Florida imam Hafiz Kahn gets 25 years for supporting Pakistan Taliban


Imam Izhar Khan, left, and lawyer Joseph Rosenbaum speak to media about a federal judge's decision to throw out terrorism charges against him on January 17, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Police charged Khan and his father, Hafiz, in 2011 for providing funds to Pakistani Taliban. A court sentenced Hafiz to 25 years in prison on Aug. 23, 2013.


Joe Raedle

A Florida judge sentenced elderly Florida imam Hafiz Kahn to 25 years in prison on Friday for sending $50,000 to the Taliban in Pakistan, a sentence even stronger than what prosecutors had asked for.

Kahn, 78, spent years interacting with an FBI informant that led to hundreds of recorded conversations, the Associated Press reported.

Along with bank statements, the prosecution’s evidence secured four convictions.

Kahn told the informant that he hoped his money would help the terrorist organization punish Americans.

“May Allah utterly destroy them,” Kahn said on an FBI recording, according to the AP. “If they do not repent and do not revert to the right path.”

Police arrested Kahn and his two sons in 2011, but charges were dropped against one of them and a judge acquitted the other earlier this year due to lack of evidence.

The Pakistan-born imam said the $50,000 went to family, friends and a school he founded in the restive Swat Valley.

Kahn also said he was lying about his support of the Taliban, and faked his praise of terrorist attacks, to secure a $1-million donation from a donor.

That benefactor turned out to be an FBI plant, Reuters reported.

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Pakistani authorities shut down the school, which they said was hiding Taliban forces.

Kahn faced a maximum of 60 years in prison, although the prosecution asked for 15 years. Judge Robert Scola found Kahn guilty in March, CNN said.

Prosecutors said Khan sent money to family and friends in Pakistan between 2008 and 2010 that was funneled to the Taliban and some of the funds were used to buy weapons, Reuters said.

The Pakistani Taliban was formed by Islamic militants in 2007. The U.S. State Department declared it a foreign terrorist organization three years later.

The group has been connected to a December 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. military base in Khost, Afghanistan, that killed seven people. In 2011, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for suicide attacks that killed more than 80 people in northwestern Pakistan.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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