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Terrorist Support Trial
Thu January 3, 2013
Jury Selection Is Underway In Miami Imams' Taliban Case
Jury selection began Wednesday in the trial of two South Florida imams accused of financially supporting the Taliban.
Hafiz Khan, 77, and his 26-year-old son, Izhar Khan, are charged with funneling $50,000 to the Taliban in Pakistan.
Both men are U.S. citizens born in Pakistan. Hafiz headed the Flagler Mosque in Miami. His son oversaw the Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen mosque in Margate.
In May of 2011, the two men were arrested along with Irfan Kahn, another son of Hafiz. Charges have since been dropped against Irfan, a former Miami taxi driver.
Both Hafiz Khan and Izhar Khan have pleaded not guilt to charges of conspiracy and material support to terrorism, saying their money was intended to support family members in a particularly violent part of Pakistan.
The Sun Sentinel's Paula McMahon has a good summary of everything you need to know before opening arguments start:
Though Hafiz Khan looks frail and confused and comes to court in a wheelchair the judge ruled he was mentally competent for trial and there was evidence he exaggerated some memory problems. At prosecutors' request, jurors shouldn't see the wheelchair, which federal marshals said is used only for convenience to move him quickly from his cell to court.
Izhar Khan was a popular, soft-spoken leader at Margate's moderate Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen mosque off Sample Road, congregation members said.
The young man reserved his fervor for basketball and cricket, supporters said. They said he was known for preaching tolerance of other religions and his in-depth religious knowledge. He lived in the U.S. since age 8, records show.
Prosecutors said their case against the father, Hafiz Khan, who led the Flagler Mosque since the late 1990s, is stronger than against the son. They say the younger imam collected $300 from a U.S. donor for his father and sent $900 to his sister in Pakistan that his father told him was for terrorists.
The AP reported on Wednesday that potential jurors are being asked to complete a four-page questionnaire before selection takes place.
"[U.S. District Judge Robert Scola] told jurors to pay particular attention to the written questions about their ability to be fair in a terrorism case," AP reporter Curt Anderson wrote, "which can stoke strong emotions because of U.S. involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the 9/11 terror attacks."
The trial is expected to last more than a month.