and they’ve declined to do that,” Mr. Scott said through a spokeswoman, Mary Wenger.

The Ismails live in Lodi, Calif., a small farming town south of Sacramento, where their relatives Umer Hayat and his son, Hamid, were arrested last summer as part of what federal prosecutors said was an investigation into terrorist links.

...

The Ismails discovered they were on the federal government’s no-fly list of people not allowed to enter the United States after they were refused permission to board a connecting flight in Hong Kong on April 21; they had been trying to return to California after several years in Pakistan, said Julia Harumi Mass of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, who is representing them.

...

Jaber Ismail, who was born in the United States, was questioned by the F.B.I. at the American Embassy in Islamabad, but his father, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, declined to participate, Ms. Mass said. Jaber Ismail has refused further interrogation without a lawyer and has declined to take a polygraph test; Ms. Mass said the men were told these conditions had to be met before the authorities would consider letting them back into the United States.

She said the men had not been involved in terrorist activities; Jaber Ismail, she said, had gone to Pakistan in part for religious study.

...

But, that is what almost every terrorist has done. They go to Pakistan for religious study, and by the way, terrorist training and plotting. The Religious study business in Pakistan has gotten a bad name from this scam, so they need come up with a better explanation for these trips. In fact, anyone who goes to Pakistan for religious study, should probably become a suspect.

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