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Father-son imams on trial in Miami

Jan. 4, 2013 at 5:08 PM   |   Comments

MIAMI, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- A Muslim imam, with a mosque in Miami, and his son raised money to arm the Pakistani Taliban, U.S. prosecutors said Friday.

Lawyers gave opening statements in the trial of Hafiz Khan, 77, and Izhar Khan, 26, also an imam, The Miami Herald reported. Both are charged with conspiracy and material support to terrorism.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley told a jury in federal court in Miami that Hafiz Khan wanted to help the Taliban overthrow the Pakistani government and attack U.S. citizens.

"This is no man of peace," Shipley said. "This is not a religious leader that any of you would respect.''

Prosecutors plan to use recordings of Hafiz Khan's telephone calls, bank records and testimony from an undercover informant to make their case. But his lawyer, Khurrum Wahid, described violent statements as "hyperbole" and said Khan was sending money to a madrassa he founded in the Swat Valley, his birthplace.

"You're going to hear he loved helping the poor and needy," Wahid said. "You're going to hear he's not pro-Taliban. In fact, it's quite the contrary."

Prosecutors say they can prove that Izhar Khan helped his father raise money even though he knew where it would be sent. Joseph Rosenbaum, Izhar Khan's lawyer, said there is no hard evidence.

Rosenbaum told jurors they are the only thing standing in the way of an innocent man's conviction.

Charges were dropped last year against another son. Hafiz Khan's daughter and grandson, both charged in the case, are in Pakistan, as is another defendant.

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