A Muslim cleric living in Florida was convicted Monday on two charges of funneling money to members of the Pakistani Taliban.
Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan now faces up to 30 years in prison, The Associated Press reports.
The jury spent five days deliberating the fate of the 77-year-old, who was a cleric at a Miami mosque.
Federal investigators had hundreds of recorded conversations they presented during the trial. On the tape, Khan said he supported the Taliban attacks against America, and he expressed a desire to send $50,000 to aid the terrorists in Pakistan, AP reported.
"He said these things. He admitted these things. He did all of these things," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley said during closing arguments, AP reported.
Attorneys for Khan said the charges were ridiculous and any money he sent overseas was intended for his family, AP said.
According to the indictment, in addition to conspiring with the Pakistani Taliban — which is associated with al Qaeda — and supporting jihad, Mr. Khan also founded an Islamic school, or madrassa, in Swat while he was living in Pakistan that supported the Pakistani Taliban's efforts. He continued to fund the school while living as an imam in Miami and has sent children from his madrassa to learn to kill Americans in Afghanistan, the indictment reads.
“Despite being an Imam, or spiritual leader, Hafiz Khan was by no means a man of peace," a top attorney in the area, Wifredo A. Ferrer, said in a statement released by the Department of Justice Monday. "Instead, he acted with others to support terrorists to further acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming. But for law enforcement intervention, these defendants would have continued to transfer funds to Pakistan to finance the Pakistani Taliban, including its purchase of guns. Dismantling terrorist networks is a top priority for this Office and the Department of Justice.”
“Today, terrorists have lost another funding source to use against innocent people and U.S. interests,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami. “We will not allow this country to be used as a base for funding terrorists. Individuals such as Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, who support terror, represent a threat to our safety and provide an example of why the FBI’s number one priority is counterterrorism.”
Khan's sentencing has been scheduled for May 30. The statement by the Department of Justice released Monday did not mention as to why it abruptly dropped terrorism charges against Khan’s 39-year-old son, Irfan Khan, last summer nearly a year after arresting him, Judicial Watch reports.
The Pakistani Taliban was formed in 2007 by an alliance of radical Islamist militants. On September 1, 2010, the United States Department of State formally designated the Pakistani Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, the statement reads.
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