Friday, April 27, 2007

Echoes of Terror Case Haunt California Pakistanis

April 27, 2007

LODI, Calif., April 24 — Khalid Farooq has shunned the low-slung yellow bungalow that serves as the Pakistani community’s mosque here for nearly two years, ever since a father and son who worshiped there were arrested on suspicion of being foot soldiers for Al Qaeda.

If he runs an errand at someplace like Wal-Mart, away from the neat, tree-lined streets that constitute the heart of Lodi’s Pakistani neighborhood, Mr. Farooq trades his traditional baggy clothes for standard American attire, he said, as often as four times in one day.

“Something has changed in the air; it’s a scary time,” said Mr. Farooq, who first arrived to work in the flat, black fields that surround this town 25 years ago. “We don’t want to talk; we’re all afraid.”

The tide of fear rolled in and has never quite receded after an informant incriminated two Lodi men, Umer Hayat, an ice cream truck driver, and his son Hamid, who were arrested in June 2005. Their trial ended a year ago with the younger Mr. Hayat, 24, convicted of providing material support for terrorism by attending a training camp in Pakistan. His lawyers recently began seeking a new trial based on arguments that the jury was tainted.

Members of the Pakistani community here distrust one another almost as much as they do outsiders. Even now, residents with evidence of sudden wealth, like a new car, are immediately rumored to be on the F.B.I.’s payroll. Anything connected to the government is inherently suspect.



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