Hours after a federal judge dismissed terrorism support and conspiracy charges against him, a young Muslim cleric on Thursday said he hopes his father similarly is cleared of such charges.
“I'm hoping he will get released soon,” said Izhar Khan, 26, an imam at a mosque in suburban Margate north of Fort Lauderdale. “Justice will be served. Only time will tell.”
Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola issued a verdict of acquittal for the younger Khan, saying there was insufficient evidence against him.
Izhar Khan said he was “shocked” that the justice system worked in his favor. "The judge was very attentive and intelligent,” he said. “I'm confident the same thing will be with my dad.”
In 2011, Khan and his father, Hafiz Khan, were arrested and accused of funneling money to the Pakistani Taliban.
Hafiz Khan’s request for an acquittal was denied, and his trial will go forward in Miami federal court. The elder Khan, 77, is on trial for four terrorism support-related charges that each carry maximum 15-year prison sentences.
Thursday, Izhar Khan recalled being placed in solitary confinement for 16 months, then placed with the general population at a detention center. Now a free man, he said he is happy.
"I don't have words to describe my joy," he said. "I have no bitter feelings against the government. I'm actually impressed with the justice system."
Charges against another of Hafiz Khan's sons were dropped earlier by prosecutors.
Izhar Khan said his family is being targeted, calling the allegations a “misunderstanding.” He said he will go back to his mosque in Margate to “bring the community together.”
In a seven-page document released Thursday, Scola said the evidence against the elder Khan is “overwhelming.” But the judge said that was no reason to bring Izhar Khan down with his father.
“This court will not allow the sins of the father to be visited upon the son,” Scola wrote.
Also in his ruling, Scola said that a "reasonable jury" wouldn’t be able to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Izhar Khan had the knowledge or intent to commit such crimes.
“In contrast to the overwhelming evidence against the father, the evidence against the son, Izhar Khan, falls short of the amount needed to sustain a conviction,” Scola wrote.
Khan’s attorney, Joseph Rosenbaum, accused the federal government of misreading and misstating evidence.
“There were a lot of assumptions,” Rosenbaum said.
A prayer service has been scheduled for Friday afternoon at the Margate mosque.
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