Mosque Member: Imam's Arrest 'A Shock'
Updated On: May 16 2011 12:42:33 PM EDT
After the arrests of two imams of South Florida mosques on allegations that they helped the Pakistani Taliban, those who know the two men spoke out about them Saturday.
Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, and his sons, Irfan Khan, 37, and Izhar Khan, 24, have been arrested. Hafiz Khan is the imam at the Miami Mosque, also known as the Flagler Mosque. Izhar Khan is an imam at the Jamaat Al-Mu?mineen Mosque in Margate.
When Navine Singh needed help supporting his family a year ago, Izhar Khan, the imam at the mosque he attended, offered part of his North Lauderdale home.
"From my personal experience, he's a very nice guy," Singh said. "He comes in. He has a bed there, a bathroom, but he's hardly here. He's always at the mosque.
Singh said Khan practiced what he preached and always encouraged peace and understanding at his mosque. Khan led Sunday worship there and was known for his work with children.
"He'd have interfaith, where he'd go to Jewish, Christian and everything and they have all this involvement in the community," Singh said.
The FBI said Saturday that Khan supported and funded radical Islamist militants associated with the Pakistani Taliban.
"It's just kind of a shock today, kind of a shock," Singh said.
The two-year FBI-led investigation revealed that Kahn and his brother and father wire-transferred at least $50,00O to Taliban efforts, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. It is still unclear where that money came from, but members of the mosque share common concerns.
"They collect donations to help support the mosque, which is what it should be used for," Singh said.
"Is there concern that that money might have gone overseas without you guys knowing it?" Local 10's Jonathan Vigliotti asked.
"Yeah, there might be concern, because we all donate money," Singh said.
The president of the Jamaat Al-Mu?mineen Mosque told the media that the FBI has their full support as the investigation continues. The president pointed out that no other member of the mosque is under investigation and that the mosque is giving its full cooperation.
Khan is set to appear in federal court Monday.
Neighbors: Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan Kept To Self
People who live next door to Izhar Khan's father, Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, the imam at the Flagler Mosque, said he kept to himself.
Despite living near Hafiz Khan for more than 10 years, neighbors who spoke to Local 10 said he was quiet and they never heard from him.
A neighbor who did not want to be identified said Hafiz Khan was "mysterious and odd" and had a white beard.
A note on the door of the mosque said he has been removed and that the mosque rejects any act that supports terrorism.
Another neighbor said she saw Khan going to lead worship at the mosque for years and that he seemed friendly.
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