Three Muslim imams at the head of mosques in Florida were charged with conspiring to provide material support to a conspiracy to murder, injure and kidnap people abroad and providing support to the Taliban, a terrorist organization in Pakistan.
Financial transfers involving $50,000 abroad to the Taliban were mentioned in the indictment against the three men Hafiz Khan, 76, and his sons Irfan Khan, 37, and Izhar Khan, 24.
The four-count indictment is being served by Wifredo Ferrer – US attorney for the Southern District of Florida – and local FBI agents.
Hafiz Khan is the imam at the Flagler Mosque in Miami, and Izhar Khan leads the Jamaat al-Mumineen Mosque in nearby Margate, FL.
Three relatives of the men living in Pakistan were also charged.
Each person involved faces up to 15 years in jail.
Miami FBI special agent John Gillies said: “Today terrorists have lost another funding source to use against innocent people and US interests. We will not allow this country to be used as a base for funding and recruiting terrorists.”
Mr Ferrer said: “Despite being an imam… Hafiz Khan was by no means a man of peace. He acted with others to support terrorists to further acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming.”
Officials say the charges follow a three-year investigation into suspicious financial transactions and were based on phone conversations and money moving from U.S bank accounts to Pakistan.
Details about the indictment are now surfacing.
The indictment says that when Hafiz Khan heard seven American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in a recorded conversation, he said that he hoped God would kill 50,000 more.
Hafiz Khan, 76 is accused of funding a school to prepare children to fight for the Taliban.
“We have evidence that the madrassa was being used at his direction to shelter members of the Pakistan Taleban and prepare children to become mujahideen,” or Muslim fighters, Ferrer added.
Ikram Khan, another son of Hafiz Khan, said his father is not well and that his family supports the United States and not the Taliban.
The news comes after strings of violent uprisings by the Taliban in Pakistan, including a bomb blast by the Taliban that killed 80.
Saturday, at least five people were killed and 10 were injured when a bomb exploded on a bus near the town of Kharian near Islamabad.
FBI and Justice Department officials said that this was in no way an attack on Islam or the Muslim world.
“I think that’s very important to highlight so people don’t become fearful of the places of worship or the people that go there,” said Nezar Hamze, director of the Florida office of the Council of American-Islamic Relations.