MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A Muslim cleric in South Florida will spend the next 25 years in jail after he was convicted on federal charges of funneling money to the Pakistani Taliban.
Hafiz Khan, an imam at the Flagler Mosque in Miami, is 78-years-old and had faced up to 60 years in jail for the charges of aiding the Taliban.
Federal prosecutors recommended a 15-year-sentence for Khan, which would keep him in jail until the age of 93.
Khan maintains his innocence.
“I was never sympathetic to terrorism,” Khan said in court from his wheelchair. “I am against terrorists and the fighting Taliban.”
Trial evidence showed Khan arranged to send about $50,000 over a three-year period to Pakistan. Prosecutors argued the money helped finance violent attacks against both U.S. and Pakistani targets.
Khan testified in his own defense that the money was for family, friends and a religious school he founded.
Outside court, Khan’s lawyer Khrrum Walid said, “I am surprised especially since the government said they were willing to accept a sentence of 15 years.
Walid went on to say that a lower sentence would have been more in line with other cases around the country.
Khan’s son too said he was disappointing, Efran Khan and his brother were originally charged in the case, but those charges were dropped.
“I think 25 years is a lot for something he did not do,” said Efran.