Federal prosecutors dropped all terrorism charges against one member of a South Florida family accused of sending tens of thousands of dollars to the Pakistani Taliban terrorist group, according to court documents filed Wednesday in Miami.
No reason was given in prosecutors' one-paragraph filing dismissing the charges against Irfan Khan, 39, of Miami.
Terrorism charges are still pending against his father Hafiz Khan, 77, and his younger brother, Izhar Khan, 25. Both have pleaded not guilty to the allegations. Their lawyers could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Izhar Khan was a soft-spoken, popular leader of the moderate Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen mosque in Margate before his arrest last year. His congregation said he only preached love and tolerance there. Hafiz Khan led the Miami Mosque, known as the Flagler Mosque.
The two are charged with collecting and funneling at least $50,000 from South Florida to the Taliban, between 2008 and 2010. Prosecutors used a confidential informant, bank transfer records and more than 1,000 wiretapped phone calls to make their case.
The Taliban, which targets both U.S. and Pakistani interests, has been linked to al-Qaida, and government terrorism experts say it had a role in the failed May 2010 attempt to bomb New York's Times Square, among other attacks.
Three other defendants — Ali Rehman, Alam Zeb and Amina Khan — are considered to be fugitives still at large in Pakistan. Amina Khan is the daughter of Hafiz Khan and Alam Zeb is her son.
"Irfan is obviously pleased that the government has recognized what we've long known — that he did not send any money to Pakistan to aid the Taliban," his attorney, acting Federal Public Defender Michael Caruso, said Wednesday in an emailed response to questions.
"His happiness is tempered by his father and brother's continued imprisonment, but he looks forward to rebuilding his life with his wife and two young children. He is also profoundly grateful for the support of his family, friends and the South Florida Muslim community during this difficult time," Caruso wrote.
Phone calls to Irfan Khan's home were not returned and other family members could not be contacted.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami confirmed the decision but would not elaborate.
"We moved to dismiss all charges against defendant Irfan Khan in the Southern District of Florida. The court has granted the request for dismissal. 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," Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a written statement.
Irfan Khan was released from the Federal Detention Center in Miami in April after a federal judge agreed he could be freed on a combined bond package totaling about $700,000. His father and brother remain locked up in the detention center in downtown Miami and are forbidden from having contact other than when they see each other at court hearings.
Trial for the remaining co-defendants is currently scheduled to begin Nov. 5, though it could be postponed because of the complexity of the case and the voluminous amounts of evidence in dispute. If convicted, they face punishment of up to 15 years in prison per count.
Defense attorneys have said in court that they are working their way through enormous amounts of evidence, including recordings of calls that have to be translated by professional interpreters, in order to prepare their clients' defense. Much of the evidence in the case was obtained from wiretapping and was collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is frequently used in terrorism cases.
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