By Jim Kouri
The secretive Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice refuses to explain why prosecutors suspiciously dropped terrorism charges against a member of a Middle Eastern family indicted in south Florida last year for allegedly providing material support to the Pakistani Taliban, according to a Washington, D.C., watchdog group’s report this week.
Six people had been charged with sending tens of thousands of dollars to the terrorist organization, which is associated with radical Islamic groups, such as al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against American interests, including a 2009 suicide bombing at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, according to Judicial Watch.
The ringleader of the criminal conspiracy is a Pakistani imam, Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, who headed a mosque in Miami, Florida. Other conspirators named in the federal indictment include his sons, a daughter and a grandson, according to the federal indictment.
In the past, Khan founded an Islamic school that supports the Taliban’s jihad while living in Pakistan and continued controlling and funding it as an imam in Miami, according to a federal indictment. He used the school to provide shelter and support for Taliban soldiers and to train children how to kill Americans in Afghanistan, the indictment says. The rest of the family helped create a network that flowed money from the U.S. to Pakistan to purchase guns for the Taliban, according to the feds.
The Taliban, which targets both U.S. and Pakistani interests, is suspected of playing a role in the failed May 2010 attempt to bomb New York’s Times Square, among other attacks.
The story made headlines nationally because the FBI raided the mosque with terrorist ties in a manner that assured cultural sensitivity towards Islam. Federal agents actually waited for prayer service to end before moving in out of respect for Muslims and they took their shoes off prior to entering the mosque as per Islamic tradition.
It made for “kindlier, gentler arrests,” under the Obama Administration’s new rules of engagement to assure more sensitivity toward religious practices, according to Judicial Watch.
But a few days ago, Justice Department prosecutors secretly dismissed terrorism charges against the imam’s 39-year-old son, Irfan Khan, in custody for nearly a year and facing upwards of 10-years in prison. However, the charges against Khan’s father and younger brother stand and both entered not guilty pleas during their arraignment and are still in a federal detention facility in south Florida, according to Judicial Watch.
According to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, three other defendants in the case are fugitives believed to be in living in Pakistan. Federal prosecutors did not provide any explanation in a mysterious, one-paragraph filing dismissing the charges against Khan.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office handling the case in the Southern District of Florida confirmed that the court has granted the request for dismissal, but refused to elaborate. “We are unable to comment on the internal deliberations that led to our decision. However, the charges against his co-defendants remain in place and trial is pending for those defendants in U.S. custody,” Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in a written statement.
As always, heartfelt thanks to Judicial Watch director of public affairs Jill Farrell and her staff for their valuable help and information.