Judge Throws Out Taliban Terror Case Against Florida Imam

MIAMI (The Miami Herald/MCT) -

A federal judge Thursday threw out the terrorism charges against a young Muslim cleric from Broward County, Fla., in a trial in which he and his father, an imam in Miami, are accused of providing financial support to the Pakistani Taliban terrorist organization.

Izhar Khan, imam of a mosque in Margate, became a free man after U.S. District Judge Robert Scola issued a judgment of acquittal for the 26-year-old Muslim scholar. The case against his father will continue.

The judge found that the prosecution, which rested its case Wednesday in the material support trial, failed to mount sufficient evidence of wrongdoing against Izhar Khan, imam of Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen mosque. Scola concluded that the government’s allegations that Izhar Khan knew two suspicious fund transfers of $300 and $900 were intended for the Pakistani Taliban, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, were unfounded.

“I do not believe in good conscience that I can allow the case to go forward against Izhar Khan,” Scola ruled from the bench, noting in a written ruling, “This court will not allow the sins of the father to be visited upon the son.”

The judge also said from the bench that prosecutors nonetheless “proceeded in this case against Izhar Khan in good faith.”

Both the son and his father have been held in the Miami federal detention center since their arrest in May 2011 on charges of funneling about $50,000 to the Taliban to target U.S. interests in Pakistan between 2009 and 2010.

The Taliban allegedly used the funds to buy arms and other ammunition to carry out terrorist attacks against the Pakistan government, which is a U.S. ally.

The government’s case has been built largely on FBI-recorded phone conversations between Hafiz Khan and other members of his family and suspected Taliban sympathizers. His bank records have also been central to the government’s case against him.

Both imams countered that their financial support was intended not for terrorists but for relatives, friends and schoolchildren in Pakistan who have struggled for survival. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Charges were dismissed last year against another son, Irfan Khan, because of a lack of evidence. He attended Thursday’s hearing on the acquittal ruling along with another brother, Ikram Khan, who is not charged in the case.