Hafiz and Izhar Khan, Alleged "Terror Imams," Head to Court this Afternoon
The Flagler Mosque
via Google Streetview
The father-and-son Miami imams charged this weekend with aiding Pakistani terrorists will make their first appearance in court today at 1:30 pm as South Florida's Muslim community tries to come to grips with the accusations.
The Miami Herald says that the case against Hafiz and Izhar Khan is actually a bright new day of cooperation between local Muslims and the feds, but then forgets to mention its own weekend scoop that another alleged local "terror" case -- against dozens of Lebanese head shop owners -- completely fell apart over the weekend.
It's the Khan case that drew headlines from New York to India over the weekend, and understandably so.
According to federal prosecutors, the elder Khan -- leader of the historic Flagler Mosque, wedged just southeast of where the Palmetto and Dolphin Expressways meet -- and his son, Izhar, who led a Margate mosque, sent financial aid to the Taliban in Pakistan.
The elder Khan lived for a time in the volatile Swat Valley and helped build a madrassa there were Taliban were welcomed and trained, prosecutors say.
The Herald says by alerting Muslims leaders in advance and taking cultural precautions like removing their shoes before storming the Flagler Mosque to arrest Hafiz Khan, the feds helped smooth the shock of the arrests in the Muslims community.
We're weeks away from any evidence against the Khans being presented in court, but if there's any skepticism out there in South Florida's mosques, it's understandable.
Lost in the hubbub of the Khans arrest was an announcement that an earlier splashy "anti-terrorism" raid against dozens of local head shops had disintegrated.
The two-year operation, called "Operation Cedar Sweep" in reference to Lebanon's flag, charged 27 head shop owners with selling chemicals to drug dealers used to cut cocaine into larger batches, then using the proceeds to terrorist groups in the Middle East.
Charges were dropped against all the defendants this weekend, a "highly unusual" move, David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor, tells The Herald.
Based on what prosecutors have released so far, the case against the Khans sounds much more substantial. They'll face U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Garber this afternoon.
But this isn't the first time a terror case in Miami has drawn worldwide headlines only to fall apart under scrutiny. Anyone else remember the Liberty City 7?