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Indicted as Taliban financier, ‘Santa Claus imam’ gets profiled

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 22, 2011 | 1:49 pm

The Miami Herald has a decent profile of one of the Florida imams indicted by federal authorities for allegedly funneling money to the Taliban. The story’s focus is the “Santa Claus iman,” aka Hafiz Muhammad Sher Ali Khan, the 76-year-old leader of a tiny mosque in Miami.

The Herald reported:

Authorities contend Hafiz Khan — was an influential figure back home who controlled the pipeline of money between Miami and the Pakistani Taliban, which used it to fund an escalating series of bombings. The group, closely affiliated with al Qaeda, was linked to an attempted car bombing last year in New York’s Times Square, and took credit for suicide bombings last week in Pakistan that killed nearly 90 people.

Before the arrests, Hafiz Khan was a relatively obscure cleric in an aging mosque in a poor neighborhood near West Miami.

(skip)

Mohammad Shakir, executive director of the Miami-Dade Asian Advisory Board, said Hafiz Khan’s sermons never strayed from traditional do’s and don’ts.

“I usually try to pay attention to any political tone in sermons,’’ said Shakir, who speaks Urdu, “In that respect, he was completely devoid of any kind of politics.’’

Not that being an obscure cleric is mutually exclusive from supporting the Taliban. I also do not intend to suggest that he is guilty as charged, but this story definitely gives the impression that the Santa Claus imam doesn’t fit the feds’ bill. Read the rest here.

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