Two Florida Imams arrested

Three U.S. citizens, including two imams of Florida mosques, were among the six people who have been indicted on charges of financing and supporting the Pakistani Taliban. Five are family members. The three U.S. citizens were arrested, while the other three are at large in Pakistan. The indictment accuses them of “supporting acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming in Pakistan and elsewhere.” FBI agents arrested 76-year-old Hafiz Khan, an imam of the oldest mosque in Miami, and his 24-year-old son Izhar Khan in South Florida, reports the Miami Herald. Another one of his sons, 37-year-old Irfan Khan, an imam at a mosque in Margate, Fla., was arrested in Los Angeles. Amina Khan, a daughter of Hafiz Khan, her son, Alam Zeb, and Ali Rehman were also charged.

“Despite being an Imam, or spiritual leader, Hafiz Khan was by no means a man of peace,’’ U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said in a statement. “Instead, as today’s charges show, he acted with others to support terrorists to further acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming.”

The six are charged with providing “material support” to the Pakistani Taliban, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. The indictment, which was approved Thursday but made public Saturday, lists financial transactions worth $50,000 to help the group’s operations, “but a U.S. official said investigators know of other money transfers,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Each defendant was charged with at least three counts and they could each lead to 15 years in prison, details Bloomberg. The indictment claims Khan ran a madrassa, or Islamic school, in the Swat region of Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban has carried out several high-profile attacks, including the attempt to bomb Times Square in 2010. This week, the group claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 80 people in Pakistan, calling it a revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The indictment was made public at a time of rising tensions between Pakistan and the United States following the raid in the town of Abbottabad that killed bin Laden. The Pakistani parliament approved a resolution Saturday that condemned the operation and demanded a review of the country’s relationship with the United States. Officials claim the Saturday arrests have nothing to do with intelligence gathered during that raid.

Categories: United States

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