Three Pakistani men arrested in the United States on suspicion of supporting the Pakistani Taliban originally come from the Swat district of northwestern Pakistan, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.
Saifullah Khan, an elder from the region, told Radio Mashaal that the men -- a father and two sons -- hailed from the village of Galoch, which neighbors his own town of Totano Bandai, located in the Kabal administrative district, or tehsil, of Swat.
Imam Hafiz Sher Ali Khan, 76, was arrested May 14 at a mosque in Miami, Florida, in the southeastern United States. His 24-year-old son, Izhar, who is also an imam, was arrested in a nearby town in Florida. Another son, 37-year-old Irfan was detained in Los Angeles, California, on the U.S. West Coast. All three men have U.S. citizenship.
Federal prosecutors have charged the men with providing some $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, a designated foreign terrorist organization. A U.S. prosecutor said the defendants were sending the money to help the Taliban buy weapons.
Three other people in Pakistan were also indicted on charges of handling the distribution of the funds, including Hafiz Khan's daughter, Aamana, and her son, Alam Zeb.
Saifullah Khan, who heads a local peace committee, says Aamana worked until recently as a schoolteacher near Galoch, but then resigned from her job and opened a madrasah in the village in response to pressure from local Taliban members, including the Swat Taliban leader, Maulana Fazlullah.
"One of their daughters was a teacher in the nearby government school, but she resigned from that job, took all of her government salary and donated it to the Taliban, because she thought that all her money was ill-gotten," Saifullah Khan said.
Saifullah Khan also said Aamana Khan's husband, Dawood Shah, who was working with her at the seminary, is currently being detained by Pakistani security forces. His name is not among those indicted in Pakistan, however.
Several local residents told Radio Mashaal that Aamana Khan and the other two people facing charges were from the region, and that Aamana Khan's madrasah is still operational.
Local police contacted by Radio Mashaal refused to comment, but said they had never investigated the imam's family or carried out a raid on the madrasah.
Hafiz and Ishar Khan are expected to appear in a U.S. federal court in Miami on May 16. It was not clear when Irfan Khan would be due in court. Each could face 15 years in prison for each of four counts of supporting a terrorist organization.
with agency reports