From the Bridge for Sale Department: Terrorist lamps, you say? No, we don’t know anything about any — oh, terrorist camps! Of course! In Pakistan? Why, the very idea is preposterous! Universities of jihad? Well, yes, but of course, jihad is an inner spiritual struggle!
From AP, with thanks to AP, with thanks to Skeetstreet:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz denied Saturday there are terrorist camps in Pakistan, adding that he is seeking information from the FBI about a California man accused of receiving jihadist training near Pakistan’s capital.
Other experts also questioned the FBI’s version of events. Aziz’s comments at a press conference came a day after a federal judge in Sacramento, California, refused to grant bail to Hamid Hayat, 22. His father, Umer Hayat, 47, also has been denied bail.
The men were arrested this week on charges of lying to federal investigators after what the FBI said was a yearslong investigation into possible connections between some residents of the predominantly Pakistani community of Lodi, which sits south of Sacramento, and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network. Three Pakistani citizens from Lodi, including two leaders of the Islamic community, also are being held on immigration complaints….
Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Steven Lapham argued the younger Hayat, a U.S. citizen, traveled repeatedly to Pakistan where he “learned to kill Americans” while attending a terrorist camp for six months in 2003 and 2004.
Umer Hayat said his son was drawn to jihadist training camps in his early teenage years while attending a madrassa, or religious school, in Rawalpindi, a city just outside Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, according to an FBI affidavit. An early version of the FBI affidavit alleged that Hamid Hayat attended a training camp called Tamal, also near Rawalpindi.
But Aziz said Saturday there are no terrorist training facilities in Pakistan. “There are no such camps,” he said. Aziz said he had asked Pakistan’s embassy in Washington for details of the FBI’s allegations.
Terrorism experts noted Rawalpindi is an unlikely location because it is the site of both President Pervez Musharraf’s official residence and the Pakistani army’s general headquarters, though some Pakistani military and intelligence officials have been sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Experts said such camps do exist in other parts of the country, run by al-Qaida and other jihadist organizations along the remote, mountainous border with Afghanistan, and in the independent North-West Frontier Province, in Waziristan, in the Punjab and in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
“We’re standing by the affidavit filed in court,” a later version that deleted the contested details, said the FBI’s Cauthen. FBI spokeswoman Ann Todd in Washington, D.C., had no additional comment.