The mother and father of suspected terrorist Mahin Khan spoke out publicly for the first time Thursday, releasing a statement via email exclusively to KGUN9.
Khan is charged with plotting terrorist attacks on buildings in Tucson and Phoenix. He was denied bail Wednesday and will remain in custody until his trial for the protection of the public. He sought to attack the Tucson Jewish Community Center, a Tucson LA Fitness location, and military recruiting centers in Tucson and Mission Bay, Calif., as well as a Motor Vehicle Division building in the Phoenix area. He was arrested July 1, shortly after he turned 18.
According to authorities, Khan coached an undercover FBI employee on how to build homemade grenades, and that he hoped to carry out attacks in the manner of Paris and Brussels to inspire an Islamic State insurgency in the United States.
Here is the statement:
We regret to share the events that have led to our son, Mahin Khan's, recent situation with law enforcement.
Since early childhood, Mahin has suffered with mental health issues including cognitive disorder and developmental delays, namely autism. His struggles with these conditions have been well documented throughout the years. Three years ago, Mahin went through an extensive inpatient psychiatric evaluation under the directive and supervision of the FBI. The evaluation documented the extent and severity of his mental health.
We have been fully cooperating with the FBI over the last three years to ensure that our son gets the help he needs. Mahin has gone through psychotherapy the past few years. Although he is now 18 years old, Mahin's mental age according to mental health professionals is less than 13. He has limited ability to function on his own. We believe that he does not pose any real threat to society. He simply does not have the mental capacity to carry out the horrendous acts he is being accused of planning.
We hope that no parents with a child with autism or mental illness should ever have to experience what we are going through. We strongly feel that the criminalization of individuals with mental illness is one of the most significant challenges in our punitive criminal justice system and Mahin undoubtedly falls into this category.
We appeal to our fellow citizens for understanding, and ask that our son not be stigmatized due to his mental illness. We are going through trauma as a result of the current situation. We ask for the privacy as this case moves forward in the court system. We appreciate the support from the community and those well aware of the situation.
Mr. & Mrs. Khan
In court Wednesday, prosecutor Blaine Gadow said Khan's parents had tried to dissuade him from his radical ideologies, but he kept talking about the attack plans. The FBI had been in contact with Khan since he was 15 years old. He received 45 days of mental health treatments for an undisclosed condition.
Authorities also said Khan wrote emails to the Pakistan Taliban asking for weapons and instructions to build homemade explosives. Now that he is an adult, the FBI decided it was time to contain his threat.
"He is 18 and capable of simply refusing his parents guidance and assistance in getting away from this way of thinking," Gadow said in court.
Watch KGUN 9 On Your Side at 5 p.m. for more on the Khan family statement.