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Imam Arrests Show Shift In Muslim Outreach Effort
by Dina Temple-Raston
To understand the events that unfolded two months ago in Miami, you need to know that one of the most volatile things that can happen in a Muslim-American community is the arrest of a religious leader, the imam. Back in May, the FBI's Miami field office ended up arresting two of them: Imam Hafiz Khan and his son, Izhar Khan. They were charged along with several other members of the Khan family with financing terrorism in Pakistan.
Hafiz Khan is the leader of the Miami Mosque in west Miami — the oldest mosque in South Florida. His son runs the Masjid Jamaat al-Mumineen Mosque in Margate, Fla., just outside Miami. What makes these particular arrests unusual is the way the local Muslim community reacted to them: The arrests didn't spark outrage or demonstrations. Instead, the way they were handled is being lauded as a model for the way law enforcement and communities should work together.
"Obviously there is a lot of operational planning that goes on before an arrest takes place," says John Gillies, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami field office. "We wanted to be sensitive to the fact that the imams would be conducting religious services a number of times each day. There was going to be no good day to conduct these arrests, but there would be days to be worse to do it, like Friday."
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