Imams at Two South Florida Mosques Arrested on Terrorist Charges
Six people in Florida and Pakistan have been charged with providing financing and material support to the Pakistani Taliban, Reuters reported Saturday.
Three of the accused, who are all originally from Pakistan, were U.S. citizens arrested in South Florida and Los Angeles. They include two imams, or Muslim religious leaders, from mosques in Florida, Reuters said.
The other three charged were living in Pakistan and are still at large, the report said.
All six were charged in a four-count indictment with being involved in a conspiracy to "murder, maim and kidnap persons overseas," as well with conspiring to provide $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban.
Two of the accused, Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, and his son, Izhar Khan, 24, were arrested in South Florida. Another son, Irfan Khan, 37, was detained in Los Angeles.
Hafiz Khan is the imam at the Miami Mosque, also known as the Flagler Mosque, in Miami. His son, Izhar Khan, is an imam at the Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen Mosque in Margate, Fla., the federal indictment said.
If convicted, each faced a potential 15 years in prison for each count of the indictment.
The Pakistani Taliban is classified as a "designated foreign terrorist organization" by the U.S. government.
U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, said the arrests were "further proof that there are individuals among us aiding and abetting terrorists who want to destroy our way of life. The United States clearly continues to be a prime target.
"These men were living among South Floridians, worshiping at mosques in our own back yard, and using United States banks to wire money back to terrorist groups."
While applauding the actions of the U.S. attorney's office, West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, cautioned, "We must recognize that a very real, dangerous faction of Islamic extremism exists in our communities. These terrorists are recruiting American citizens, infiltrating our schools and our military, and using our own resources against us."