A Miami imam and his son appeared in federal court Monday on charges they helped support the Pakistani Taliban, and that the imam helped train young terrorists.
Seventy-six-year-old Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan and his 24-year-old son Izhar Khan, who leads a Margate mosque, didn't speak much during their first court appearance, but the elder Khan's attorney said his client would plead not guilty to the charges.
"I hope the community understands there is presumption of innocence," attorney Khurrum Wahid said. "We are looking forward to our day in court so that my client can be vindicated."
Another of Khan's sons, 37-year-old Irfan Khan, is due to appear in Los Angeles, where he was arrested.
All three are accused of funneling about $50,000 to promote the terrorist organization.
A federal indictment accused the Khans of sending the money to help buy guns and help support militants' families.
Hafiz Khan is also accused of using a religious school he owns in Pakistan to train kids to become militants, the FBI claimed.
Khan's relatives called the allegations "baseless."
Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the case Monday.
A local Muslim leader said the FBI sting may have been the result of a misunderstanding and not terrorist activity.
Nezar Hamze, executive director of the South Florida Chapter of the Council for American Islamic Relations, described Khan as a peaceful person and that he had heard the man's sermons many times on tape.
"Our biggest concern is backlash in the community against the overwhelmingly peaceful Muslim community," he said. "There is no place for terrorism in Islam."
The next scheduled court date is May 23.