Hafiz Khan convicted for funding the TalibanMarch 7, 2013
Two imams in the U.S. have been convicted of terrorist financing within the span of two weeks. First there was Imam Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud in San Diego who conspired with fellow Somali immigrants in America to fund al-Shabaab in East Africa, and now Hafiz Khan, the Florida-based imam who transferred money to the Pakistani Taliban.
Given the extensive wiretap and documentary bank evidence against Imam Khan, the case never looked good for him. When his defense attorneys blundered by putting Khan on the witness stand to deliver listless tirades and tortured explanations of why he said what he said, it looked even worse.
First his lawyers said that Khan was mentally incompetent, but the court didn’t buy that. Then their story was that Khan provided charitable relief and made investments in a potato chip company in Pakistan. Then the story changed again to Khan purporting that he had lied to the Taliban in his wiretapped conversations, and that he only offered them money to get more money in return. The plan was supposedly to give the Taliban $50,000 now to get $1 million back from them later, which would represent an unbelievable 1,900% return on his “investment.”
Did it occur to Mr. Khan or his defense team that there is no legal distinction between giving money to a terrorist organization to wage jihad versus giving money to a terrorist organization as an investment? In any case, the defense was not plausible, and Khan could not explain his taped statements wishing death upon U.S. troops. Allowing him to testify in his own defense was a disaster.
Real people have been killed or injured and property has been destroyed in Pakistan because of the TTP, and the TTP was enriched because this man collected money fellow Islamists in Florida. Khan, an old man, faces a maximum 60 year sentence. He will surely die in prison. At least he’ll have the opportunity to say good-bye to his family—an opportunity the TTP’s victims never had.
From the Miami Herald on Mar. 4:
Florida imam convicted in Pakistani Taliban case
By CURT ANDERSON
AP Legal Affairs Writer
MIAMI — An elderly Muslim cleric has been convicted by a Miami federal court jury of providing thousands of dollars in financial support to the Pakistani Taliban.
The 12-person jury returned its verdict Monday after the two-month trial of Hafiz Khan. The 77-year-old imam at a Miami mosque was found guilty of two conspiracy counts and two counts of providing material support to terrorists.
Each charge carries a potential 15-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors built their case largely around hundreds of FBI recordings of conversations in which Khan expressed support for Taliban attacks and discussed sending about $50,000 to Pakistan.
Khan testified the money was for family, charity and business reasons. Khan also said he lied to an FBI informant about Taliban support in hopes of obtaining $1 million from him.