SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Hamid Hayat is out of federal jail in Arizona and into the arms of his family in Sacramento.
“It was a long time coming. We didn’t think it would take this long,” Basim Elkarra, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations, said.
Raheela Hayat, Hamid’s sister, said she and a few others knew Hamid was coming home.
“The nightmares have ended and we’re… finally, finally he’s back home,” said Raheela. “That moment when we saw him walking without anything on him, regular clothes, that was the day that Allah answered our prayers.”
Hayat was convicted in 2006 of allegedly attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and plotting an attack on the United States, but the charges were overturned last month.
“We actually could hug him, shake his hand, and kiss him. We couldn’t believe it,” Raheela said.
“14 years. I just hugged him and I didn’t want to let go,” Jaber Ismail, Hayat’s cousin, said.
Ismail said a celebration for the feast of sacrifice is only fitting this Sunday.
“You know he sacrificed a lot,” Ismail said. “He missed out on so much but at the same time he was so patient.”
That patience is something that Hamid embodies.
“He was like, ‘Jaber, pray for me. This is a test from God. You just have to be patient,’ That’s what he would tell me every day,” Ismail said.
That patience ultimately led to Hayat’s freedom.
“I would like to thank everyone. My legal team. All of my supporters. My brothers and sisters, this day is not possible without you guys,” Hamid Hayat said.
Hayat’s sister says this moment is making them thankful in more ways than one.
“[It’s] giving us hope that we’re Muslims. That we can live here in America just like normal people. The color doesn’t matter,” Raheela said.
“Post 9/11, with many terror-related cases and innocent people being swept up, this was vindication for [the] community,” Elkarra said.
Raheela and others say they hope others learn from Hamid’s tribulations.
“Please if the agents come, please don’t open the door,” she said. “Don’t make the mistake that we did. It’s okay not to talk to them. It’s not a bad thing. Get a lawyer.”
Elkarra said the federal government could re-try this case. He told us that the ball’s in their court but hopes it doesn’t come down to that.