Trial begins for 2 men accused of funding Taliban

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A Pakistani police officer stands guard outside the college which was named after Malala Yousufzai, who was shot and injured by the Taliban, in Swat, Pakistan on Friday, Dec 21, 2012. A 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education has urged Pakistan to reverse a decision to rename a college in her honor to avert militant attacks on students, an official said. (AP Photo/Sherin Zada)

MIAMI— A U.S. prosecutor said Friday that a Muslim cleric and his son who are accused of funneling thousands of dollars to the Pakistani Taliban did so “in the name of a perverted form of the Muslim faith.”

Hafiz Khan, 77, and his 26-year old son, Izhar Khan, have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and material support to terrorism. The elder Khan was imam at a Miami mosque, and his son held the same post at a suburban mosque.

They are accused of sending more than $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban to help Taliban fighters after a Pakistan army offensive into the Swat Valley in summer 2009.

Each count the father and son face carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

In opening statements, assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley Jr. said Hafiz Khan expressed his backing for the Taliban supporter who tried to plant a bomb in New York City’s Times Square in summer 2010. The Pakistani Taliban has been linked to al-Qaida, and authorities say the group was connected to the Times Square bombing attempt.

A starkly different picture was painted by the elder Khan’s defense attorney, Khurrum Wahid, and the attorney for the son, Joseph Rosenbaum. They said prosecutors are misinterpreting thousands of phone conversations, intercepts and the bugged conversations of an informant.

Wahid told the jury that the elder cleric’s words are filled with expressions of love for his madrassa, the school he founded in Pakistan’s Swat Valley decades ago.

“He loved that school even more than his own family,” Wahid said. He added that the cleric was lashing out verbally against those who hurt his people.

“He was speaking in words that were not politically correct,” Wahid said.

Rosenbaum said the government had little evidence and in this case was “just plain wrong.”

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  • Garote

    These father and son are just scapegoats. If the US prosecutor is dead serious to convict those who financed the Al Qaeda group, then start filing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton who admitted that the US gov’t financed Al Qaeda in Syria, and she had participated in such an illegal deal. So what are you waiting, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley Jr.

    • dani77777

      to Garote,

      You got it all wrong.

      Hillary Clinton said that the US supported Al Qaeda during the cold war in the latter’s fight against the Soviet not knowing that the group later turned their guns against the US as it is now in Afghanistan.

      Clinton said “we” being now a high rank official of the US government unmindful of the time that the political policy was implemented way before. In fact, she was just a mere lawyer and activist during the cold war and her husband was only a state governor then.

      The war against terrorism does not belong to the US only. If you read the news, there is an international clamor against it and many nations are involved in the fight. Many Muslims themselves are critical and opposed to terrorism.

      Please get your facts straight.

      • Garote

        My facts are straight, I will assure you, It’s you that should get your facts straight.

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