(CN) - A federal judge acquitted a Florida imam accused of conspiring to help the Taliban, refusing to give weight to the apparent guilt of the defendant's father's on similar charges.
"This court will not allow the sins of the father to be visited upon the son," U.S. District Judge Robert Scola wrote Thursday.
Izhar Khan was charged in the Southern District of Florida with participating in a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; participating in a conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization; and providing, or attempting to provide, material support to terrorists.
Both Izhar Khan and his father, Hafiz Khan, led mosques in Florida. Hafiz, who served as an imam at a Miami mosque, was recorded speaking "openly and brazenly about his support for the following; Jihad (holy war), the Taliban, the Mujahideen (fighters), the death of American soldiers, the death of the Pakistani Assembly and its members, and the death of Pakistani army soldiers and police officers," according to the ruling.
"He spoke of raising money that would be used to support the Taliban in its efforts to violently overthrow the Pakistani government and impose Sharia law in Pakistan," Scola added. "He actually did send money to friends and family in Pakistan knowing that the money was going to be directed to support the Pakistani Taliban. He praised many of the Taliban's violent acts, including the use of suicide bombers who killed troops and police officers, the attempted bombing in Times Square, the bombing of a hotel in Islamabad, and numerous other acts of violence in the name of Jihad."
On this basis, Scola noted that he refused to acquit Hafiz.
"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," the ruling states.
Scola noted that Izhar Khan served as an imam at a mosque in Miramar, Fla.
Investigators recorded six telephone calls he had with his father; one brief face-to-face meeting with the confidential informant, and conversation he had with his father while they sat in a police vehicle after being arrested.
"Although the father spoke openly and brazenly about the Taliban, Jihad, and the Mujahideen with numerous other individuals, he never mentioned those terms during the phone calls with his son," according to the ruling. "Nor did the father talk to his son about supporting the violent overthrow of the Pakistani government or the killing of American or Pakistani soldiers. Although the father was recorded talking openly with others about his daughter Amina Khan's support of the Taliban, he was never recorded telling anyone that Izhar Khan supported the Taliban."
Izhar Khan also never discussed anything incriminating with or in front of the confidential informant, the court found.
Investigators did show that Izhar Khan helped send money to Pakistan, but they failed to show that he intended for the funds to support illegal activities.
The sole evidence of this charge "was a voicemail the father left on Izhar Khan's cell phone in which the father asked Izhar Khan to pick up a $300.00 check from Dr. Zakia Subhani to be sent to Pakistan for the 'Mujahideen,'" Scola wrote.
"Yet even in the light most favorable to the government, the evidence does not establish that