Imam, two sons, arrested on terror charges in US
Attorney A Ferrer said despite being a spiritual leader, Hafiz Khan was by no means a man of peace.
Washington: A Florida-based imam of Pakistani origin, and his two sons are among five persons charged by US authorities for providing financial and material support to the Pakistani Taliban.
FBI agents arrested Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, and his son Irfan Khan, 37, in South Florida on Saturday. Both are US citizens and residents of Miami.
Hafiz Khan is the imam of a mosque in Miami.
One of his other sons, Izhar Khan, 24, has also been arrested by FBI on terrorist related charges.
Three other individuals residing in Pakistan, Ali Rehman, aka Faisal Ali Rehman, Alam Zeb and Amina Khan aka Amina Bibi are also charged in the indictment.
Amina Khan is the daughter of Khan and her son, Alam Zeb, is Khan's grandson.
All six defendants are charged with conspiring to provide, and providing, material support to a conspiracy to murder, maim and kidnap persons overseas, as well as conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, specifically, the Pakistani Taliban.
Defendants Khan, Rehman and Zeb are also charged with providing material support to the Pakistani Taliban.
"The defendants are originally from Pakistan. Hafiz Khan is the Imam at the Miami Mosque, also known as the Flagler Mosque, in Miami. His son, Izhar Khan, is an Imam at the Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen Mosque in Margate.
"The indictment does not charge the mosques themselves with any wrongdoing, and the individual defendants are charged based on their provision of material support to terrorism, not on their religious beliefs or teachings," the Department of Justice said in a statement.
US Attorney Wifredo A Ferrer said despite being a spiritual leader, Hafiz Khan was by no means a man of peace.
"Instead, as today's charges show, he acted with others to support terrorists to further acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming," he said.
Ferrer said but for law enforcement intervention, these defendants would have continued to transfer funds to Pakistan to finance the Pakistani Taliban, including it's purchase of guns.
"Today terrorists have lost another funding source to use against innocent people and US interests. We will not allow this country to be used as a base for funding and recruiting terrorists," said John Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Miami Office.
According to the allegations in the indictment, from around 2008 through in or around November 2010, the defendants provided money, financial services, and other forms of support to the Pakistani Taliban.
All the six charged sought to aid the Pakistani Taliban's fight against the Pakistani government and it's perceived allies, including the US, by supporting acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming in Pakistan and elsewhere, in order to displace the lawful government of Pakistan and to establish strict Islamic law or 'Sharia'.
To this end, the defendants, assisted by others in the US and Pakistan, conspired to provide and provided material support to the Pakistani Taliban by soliciting, collecting and transferring money from the US to supporters of the Pakistani Taliban, primarily using bank accounts and wire transfer services in the US and Pakistan.
According to the indictment, these funds were intended to purchase guns for the Pakistani Taliban, to sustain militants and their families, and generally to promote the Pakistani Taliban's cause.
In addition, the indictment alleges that the defendant Khan supported the Pakistani Taliban through a madrassa, or Islamic school, that he founded and controlled in the Swat region of Pakistan.
Khan has allegedly used the madrassa to provide shelter and other support for the Pakistani Taliban and has sent children from his madrassa "to learn to kill Americans" in Afghanistan.
According to the allegations, the defendants endorsed the violence perpetrated by the Pakistani Taliban.
On one occasion in July 2009, defendants Khan and Irfan participated in a recorded conversation in which Khan called for an attack on the Pakistani Assembly that would resemble the September 2008 suicide bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
On another occasion in September 2010, Hafiz Khan allegedly participated in a conversation in which he stated that he would provide that individual with contact information for Pakistani Taliban militants in Karachi, and upon hearing that 'mujahideen' in Afghanistan had killed seven American soldiers, declared his wish that God kill 50,000 more.
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