U.S. News

Afghan charged in New York with financing Taliban

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors unveiled new charges Tuesday against an Afghan man accused of conspiring to finance Taliban terrorist activities.

Haji Juma Khan was charged with narco-terrorism, conspiracy to fund and financing terrorism in a superseding indictment unsealed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.

Khan, 55, was handed over to U.S. officials by Indonesia and brought to the United States in October. He initially faced a single charge of conspiring to distribute narcotics with intent to support a terrorist organization.

U.S. authorities say he is among the first defendants to be prosecuted under a 2006 federal narco-terrorism statute.

Since 1999, Khan has led an international opium, morphine and heroin trafficking group that arranged to sell morphine base, an opium derivative that is processed into heroin, in quantities as large as 40 metric tons -- enough to supply the U.S. heroin market for two years, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors say Khan is closely aligned with the Taliban, designated by the United States as a global terrorist group since 2002.

“After the United States military intervention in Afghanistan, Khan has supported the Taliban’s efforts to forcibly remove the United States and its allies from Afghanistan,” the indictment said.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of life in prison.

Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Michelle Nichols and Todd Eastham