Miami, A federal prosecution of an elderly Muslim cleric and his son on charges of terrorism in the United States has come under scrutiny after the cleric”s mental instability issues surfaced, and witnesses in Pakistan refused to travel to the U.S. to testify.
U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said there is “bonafide doubt” regarding 77-year-old Hafiz Khan”s mental fitness to stand trial, reports The Dawn.
Khan, a cleric at a downtown Miami mosque, is believed to be the ringleader of a group in the U.S. and Pakistan that sourced thousands of dollars to the Pakistani Taliban terror group.
If Khan is ultimately ruled incompetent for trial, Khan would undergo at least four months of treatment before a determination could be made on whether his competency might ever be restored.
The test for competency in federal court is whether a person can effectively consult with his or her lawyer and can understand the legal proceedings involved.
Khans two sons, Izhar and Irfan have also been charged with terrorist activities. Charges against Irfan were dismissed, but Izhar remains jailed along with his father on charges of providing material support to terrorists that carry potential maximum prison sentences of 15 years for each count. The trio was indicted in May 2011.
According to prosecutors, the three raised money to help the Pakistani Taliban carry out terror attacks. The outfit was also involved in the May 2010 attempted bomb attack in New York”s Times Square.
Three other accused – Khan”s daughter, Amina; Ali Rehman and Alam Zeb – remain in Pakistan. The fourth co-conspirator, Noor Mohammad, is said to be a Taliban fighter.
None of the four is willing to travel to the U.S. to testify, but are willing to give video depositions.