LA TIMES--Federal authorities charged three members of a South Florida family, including one arrested in Los Angeles, in a conspiracy to raise money for weapons to "murder, maim and kidnap" people overseas and bolster the Pakistani Taliban.
Three other people in Pakistan, at least two of them related to the Florida family, were also charged.
Authorities say the ringleader of the group is Hafiz Khan, a 76-year-old imam, or religious leader, of a mosque in Miami. He was arrested Saturday by a group of nearly 30 FBI agents who waited until his early morning services were done before taking him into custody.
A 24-year-old son, Izhar Khan, who is also a religious leader at a mosque in nearby Margate, Fla., also was arrested.
Another son, Irfan Khan, 37, was arrested at 3 a.m. in a hotel room in El Segundo. A U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, he lives in Miami. The indictment says that he "is a Pakistani Taliban sympathizer who worked with [his father] and others to collect and deliver money for the Pakistani Taliban."
Officials said the suspects raised up to $45,000 and were linked to the Pakistani Taliban, the group that recruited the would-be Times Square bomber in New York last year.
The Pakistani Taliban also has been deeply involved in assaults against U.S. interests abroad, such as the December 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. military base in Khowst, Afghanistan, that killed seven CIA operatives near the Pakistani border.
The father and sons were being held without bail until court appearances Monday in Miami and Los Angeles, when they are expected to respond to the charges. Three other defendants remained at large, believed to be in Pakistan.
A third son who was not charged, Ikram Khan, sharply denied that his father and siblings were terrorists or tied to any terror organization, and said his father is too old and ill to engage in such activities. He said they had immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1994.
"None of my family supports the Taliban," he told the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. "We support this country."
According to the indictment, the six solicited and collected money and transferred it from the U.S. to supporters of the Taliban in Pakistan. They are accused of using bank accounts and wire transfers to move the funds, with the money intended to purchase guns and other weapons to further the Taliban's militant efforts to overthrow the Pakistani government and attack Americans there.
The indictment specifically charges the six individuals with conspiracy to murder, maim and kidnap people overseas, and with providing material support to a foreign terror organization.
Also charged were three suspects in Pakistan: Amina Khan, a daughter of the alleged ringleader; her son, Alam Zeb; and Ali Rehman. U.S. officials said they are working with their Pakistani counterparts to find them.
Hafiz Khan also was charged with sending additional funds to support an Islamic school he founded and controlled in the Swat region of Pakistan. Federal authorities say he used the school to shelter militants and their families, and to teach the "children from his madrassa [school] to learn to kill Americans in Afghanistan." (Read more.)
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Six Muslims Indicted in Terror Funding Plot
Will the Islamophobia never end? What kind of racist bigots would arrest people for obeying the Qur'an's clear command to "fight those who do not believe in Allah" (9:29)?