Two relatives of a Lodi man who was convicted of supporting terrorists have been cleared to return home from a long trip to Pakistan, ending a five-month standoff in which the U.S. citizens were told they had to cooperate with the FBI to get off the government's no-fly list, a federal law enforcement official said Tuesday.
"There's been a change," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and would not detail the reason for the move, which was made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Lodi residents Muhammad Ismail, a 45-year-old naturalized citizen born in Pakistan, and his 18-year-old son, Jaber Ismail, who was born in the United States, were never charged with a crime. But they are the uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat, 23, who was convicted in April of supporting terrorists by attending a Pakistani training camp and is awaiting sentencing.
The most striking aspect of this entire travesty was the sheer lawlessness of it. There was never any document issued to these citizens or their lawyers stating what the restrictions were or the basis for them. Instead, they were given multiple inconsistent explanations as to why they were barred from returning -- all delivered orally and informally by a shifting mix of airline security agents and representatives of the FBI. They were essentially trapped in some caricature of a Kafka nightmare where they were barred by unseen powers from returning to their country without any explanation as to what, if anything, they did to provoke that punishment and without being able even to know for certain who imposed the punishment.
The Republicans hate us for our freedom.