MIAMI - After 20 months of litigation, a federal judge dropped terrorism-related charges against two South Florida Muslim imams who were accused of funneling money to Pakistan Taliban, a charge they have denied fiercely.
The Court finds that no rational trier of fact could find all the essential elements of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt, US District Judge Robert Scola wrote in the seven-page order acquitting the imams.
Hafiz Khan, an elderly 77-year-old imam and two sons (Irfan and Izhar Khan) were arrested in May 2011 on charges of promoting terror through their financial support of the Pakistani Taliban.
The FBI claimed the imam sent about $50,000 over the past three years to the school in Pakistan, which US investigators say is a madrassa religious school that espouses extremist views.
Yet, mosque attendants confirmed that Khan has operated a school in Pakistan since the 1970s.
The school, or madrassa, is attended by 200 girls, 34 boys and many children orphaned as a result of the US-led war in Afghanistan.
"He [Hafiz Khan] actually did send money to friends and family in Pakistan knowing that the money was going to be directed to support the Pakistani Taliban," the judge said.
Izhar Khan was freed from jail after the judge's decision.
Charges against another son, who was also arrested at the time, were dropped last year because of insufficient evidence.
Hafiz Khan, the elderly imam, still faces four terrorism support-related charges that each carry maximum 15-year prison sentences.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, US Muslims, estimated by 7-8 million, have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.
A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent report issued last May 2011 criticized the tactic of US law enforcement agencies aiming at trapping Muslims into terror plots.
The report, themed Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the Homegrown Threat', criticized the government's tactic of sending informants into mosques to entrap Muslims into terror plots.
According to the report, the informants were sent into Muslim communities without any basis for suspicion or current or eventual criminal activity.