CAIRO – Celebrating the release of their long-awaited imam, worshippers at Miami oldest mosque welcomed Izhar Khan at Margate mosque after he was cleared from terrorism charges.
“I’m extremely happy,” Khan told CBS4′s Gary Nelson.
“I don’t have words to explain my joy.”
The Imam was embraced by scores of his congregants, the day after a federal judge cleared him from terrorism-related charges last Thursday.
Khan, his elderly 77-year-old father Hafiz Khan and brother Irfan, were arrested in May 2011 on charges of promoting terror through their financial support of the Pakistani Taliban.
The FBI claimed the imam sent about $50,000 over the past three years to the school in Pakistan, which US investigators say is a madrassa religious school that espouses extremist views.
Yet, mosque attendants confirmed that Khan has operated a school in Pakistan since the 1970s.
The school, or madrassa, is attended by 200 girls, 34 boys and many children orphaned as a result of the US-led war in Afghanistan.
After 20 months of imprisonment, most of it in solitary confinement, a federal judge dropped terrorism-related charges against Khan.
The bearded Khan said that, while he is not bitter against the government; he said he believes he was targeted because “of the way I look.”
“It’s something that happens, but it’s not….pervasive,” said Fazal Deen, the secretary of the mosque.
Syed Ali came to services with his sons, big Miami Heat fans, and wished them a normal future.
“We have to make sure we provide an environment for these kids to grow up and live a normal life, just like every other kid,” Ali said.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, US Muslims, estimated by 7-8 million, have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.
A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent report issued last May 2011 criticized the tactic of US law enforcement agencies aiming at trapping Muslims into terror plots.
The report, themed “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’, criticized the government’s tactic of sending informants into mosques to entrap Muslims into terror plots.
According to the report, the informants were sent into Muslim communities without any basis for suspicion or current or eventual criminal activity.