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Terrorism


South Florida Imams Arrested For Supporting Pakistani Taliban

Posted: May 17, 2011

Three American citizens, including two Southern Florida Imams, face charges of providing support to the Pakistani Taliban.

 

Hafiz Khan, the imam at the Flagler Mosque in Miami, and his son Izhar Khan, imam at the Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen Mosque in Margate, were arrested on May 14, 2011 in South Florida. Another of Hafiz Khan's sons, Irfan Khan, was arrested that same day in El Segundo, California.

 

The defendants are accused of providing material support to a conspiracy to kill, injure and kidnap people abroad. Three relatives of the arrested men were also indicted on similar charges in Pakistan.

 

According to the indictment, "[Hafiz] Khan solicited and distributed funds for the Pakistani Taliban, both personally and on behalf of others, and worked with the co-defendants and others to support the Pakistani Taliban's jihad."

 

In July 2009, Khan and his son Irfan allegedly "called for an attack on the Pakistani Assembly that would resemble the September 2008 suicide bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad," according to the Justice Department.

 

"But for law enforcement intervention, these defendants would have continued to transfer funds to Pakistan to finance the Pakistani Taliban, including its purchase of guns," said U.S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer.

 

The Web site of Izhar Khan's Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen had included links under the heading "Islamic Knowledge" to the Web sites of Harun Yahya. Yahya, the pen name of Adnan Oktar, is an anti-Semitic Turkish writer who wrote a book denying the Holocaust in 1996.

 

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani-based terrorist group the defendants are accused of supporting, has carried out numerous attacks against American interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and previously warned of terror attacks inside the U.S.

 

TTP orchestrated the May 2010 attempted bombing in Times Square in which Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen from Pakistan, attempted to detonate his explosives-laden car at an intersection heavily populated with tourists and pedestrian traffic. Shahzad told federal authorities that he had previously received bomb-making training from TTP in Waziristan, an Al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold which serves as a center for launching attacks against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

 

Florida has been a base for fund-raising for other foreign terrorist organizations as well. For example, an indictment unsealed in February 2010 charged three Miami-based businessmen—Kaled T. Safadi, Ulises Talavera and Emilio Gonzalez-Neira—with smuggling electronics to a Hezbollah-operated shopping center in Paraguay that served as Hezbollah's headquarters in the tri-border region of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. 

 

Florida has seen similar incidents involving the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. In August 2008, American citizen Richard David Hupper was sentenced in a Miami federal court to more than three and a half years in prison for providing material support to Hamas. Several months earlier, Hupper admitted donating $20,000 to Hamas, despite knowing that it was illegal.

 

Another highly publicized case involved support for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group. In April 2006, Sami al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor and a prominent Muslim leader in Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide services to PIJ.  

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