Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. He was the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
South Florida imam Izhar Khan is a favorite of mosques for his lectures on death and afterlife. They all ignore his travails with the US government, which accused him of causing deaths, himself, by conspiring with members of his family to supply the Taliban with tens of thousands of dollars to kill American troops overseas. More than a decade following his imprisonment, Khan has, for the first time, spoken out about his experience, claiming ignorance for his alleged deeds, while cursing those who placed him behind bars.
Izhar ul-Haq Khan grew up in Pakistan and, in 1994, moved to America at the age of eight, following his father Hafiz and brother Irfan who arrived the previous year. As a teen, Khan attended Darul-Uloom Al-Madania, a boarding school located in Buffalo, New York, which has been described as an extremist indoctrination center. While there, the Principal of the school, Mohammed Ibrahim Memon, who was then-married with children, took up a sexual relationship (‘secret marriage’) with one of the female students, an act of misconduct that got him recently suspended from the school. Memon’s many lectures are still found on Darul Uloom’s website.
Following his graduation in 2008 and coming with the “highest recommendation” from the scandalous Memon, Khan was hired by Margate, Florida’s Masjid Jamaat Al-Mu’mineen (MJAM) to become the mosque’s new imam. MJAM, itself, currently promotes extreme materials: endorsing female genital mutilation and domestic violence against women, sanctioning death punishments for homosexuals, and labeling Jews and Christians as “the enemies of Islam and its people.”
On May 14, 2011, three years after his hiring, Khan was arrested and spent 20 months in a Miami federal detention center for his alleged participation in a scheme to ship $50,000 to the Taliban for the purpose of murdering US troops. The indictment against him and members of his family read in part: “Izhar is a Pakistani Taliban sympathizer who worked with… others to collect and deliver money for the Pakistani Taliban” and “provided and attempted to provide material support and resources… knowing and intending that they be used in preparation for and in carrying out… a conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim persons in a foreign country.”
On May 25, 2011, the court ruled that Khan and his father were flight risks and “posed a danger to the community” and ordered them detained “until the conclusion of the trial.” In the ruling, Magistrate Judge Barry Garber cited the US government’s proffer claiming that Khan “played an important… role” in the conspiracy, that he “collected money in the United States that was intended for mujahideen in Pakistan, sent money to Pakistan to a Pakistani Taliban sympathizer, and gave money himself to the mujahideen while traveling to Pakistan in 2009.” Judge Garber said that the evidence against Khan and his father was “compelling.”
According to the US government, Khan collected money for the “mujahideen” at the behest of his father Hafiz, the same Hafiz who upon learning that four American soldiers were murdered in Afghanistan, declared his wish that “400,000 more Americans were killed” and, upon hearing that seven US troops had died in a helicopter crash, stated “May God kill 50,000 more of them.” One of the individuals Khan allegedly gave money to was a Taliban fighter located in Karachi named Noor Muhammad, who in 2010, acknowledged that Khan had been providing money to the Taliban for at least five years. Travel records show that Khan visited Karachi in Spring 2009.
Last month, Khan was a featured speaker at the Seventh Annual Retreat organized by DarusSalam Foundation, a Chicago-area mosque in Illinois. The event was a discussion about afterlife. Khan lectures frequently at various mosques on the subject of death and the Islamic view of afterlife. He essentially claims that Muslim believers enjoy Jannah (Paradise) and the rest suffer eternal damnation in Jahannam (Hellfire), while he provides specific details about each, which he gleans from Islamic sources.
Other speakers included: Hamza Mehter, who gets upset when Muslims partner with LGBT over Palestinians and wishes for the destruction of Israel and her allies, writing, in May 2021, “There is a genocide taking place in Palestine… May Allah destroy and remove the oppressors, those who aid them, the abettors, and those who are complicit in their crimes.” And Yahya Rhodus, an apologist for al-Qaeda, who during an interview broadcast February 2004, said it was “offensive” to ask him or others to condemn Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, saying it was wrong “to talk bad about someone behind their back without sufficient knowledge of that person.”
During his talk, titled ‘A Tour Through Paradise,’ Khan spoke publicly for the first time about his imprisonment. He compared it to that of Muslim Scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, who according to Khan, would say, while in jail: “What can my enemy do to me? If they kill me, I’ll hope to attain the status of a shahid (martyr)… If they send me into exile… I have more time for tourism and seeing the creation of Allah… And if they imprison me, then I have more time to do the vigor of Allah and to recite the Quran. So what could my enemy do to me?” Khan said the words “resonated” with him “on a personal level,” that he had been “tested in a similar way.”
Khan called his time in jail, which included 16 months in solitary confinement, a “win-win situation.” And while he claimed to have benefitted from being placed behind bars by his “enemy,” he also claimed not to know why he went through what he did. Khan said, “[E]ven up to now, I have no idea as to why I was in prison and I was arrested.” In his mind, he may actually believe that the financing of and/or interaction with the Taliban is perfectly legitimate or that his beloved father praying for US troops’ murders is a valid political stance.
Khan further stated that eventually his case was thrown out, something that he himself said he was “shocked” over (His father, on the other hand, received a 25-year sentence.) Though it is true that Khan was ultimately released from jail by a sympathetic judge, it does not mean he was innocent, not legally or otherwise.
Indeed, as mentioned earlier, in 2011, the court determined Khan “posed a danger” to others, a ruling that appears to have had no impact on Khan’s fellow Muslims. It seems the entire Muslim community has ignored Khan’s past, as Khan is invited from mosque to mosque to speak, and according to him, which he mentioned during his lecture at the retreat, he never gets asked about it. Not from anyone. However, he does get asked a lot about one thing, death, just not the death he and his family might have caused.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.
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