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Terrorism accusations dampened between news releases and court


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Attorneys for a father and son arrested in connection with a broad FBI terrorism probe plan to challenge the government case in court today over significantly differing versions of the affidavit used to charge the two men.

The first version of the affidavit released to the media by the Department of Justice in Washington said potential terrorist targets included hospitals and stores and contained names of key individuals and statements about the international origins of "hundreds" of participants in alleged al-Qaida terrorist training camps inside Pakistan.

These details - among the most alarming in the case - were widely reported in the news media, but then deleted in the final version filed with the federal court in Sacramento on Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors blamed the problem on confusion inside the bureaucracy as different versions circulated between federal offices.

"An unfortunate oversight due to miscommunication," said Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra.

But defense attorney Johnny L. Griffin III, who represents the father, 47-year-old Lodi ice cream truck driver Umer Hayat, accused the government of "releasing information it knew it could not authenticate."

Attorney Wazhma Mojaddidi, who represents the son, 22-year-old Hamid Hayat, said she plans to bring up the different versions of the affidavit when she represents her client at his arraignment scheduled for this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter A. Nowinski in Sacramento.

Both father and son are accused of making false statements to federal officials.

A key deletion in the two versions, said Mohaddidi, was in a paragraph claiming that Hamid Hayat had said "potential targets for attack would include hospitals and large food stores."

This part of the affidavit from FBI Special Agent Pedro Tenoch Aguilar was one of the most widely repeated in news accounts around the world, leading some terrorism experts to speculate about a significant escalation of al-Qaida strategies against public targets.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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