Terror Support Charges Dropped Against Margate Muslim Cleric
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – All federal charges have been dismissed against a Muslim cleric from Margate who, along with his father, was accused of providing financial support to the Taliban in Pakistan.
Following the conclusion of the prosecution’s case on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola ruled Thursday morning that there was not enough evidence of wrongdoing against 26-year old Izhar Khan and threw out the charges.
Scola said he did not “want the sins of the father to be visited upon the son.”
“I cannot, in good conscience, let this case go forward,” said the judge.
Late Thursday morning Khan walked out of the federal courthouse in Miami a free man.
“I rarely represent innocent people,” said Joe Rosenbaum, Khan’s attorney. “Once in a while I do and it’s a very terrifying ordeal for me. A lot of sleepless nights and a lot of work. I’ve always believed in his innocence and justice prevailed.”
“I’m happy with the justice system to say the least, and I think justice was served,” said Khan.
Khan is an imam at a mosque in Margate. He and his father, 77-year old Hafiz Khan, both pleaded not guilty in May 2011 to four charges of conspiracy and material support to terrorism, asserting they were sending financial support to relatives and friends in Pakistan who have struggled for survival — not to terrorists. Each charge carries a 15 year prison sentence.
Trial will continue for the elder Khan who is a cleric at a mosque in Miami because Scola said the evidence against him is much stronger.
Charges were dismissed last year against another son, Irfan Khan, because of a lack of evidence.
Central to the prosecution’s case against the Khans were more than 1,000 phone calls and other communications intercepted by the FBI from 2008 to 2010. Based in large part on those calls, prosecutors say the Khans wired at least $50,000 to help finance the Pakistani Taliban.
Prosecutors say Hafiz Khan founded a religious school, known as a madrassa, in Pakistan’s Swat Valley that was used by the Taliban to train and indoctrinate children in fighting Americans. The madrassa was shut down in 2009 by the Pakistani army.
Linked to al Qaida, the Pakistani Taliban has played roles in several attacks against the U.S., including a December 2009 suicide bombing at a military base in Khost, Afghanistan, that killed seven U.S. citizens, prosecutors said. The group also was connected to the attempt in May 2010 by Faisal Shahzad to detonate a bomb in New York’s Times Square.