US charges 6 Pakistani Americans, including 2 imams, with aiding Taliban

The US Department of Justice has charged six Pakistani Americans today with aiding the Pakistani Taliban. Three of those charged, including two imams at mosques in southern Florida, have been arrested, while three others are currently in Pakistan.

The six people have been identified as Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan; his two sons, Irfan and Izhar; his daughter Amina and her son Zeb; and another man known as Faisal Ali Rehman.

Hafiz and Izhar were arrested in Florida today, while Irfan was arrested in Los Angeles. Amina, Zeb, and Rehman are currently in Pakistan, beyond the reach of US officials.

Both Hafiz and Izhar are imams at mosques in southern Florida. Hafiz is the imam at the Miami Mosque, which is also known as the Flagler Mosque. Izhar is the imam at the Jamaat Al-Mu’mineen Mosque in Margate.

The six Pakistani Americans have been charged with “conspiring to provide, and providing, material support to a conspiracy to murder, maim and kidnap persons overseas, as well as conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically, the Pakistani Taliban,” the Department of Justice said in a press release issued today. In addition to the conspiracy charges, Hafiz, Rehman, and Zeb have also been charged with “providing material support to the Pakistani Taliban.”

“The defendants sought to aid the Pakistani Taliban’s fight against the Pakistani government and its perceived allies, including the United States, by supporting acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming in Pakistan and elsewhere, in order to displace the lawful government of Pakistan and to establish strict Islamic law known as Sharia,” the statement continued.

The Department of justice singled out Hafiz for “founding and controlling” a madrassa, or religious school for Muslims, in the district of Swat in Pakistan. The madrassa has been used by the Pakistani Taliban to train child terrorists to kill US troops in Pakistan.

“Khan has allegedly used the madrassa to provide shelter and other support for the Pakistani Taliban and has sent children from his madrassa to learn to kill Americans in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

Both Hafiz and Irfan were recorded taking part in conversations that advocated violence against the Pakistani state and US troops in Afghanistan.

“On one occasion in July 2009, defendants [Hafiz] Khan and Irfan Khan participated in a recorded conversation in which Khan called for an attack on the Pakistani Assembly that would resemble the September 2008 suicide bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan,” the Justice statement said. “On another occasion in September 2010, Hafiz Khan participated in a conversation in which he stated that he would provide that individual with contact information for Pakistani Taliban militants in Karachi, and upon hearing that mujahideen in Afghanistan had killed seven American soldiers, declared his wish that God kill 50,000 more.”

The Department of Justice attempted to tiptoe around the fact that Hafiz and Izhar are Muslim imams at US mosques. At three different points in the announcement, Justice attempted to distance the arrests and actions from the wider Muslim community. Two Justice Department officials were directly quoted denying any links between the arrests and Islam.

“Let me be clear that this is not an indictment against a particular community or religion,” US Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated.”Instead, today’s indictment charges six individuals for promoting terror and violence through their financial and other support of the Pakistani Taliban. Radical extremists know no boundaries; they come in all shapes and sizes and are not limited by religion, age or geography.”

“I remind everyone that the Muslim and Arab-American members of our community should never be judged by the illegal activities of a few,” John Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Office, was quoted in the Justice press release.

Also, the Justice Department denied any connection between the mosques that Hafiz and Izhar ran and the actions of the accused.

“The indictment does not charge the mosques themselves with any wrongdoing, and the individual defendants are charged based on their provision of material support to terrorism, not on their religious beliefs or teachings,” the Justice statement said.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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9 Comments

  • KW64 says:

    It is a little late in the day to try to pretend the terrorism threat we are dealing with does not have a moslem face to it. Fortunately, or perhaps because of the nature of American society, the spread of radicalism in the US moslem community is not to the extent we see in Britain and elsewhere. I would like to think that growing up in America has an influence on your value system.

  • Danram says:

    One of the penalties for treason in this country is still death, isn’t it?
    I think maybe we need to start using it.

  • Jack says:

    i am glad that i am not a Pakistanian

  • gpolk50 says:

    @KW64
    True, terrorism does have a Muslim face. But the powers that be go out of their way to downplay it so as not to further incite the Muslims into terrorism. The West (and by West I mean all non Muslim nations) will have to wait for an Islamic Reformation and meanwhile be victims of terrorism before there is any real change.

  • jared says:

    Mosques in America are rife with this. They celebrated on 9/11, recently mourned Bin Ladin, and cast hate on Israel – all from the comfort of America. Outsie the mosque they may be less inclined, but those who attend regularly are definately anti-american pro-Islamic.

  • gary siebel says:

    Religious wars tend to last longer than most (hence, The Long War Journal aptly named), and they go through some predictable processes, such as “witch hunts” to ferret out the true believers from the false, and religious indoctrination from an early age to guarantee an army of recruits.
    America defeats all that in the long run with basic materialism. Hardcore religious ascetics have virtually no chance of ever becoming the majority here because people wish they had all the cool junk we do. Garages full of it. And because we are so huge, those who invade eventually become one of us, anyway. They watch tv like everybody else.
    Islam is likely to become Americanized in the long run, but future historians will call this the era of the Islamic Crusades against anything of Euro origin (including America), and like those Crusades, will probably last at least another generation, probably longer.
    Eventually, like the Christian Crusades of an earlier era, people will just get tired of it and quit.

  • Wake Up says:

    I was muslim for nearly a decade. All I’m going to say is that the narrative of many Friday sermons is about how Islam is Allah’s light that He will perfect despite the enemies of Islam and their plots.
    And who are the enemies of Islam? Why anything and everyone that makes Islam look bad. Muslims aren’t encouraged to analyze and even criticize their own faith in order to develop and progress because such actions are seen as anti-Islamic and thus punishable by exclusion from the society of other Muslims. You either tow the line or get out of the boat.

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    How can you reason with people who have an 11th century mindset? Sadly, terror has taken on a moslem face, and its a stain on the religion. When will they grow out of it? I don’t think it will happen for a very long time. Generations. If the FBI isn’t watching these guys, listening to them, they should. The UK has seen riots, France, but not here-yet.

  • nolan says:

    “the individual defendants are charged based on their provision of material support to terrorism, not on their religious beliefs or teachings,” the Justice statement said.
    Yet..
    He declared his wish that “God kill 50,000 more.”
    Sounds like he believes God has a hand in this, no?
    Thats Religilious

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