Florida Imam Found Guilty of Supporting Taliban

Elderly cleric claimed he was lying about supporting them

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 4, 2013 12:42 PM CST

(Newser) – Miami Muslim cleric Hafiz Khan was convicted of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists today, charges that could, given his advanced age, land him in prison for the rest of his life. During the trial, prosecutors trotted out hundreds of FBI recordings in which Khan, 77, expressed support for the Taliban, for the killing of US soldiers, and for the violent overthrow of Pakistan's government, and discussed sending around $50,000 to Pakistan, the AP reports.

But Khan's attorney says he was lying about his extremist views in the hopes of getting an extremist to donate $1 million to Khan's Swat Valley madrassa—little suspecting that the extremist was actually an FBI agent. "That is not supporting terrorism," his attorney argued. "That is an old guy running a scam, who got scammed." Prosecutors called that defense "a lie," saying that the million-dollar offer didn't appear on the tapes. Khan now faces up to 15 years in prison for each of the four counts he was convicted on.

In this May 16, 2011 artist rendering, Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, right, and one of his sons, 24-year-old Izhar Khan, left, are shown in federal court in Miami.
In this May 16, 2011 artist rendering, Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, right, and one of his sons, 24-year-old Izhar Khan, left, are shown in federal court in Miami.   (AP Photo/Shirley Henderson, File)
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