Elderly Muslim cleric accused of funneling money to Pakistani Taliban
Relatives say that Miami cleric is suffering from dementia
elderly Muslim cleric has been convicted of funneling thousands of
dollars to support the Pakistani Taliban terror organization. Hafiz
Khan, a 77-year-old imam at a downtown Miami mosque has been found
guilty on all four charges of two conspiracy counts and two counts of
providing material support to terrorists.
Each charge carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence and sentencing is set for May 30.
Prosecutors have built their case largely around hundreds of FBI recordings of conversations in which Khan expressed support for Taliban attacks and discussed sending about $50,000 to Pakistan.
Also included in the recordings were ones in which Khan backed the overthrow of Pakistan's government in favor of strict Islamic law, praised the killing of American military personnel and lauded the failed 2010 attempt to detonate a bomb in New York's Times Square.
"He said these things. He admitted these things. He did all of these things," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley said during closing arguments.
Testifying in his own defense, Khan was adamant that the money he sent overseas was for family, charity and business reasons - above all, his religious school, known as a madrassa, in Pakistan's Swat Valley.
Most tellingly, Khan said he repeatedly lied about harboring extremist views to obtain $1 million from a man who turned out to be an FBI informant wearing a wire to record their talk.
"That is not supporting terrorism," Khan Attorney Khurrum Wahid said in a closing argument. "That is an old guy running a scam, who got scammed."
Prosecutors pointed out that the purported $1 million offer was never heard on any tapes and no other witnesses testified about its existence.
"That is an absurd story," Shipley said. "This whole defense is a lie."
One of Khan's sons, Irfan, said after the verdict that his father was mentally unable to express himself clearly on the witness stand.
"I wish he didn't have dementia so he could explain himself better," Irfan Khan, a Miami taxi driver said. "You're asking him questions about five or six years ago. That really affects things."
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Miami, Muslim cleric, Taliban, trial, terrorism, dementia
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