MIAMI -- A judge on Monday denied bond to two Florida imams facing charges of funneling money to the Taliban in Pakistan, siding with prosecutors who said the two men could be a risk to the community.
The imams -- a father and son -- are among a half-dozen co-conspirators who, according to court documents, are accused of sending more than $50,000 to the Taliban.
Hafiz Khan, 72, pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday. His 24-year-old son, Izhar Khan, was given an additional week to enter a plea in the case after only recently retaining a permanent attorney.
In denying the men bond, Magistrate Judge Barry Garber ruled that they pose a risk to the community and would be a flight risk, saying prosecutors' evidence showed that Hafiz Khan has a history of obtaining false travel documents.
Five of the defendants in the alleged plot are Khan family members. They include Hafiz Khan's daughter, Amina Khan, and grandson, Alam Zeb, both of whom were arrested in Pakistan with another man, Ali Rehman, for helping supply money to the Taliban to buy weapons and explosives.
Another son of Hafiz Khan, Irfan Khan, was arrested in Los Angeles. On Thursday, a California federal judge denied bond for him and ordered him transferred to Florida to await trial with his alleged accomplices.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley last week filed notice he intends to introduce evidence obtained through electronic surveillance as allowed under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The indictment refers to 15 conversations between various defendants as well as unindicted co-conspirators that took place between April 2008 and September 2010. That includes an alleged February 2010 conversation between Hafiz Khan and an unnamed individual in Pakistan who warned Khan about the dangers of talking about the Taliban over the telephone.
The indictment also cites other discussions during which the defendants called for toppling the Pakistani government and assassinating the country's president, as well as how to send money to the Taliban without getting caught.
The four-count indictment charges the six defendants of conspiracy to murder, maim and kidnap people overseas, and conspiring to provide material support to the Pakistani Taliban. The defendants are also accused of conspiring to provide safe havens to Taliban members.
In California federal court, Irfan Khan's attorney, Jill Ginstling, told the judge authorities "should not hold someone responsible for the things his father" did.
The senior Khan is painted as the alleged leader of the group in the indictment. His lawyer describes him as a frail elderly man who led daily prayers at the Flagler Mosque in Miami.
"We are very concerned about his health. ... Our primary focus is getting him released," said the attorney, Khurrum Wahid.
Asad Ba-Yunus with the Islamic Society of North America said little children in the community described the elder imam with a long white beard as the "Muslim Santa Claus."
The federal government's depiction of Hafiz Khan is entirely different. In the indictment, Khan is accused of sending children from his madrassa, or Islamic school, to be taught how to kill Americans in Afghanistan.
"There are very heavy accusations; they are pretty serious," said Nezar Hamze, executive director of the South Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"However, we need to be patient and let our justice system work," Hamze said.
A large number of members from Izhar Khan's mosque in North Lauderdale came to the court hearing last week to show their support.
Bail Denied For Alleged Pakistani Taliban Funding Conspirators
Khan's son, Irfan Khan, was arrested in El Segundo.
The Pakistani Taliban took responsibility in the deadly attacks.