FLORIDA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) refuses to explain why it has abruptly dropped terrorism charges against a member of a Middle Eastern family indicted in south Florida last year with providing material support for the Pakistani Taliban.
In all, six people were charged with sending tens of thousands of dollars to the terrorist organization, which is associated with Al-Qaeda and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against American interests, including a 2009 suicide bombing at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. The ringleader in this case is a Pakistani imam (Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan) who ran a mosque in Miami. The others include his sons, daughter and grandson.
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 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.
A few days ago the feds secretly dismissed the terrorism charges against the imam’s 39-year-old son, Irfan Khan, in custody for nearly a year and facing up to a decade and a half in jail. Charges against Khan’s dad and younger brother stand and both have pleaded not guilty and remain in custody in south Florida. A local newspaper says the three other defendants are fugitives believed to be in Pakistan. Federal prosecutors did not provide any explanation in a mysterious, one-graph 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,” the spokeswoman told the local paper in a written statement.