MARCH 05, 2013
In a story largely ignored by the mainstream media, a south Florida imam has been convicted on multiple terrorism charges for financially supporting an al-Qaeda branch in his native Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.
Judicial Watch was on the ground in Miami federal court monitoring the trial, which lasted two months and received only sporadic coverage from local media despite the magnitude of the crimes. The defendant, Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, is a Pakistani national with U.S. citizenship who served as the Muslim leader of the Flagler Mosque in Miami.
Last summer the feds charged the imam and several members of his family with providing material support to the Pakistani Taliban, which is associated with Al-Qaeda and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against American interests, including a 2009 suicide bombing at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. Read the indictment.
Khan founded an Islamic school that supports the Taliban’s jihad while living in Pakistan and continued controlling and funding it as an imam in Miami, according to the indictment. He used the school to provide shelter and support for Taliban soldiers and to train children how to kill Americans in Afghanistan, the indictment says. The rest of the family helped create a network that flowed money from the U.S. to Pakistan to purchase guns for the Taliban, according to the feds.
Khan, who is 77, took the stand in his own defense. He appeared quite animated and confident during his four days of testimony, but was visibly dejected after the verdict was read. He faces up to 15 years in prison. The 12 jurors who convicted him deliberated for a week and refused to comment after delivering the verdict.
“Despite being an Imam, or spiritual leader, Hafiz Khan was by no means a man of peace,” said the area’s top federal prosecutor, Wilfredo Ferrer, in a statement. “Instead, he acted with others to support terrorists to further acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming. 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.”
Not surprisingly, the statement fails to address why the Department of Justice (DOJ) abruptly dropped terrorism charges against Khan’s 39-year-old son (Irfan Khan) last summer nearly a year after arresting him. A DOJ spokeswoman delivered this statement to the local south Florida newspaper covering the story: “We are unable to comment on the internal deliberations that led to our decision. However, the charges against his co-defendants remain in place and trial is pending for those defendants in U.S. custody.” Federal prosecutors have also failed to explain the status of three other defendants in this case, all fugitives believed to be in Pakistan.
The national media lost interest in this story after widespread coverage of how the FBI raided the Khan mosque in a manner that assured cultural sensitivity towards Islam. Federal agents actually waited for prayer service to end before moving in out of respect for Muslims and they took their shoes off prior to entering the mosque as per Islamic tradition. It made for “kindlier, gentler arrests,” under the Obama Administration’s new rules of engagement to assure more sensitivity toward religious practices.
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