A one-time Miami cab driver who was detained for nearly a year on charges alleging that he provided aid to Pakistani Taliban terrorists won’t face trial, after federal prosecutors dropped the case against him, according to a dismissal order filed Wednesday.
The U.S. attorney’s office provided no reason for dismissing charges against Irfan Khan, 39, a U.S. citizen who is married with two children. The one-paragraph dismissal order was signed Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Robert Scola.
“We are unable to comment on the internal deliberations that led to our decision,” said Alicia Valle, special counsel to U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. “However, the charges against his co-defendants remain in place and trial is pending for those defendants in U.S. custody.”
Khan was arrested in May 2011 in Los Angeles, where he was working part-time in a software computer job. He was indicted on charges of conspiring with his father and brother, imams who led two mosques in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and three others to provide financial support to the Pakistani Taliban, a designated terrorist organization.
Khan had been detained in the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami until April, when he was granted a bond by a federal magistrate judge.
“Irfan is obviously pleased that the government has recognized what we’ve long known — that he did not send any money to Pakistan to aid the Taliban,” said his attorney, Miami acting federal public defender Michael Caruso. “His happiness is tempered by his father and brother’s continued imprisonment, but he looks forward to rebuilding his life with his wife and two young children.”
Last year, Irfan Khan; his father, Hafiz Khan, 77, the former leader of a Miami mosque; his brother, Izhar Khan, 25, the one-time head of a Margate mosque; and three others were charged with conspiring to collect and send at least $50,000 from South Florida to the Taliban between 2008 and 2010. The other defendants — all believed to be living in Pakistan — are Irfan Khan’s sister, Amina Khan; her son, Alam Zeb; and Ali Rehman.
Irfan Khan, in particular, was accused of making four wire transfers — for $990, $980, $980, and $500 — to Pakistan, including one to his sister.
The FBI used a confidential informant, bank transfer records and more than 1,000 wiretapped phone calls to build the case, which made national headlines.
The Taliban has been accused of attacking both U.S. and Pakistani interests. It has been linked to al-Qaida, and is suspected of playing a role in the failed May 2010 attempt to bomb New York’s Times Square.
Last August, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan ordered that Hafiz Khan, the elderly Muslim cleric, and both of his sons remain in custody until trial. Jordan said evidence against the two younger Khans was less compelling than that against their father. But the judge decided the case was still strong enough to warrant detention, citing their danger to the community and risk of flight.
In April, however, Magistrate Judge Patrick White released Irfan Khan from detention to home confinement on a combined bond package totaling about $700,000. White granted the bond after prosecutors agreed to the terms proposed by Khan’s lawyers in exchange for their dropping his appeal.
His father and brother are still locked up and prohibited from having contact with each other in the federal detention center.
Their trial, a complex case built on wiretaps authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is set for early November.