Muslim Imam in Miami arrested for giving financial aid to Pakistan Taliban.
On May 14, 2011, FBI agents in Miami arrested Hafiz Muhammad Ali Khan, 76 year-old Imam, on charges of conspiracy along with four other family members to give financial aid to terrorist activities of the Taliban rebels in Pakistan. The indictment alleges specifically that they sent $50,000 to insurgents for guns, training, schools and other resources to carry out violent activities. According to the federal charges the government tapped phone conversations of Khan and others over the course of a two year period. In one of those conversations it is alleged that Hafiz Khan spoke with a son about calling for an attack on the Pakistani Assembly. In another conversation the government claims Khan talked about Pakistani insurgents and praised to the Taliban in Afghanistan for conducting a raid on U.S. soldiers. The United States Attorney in Miami announced that the evidence was based on the wiretapped conversations well as bank records of financial transactions by Khan to a bank account in Pakistan. The arrests were first reported by Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald.
Family members of Mr. Khan announced that none of his family supports the Taliban. Others in the South Florida Muslim community were stunned by the news, and all echoed the same sentiments that these charges are out of character for Mr. Khan, a soft-spoken, sickly man. The Muslim Communities Association issued a statement condemning any act of support for terrorism while emphasizing that those arrested are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This indictment is the first terrorism case in the South Florida Federal court since the Bush Administrations prosecution against Jose Padilla, one time labeled an enemy combatant, conviction followed a five month trial in Miami. The indictment charging Khan is founded on the same material support statute as the Padilla case, which makes it a crime to supply money to groups overseas involved terrorist activities. Padilla and his co-defendants were charged with giving Padilla financial assistance and support in traveling to and attending an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. The Padilla case is still pending before the Federal Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Ken Swartz of the Swartz Law Firm represented Adham Hassoun, who was charged along with Jose Padilla.