A Miami imam and two of his sons were arrested Saturday on federal charges they provided some $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization, officials said.
MIAMI — A Miami imam and two of his sons were arrested Saturday on federal charges they provided some $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization, officials said.
Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, was arrested after morning services at the Miami Mosque, also known as the Flagler Mosque, where he is an imam. One of his sons, Izhar Khan, 24, an imam at the Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen Mosque in nearby Margate, Fla., was arrested after morning services there. Another son, Irfan Khan, 37, was detained at his hotel room in Los Angeles around the same time. The men are U.S. citizens. Their mosques are not suspected of wrongdoing, officials said.
Also named in the indictment are three others at large in Pakistan — Hafiz Khan's daughter, grandson and an unrelated man, all three of whom are charged with handling the distribution of funds.
The indictment lists about $50,000 in transactions. The funds were used to buy guns, support militants' families and promote the cause of the Pakistani Taliban, according to the indictment. It also alleges that Hafiz Khan owns a madrassa, or religious school, in his native Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan that shelters members of the Pakistani Taliban and trains children to become militants.
Attempts to reach the men's attorneys and families were unsuccessful Saturday. However, another son of Hafiz Khan, Ikram Khan, told The Miami Herald that his father was too old and sick to be involved in the plot.
"None of my family supports the Taliban," he told the newspaper. "We support this country."
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said the investigation was sparked three years ago by suspicious financial activity and was not based on an undercover sting operation.
"This is based on the defendant's words, actions and records," Ferrer said at a news conference Saturday.
The indictment recounts recorded conversations in which Hafiz Khan allegedly voices support for attacks on the Pakistani government and American troops in the region.