An elderly Miami imam and two of his sons have been arrested on federal charges they provided some $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, while three others in Pakistan have been indicted on charges of handling distribution of the funds, authorities say.
Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, was arrested Saturday at the Miami Mosque, also known as the Flagler Mosque. One of his sons, Izhar Khan, 24, another imam at the Jamaat Al-Mu’mineen Mosque in nearby Margate, Fla., was arrested there. Another son, Irfan Khan, 37, was detained in Los Angeles. The three are U.S. citizens. Their mosques are not suspected of wrongdoing, authorities said.
Also named in the indictment are three others at large in Pakistan–Hafiz Khan’s daughter, grandson and an unrelated man, all three charged with handling the distribution of funds, authorities said. The Pakistani Taliban are designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization.
The indictment lists about $50,000 in transactions. According to the indictment, the funds were used to buy guns, support militants’ families and promote the cause of the Pakistani Taliban. It alleges that Hafiz Khan owns the religious school in northwest Pakistan that shelters members of the Pakistani Taliban and trains children to become militants.
Khan’s 19-year-old grandson, Alam Zeb, who is accused of collecting and distributing money sent from the U.S. to the Pakistani Taliban, denied the charges against him and his family Sunday.
U.S. authorities said the indictment recounts recorded conversations in which Hafiz Khan allegedly voices support for attacks on the Pakistani government and U.S. troops in the region, officials said.
The Pakistani Taliban is a wing of the terrorist group that originated in Afghanistan. It claimed responsibility for paired suicide bombings Friday that killed 87 people in what it said was vengeance for the killing of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. The group has also been linked to the Times Square car bombing in New York in May 2010.
The Pakistani militant group is allied with al-Qaida, is based in the northwest of Pakistan near the Afghan border and has links to that country’s Taliban insurgency.