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Saturday, May 14, 2011
Feds: US Supporters of Pakistani Taliban Sent At Least $50,000 To Fund TerrorUPDATED
Three naturalized American citizens in South Florida have been indicted for providing money and material support to the Pakistani Taliban, the Justice Department announced today.
Those arrested today and charged include:
Hafiz and Izhar Khan were arrested in Florida. Izhar Khan was arrested in Los Angeles. Three others living in Pakistan were charged under the same indictment, but are still at large. It was not immediately clear if they were also American citizens.
Full text of indictment
Hafiz Khan, a native of the Swat Valley region of Pakistan, has been imam at the Miami Masjid in the U.S. since at least 1999, according to the indictment. He is accused of soliciting, collecting and transferring funds to Tehrik-e Taliban, the Pakistani group behind the attempted bombing of Times Square by American citizen Faisal Shahzad.
“Despite being an Imam, or spiritual leader, Hafiz Khan was by no means a man of peace," U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said in a statement.
Hafiz Khan is also accused of founding and controlling a madrassa in the Swat region of Pakistan, Madrassa Arabia Ahya-al-Aloom, which was used to provide shelter and support to TTP members as well as to indoctrinate children in jihad. Children from the madrassa were allegedly sent to fight Americans in Afghanistan.
Ali Rehman, one of the suspects living in Pakistan, was charged with trying to provide guns and financial support to TTP. The rest of the suspects were accused of collecting and delivering money to TTP. Formal charges for all six include conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping, and material support of a terrorist organization.
Significant amounts of money moved through the network, according to the indictment. Between 2008 and 2010, at least $50,000 in funds were moved from the U.S. to Pakistan for use by TTP. Ferrer told the Miami Herald that considerably more money was involved.
Hafiz Khan took part in phone conversations with Irfan Khan and others in which he called for a suicide bomb attack on the Pakistani parliament as well as strategies to assassinate Pakistani officials using guns. In a separate conversation, he called for the death of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and an Iranian-style revolution to establish Islamic law in Pakistan.
The fundraising was not generalized. At times, Hafiz Kahn specifically directed funds to fighters or units and advised couriers in Pakistan on how to avoid detection. Most of the money was intended to buy guns and pay Taliban fighters and their families.
The Muslim Communities Association & Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations issued a statement today saying they were "aware of the indictment." According to the statement, the organizations have "been working with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Miami FBI office, and appreciate the efforts of law enforcement to root out potential sources and supporters of terrorism. We stand together with the U.S. Attorney, Wifredo Ferrer, and the men and women of the FBI, and have been and will be cooperating with law enforcement to our fullest ability."
The statement said Khan had been suspended as imam of the Masjid Miami.
South Florida has long been a center for Islamic extremists. Prior to September 11, followers of the blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman helped recruit jihadists in the area to fight in Bosnia and Chechnya.
Two of Al Qaeda's most famous American recruits also hail from the area -- Jose Padilla, who was sent to the U.S. by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on a mission to blow up apartment buildings, and Adnan Shukrijumah, who the FBI believes is an important leader of Al Qaeda's external opertations.
TTP was responsible for the attempted bombing of Times Square in May 2010. Faisal Shazad, a naturalized American citizen, was trained and partially financed by TTP. He was also videotaped meeting with senior leaders of the group.
Just this week, TTP carried out a suicide bombing in Pakistan that killed 80 people. A statement issued by the group said that the attack was "revenge" for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
For much more about American jihadists in Florida and all over the United States, buy J.M. Berger's new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, out now!.
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
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