Man Accused Of Supporting Taliban To Appear In LA Court
The 37-year-old was arrested at a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport around 3 a.m. Saturday. He was taken to the Federal Building in West LA and was then transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center.
His father, 76-year-old Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan who is an imam and 24-year-old brother Izhar Khan, were also arrested Saturday in Miami. The three are U.S. citizens. Their mosques are not suspected of wrongdoing, authorities said.
The Federal indictment alleges that about $50,000 was sent to help buy guns, support militants families and promote the cause of the Pakistani Taliban.
Also named in the indictment are three others at large in Pakistan — Hafiz Khan’s daughter, grandson and an unrelated man, all three charged with handling the distribution of funds, authorities said. The Pakistani Taliban are designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization.
Khan’s 19-year-old grandson, Alam Zeb, who is accused of collecting and distributing money sent from the U.S. to the Pakistani Taliban, denied the charges against him and his family Sunday.
“It is baseless,” Zeb told The Associated Press in Sarsnai, a village in Pakistan’s Swat Valley where the elder Khan used to live and established a madrassa, or Islamic school.
Zeb also denied U.S. allegations that the madrassa that Khan founded is used to shelter or support the Pakistani Taliban or has trained sent children off to learn how to fight Americans in Afghanistan.
The oldest of four brothers, Zeb also expressed surprise at the allegations against his uncle, Izhar Khan. He said the uncle spent about a month in the village a year ago — what Zeb said was the man’s first visit in 12 years.
He said he learned about the allegations Sunday from his mother, Amina Khan, who also has been accused of collecting and distributing money for the Pakistani Taliban. She was identified in the court documents as the daughter of the elder Florida imam.
In the United States, attempts to reach the U.S. men’s attorneys and families were unsuccessful. However, another son of Hafiz Khan, Ikram Khan, told The Miami Herald that his father was too old and sick to be involved in the plot.
“None of my family supports the Taliban,” he told the newspaper. “We support this country.”
If convicted, the South Florida men face 15 years in prison for each of the four counts listed in the indictment.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said suspicious financial activity triggered the investigation three years ago.
U.S. authorities said the indictment recounts recorded conversations in which Hafiz Khan allegedly voices support for attacks on the Pakistani government and U.S. troops in the region, officials said.
Irfan Khan is expected to appear in Federal court in Los Angeles Monday afternoon. His brother and father are also scheduled to appear in court Monday.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)