Terror financing imam claims to be potato chip investorFebruary 20, 2013
We’ve heard many far-fetched defenses in terrorist financing cases—mostly false claims of charity for the poor—but this one takes the cake. Or, more precisely, the potato chip.
How will South Florida imam Hafiz Khan’s defense lawyers explain Khan’s tape recorded statement that “Right now I have about 100,000 Pakistani rupees for the Taliban. People have given me (money) in small amounts, I have given some from my side.” Is “Taliban” the unfortunate name of the potato chip company, perhaps?
Witness testifies from Pakistan that Florida imam’s money was not for Taliban terrorists
MIAMI – Testifying via video from Pakistan, a man accused by the U.S. of conspiring with an elderly Miami-based Muslim cleric to funnel thousands of dollars to Taliban terrorists insisted Monday the money was for innocent purposes, including a potato chip factory run by the cleric’s son-in-law.
Ali Rehman was the first of as many as 11 witnesses expected to testify from an Islamabad hotel in defense of 77-year-old Hafiz Khan, who faces four terrorism support and conspiracy counts. Rehman is named in the same indictment and refused to come to the U.S. Other witnesses were unable to get U.S. visas in time.
Rehman said he handled three separate $10,000 transactions for Khan in 2008 and 2009. Most of the money, he testified, went to Anayat Ullah, who is married to Khan’s daughter Husna and started the potato chip business with his father-in-law as an investor. Rehman said he has known Ullah since they were children in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and wanted to do him a favor.
“That favor was that his father was sending him some money, and I used to deliver it to him or sent it to him,” said Rehman.
He spoke in Pashto that was translated into English for the 12-person jury watching him on flat-screen televisions.
Rehman kept a three-page ledger detailing most of the transactions, which jurors were shown. “I was just the middle man to give the money to him.”
Ullah also used his father’s money to buy a vehicle for the factory and to buy a house, Rehman said.
Rehman said he and Khan disagreed with the Taliban’s tactics of using violence and force to impose their version of Muslim law. Rehman said he was personally threatened by Taliban fighters who ordered him to remove products containing women’s pictures from a cosmetics store he owns.
“They came to my store one day and said, `You should remove these pictures.’ They also slapped me,” he said. “They said, `If you continue to sell this, it will not be good for you.’”
Rehman said he kept putting the Taliban off and eventually they stopped coming around.
Jurors were also played tape of an intercepted phone call between Rehman and Khan in which they are discussing financing of a road widening project. Khan suggested at one point that Rehman sell some trees he had cut down to help cover the cost…
A road widening project? Wouldn’t that be the responsibility of government officials? Sounds like code.