By Stephen Lendman – Chicago
On October 28, New York Times writer Nick Bunkley wrote the following:
"Federal agents (today) fatally shot a man they described as the leader of a violent Sunni Muslim separatist group in Detroit." Targeted was Luqman Ameen Abdullah "whom agents were trying to arrest in Dearborn on charges that included illegal possession and sale of firearms and conspiracy to sell stolen goods."
The Times echoed FBI allegations that Abdullah "began firing at them from a warehouse (and) was shot in the return fire…." Ones also that he said:
— "America must fall;"
— if police tried to arrest him he’d "strap a bomb on and blow up everybody;" and
— that he urged his followers to get bulletproof vests by "shoot(ing) a cop in the head and tak(ing) their vest."
In fact, neither happened, and no surprise. No bombs were found or went off, and bulletproof vests are easily bought online from web sites like bulletproofme.com, so why shoot anyone to get them.
Post-9/11, America declared war on Islam with the FBI in the lead at home. It notoriously targets the vulnerable, entraps them with paid informants, inflates bogus charges, spreads them maliciously through the media, then intimidates juries to convict and sentence innocent men and some women to long prison terms. Justice is nearly always denied. At times willful killings are committed. The Detroit Muslims are their latest victims.
The Muslim Community Reacts
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) "is a public service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims, for the integration of Islam into American pluralism, and for a positive, constructive relationship between American Muslims and their representatives." Since its 1988 founding, it’s become known for promoting "Mercy, Justice, Peace, Human Dignity, Freedom, and Equality for all."
On October 29, MPAC’s Executive Director, Salam Al-Marayati said:
"There is a clear and present danger in the escalating mob mentality against vulnerable Muslim Americans."
The organization called for an investigation into the shooting death, saying it is "deeply disturbed" by the incident.
So is the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), a national network of masjids (mosques), Muslim organizations and individuals committed to addressing the needs of the Muslim community. It released a statement saying:
"It is with deep sadness and concern that we announce the shooting death of Imam Luqman A. Abdullah, of Masjid Al-Haqq (Detroit, MI). Imam Luqman was a representative of the Detroit Muslim community to the ‘National Ummah’ and the general assembly (Shura) of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA)…."
Ummah founder Jamil Al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown) wanted it to be an association of mosques in US cities to coordinate religious and social services primarily in the black community. Calling it a "nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African-Americans" is an "offensive mischaracterization."
Those who’ve worked with Imam Abdullah know him for having "advocated for the downtrodden and always sp(eaking) about the importance of connecting to the needs of the poor." Alleging that he and his followers engaged in illegal activity, resisted arrest, and waged an "offensive jihad against the American government" are "shocking and inconsistent."
On October 30, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a coalition of major national Islamic organizations, issued this statement:
"It is imperative that an independent investigation of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah’s death make public the exact circumstances in which he died. And unless the FBI has evidence linking the criminal allegations to the religious affiliation of the suspects, we ask that federal authorities stop injecting religion into this case. The unjustified linkage of this case to the faith Islam will only serve to promote an increase in existing anti-Muslim stereotyping and bias in our society."
AMT also urged the Congressional Tri-Causus (African-American, Latino and Asian) to call for a judicial inquiry.
A statement from The International Council for Urban (Formations) Peace, Justice and Empowerment read:
We members "are appalled by the raids on Masjid Al-Haqq and a halal meat packing plant that left (Abdullah) dead. We are demanding an independent investigation into this action that is clearly the result of a climate of Islamophobia fed by law enforcement and a media bent on sensationalism. (The FBI’s) complaint and the resulting raid are nothing more than government sponsored terrorism against a group that was working to help the community…."
"The inconsistencies in this investigation are glaring. The case is based on sworn statements of informants. These informants were convicted criminals who were paid by the federal government for their ‘work.’ These criminals were used to engage and entrap law abiding citizens…."
We "never heard Imam Abdullah make any statements (or suggest any actions) consistent with the statements in the complaint…."
"The FBI has stated that this was not a terrorism case. However, the investigation was conducted by a counter terrorism unit."
"….Masjid Al-Haqq, under the direction of Imam Abdullah, fed the hungry, housed the homeless, worked with gangs and the formerly incarcerated to turn a crime ridden and drug infested neighborhood around to becoming a productive community….The most disturbing fact is that a religious leader who reached out to his people and his community is dead, the victim of a society that sees anyone who is different as dangerous."
Omar Regan, Abdullah’s son, led the Friday, October 30 prayers at the Al-Haqq mosque, and said the following:
"My father was a sharp-tongued individual. He would talk about his dislike of the government, about how law enforcement wasn’t protecting and serving the people. But speaking his emotions and acting on (them) are two different things."
Other community members echoed that sentiment in accusing the FBI of heavy-handed tactics that killed Abdullah maliciously from multiple gunshot wounds.
Abdullah El-Amin, an imam at Detroit’s Muslim Center (the city’s largest black mosque), said he knew Luqman for years and never heard him talk about wanting a separate Muslim state, just something "like the Pennsylvania Dutch have (with) their own communities and stuff."
He and about 20 other Detroit imams attended an October 29 meeting with US Attorney Terrence Berg and FBI Special Agent Andrew Arena at which they charged the Agency with entrapping Abdullah, then killing him in cold blood. One informant, they said, was a former Abdullah follower with a criminal past, and he and the others "came to a place where people are not getting social security, unemployment. They had nothing," so could easily be manipulated to sell stolen items they provided.
Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:
"The very incendiary rhetoric that the FBI alleges, I never heard that from (Abdullah). There was nothing extraordinary about him….I knew him as a respected imam in the Muslim community….I knew him to be charitable. He would open up the mosque to homeless people. He used to run a soup kitchen and feed indigent people….I knew nothing of him that was related to any nefarious or criminal behavior."
"Is this the kind of excessive force that we black Americans are all too familiar with?" He also questioned using informants he called "agent provocateurs" who entice law-abiding people to self-incriminate.
Other community members believe Abdullah was maliciously targeted, that the FBI likely initiated gunfire, and if he shot back it was in self-defense.
Even the FBI’s complaint admitted that whatever alleged crimes were planned or committed, they were minor and inconsequential. Hardly offenses warranting a high-profile raid, shoot-out, and political assassination.
Department of Justices Allegations
On October 28, a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release headlined: "Eleven Members/Associates of Ummah Charged with Federal Violations – One Subject Fatally Shot During Arrest." The FBI and US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Terrence Berg, charged:
"Luqman Ameen Abdullah, aka Christopher Thomas, and 10 others with conspiracy to commit several federal crimes, including theft from interstate shipments, mail fraud to obtain the proceeds of arson, illegal possession and sale of firearms, and tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers. The eleven defendants are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years, and known to be armed."
Those charged were "believed to be armed and dangerous (so) special safeguards were employed by law enforcement to secure the arrests without confrontation. During the arrests today, the suspects were ordered to surrender. At one location, four (did) and were arrested without incident. Luqman Ameen Abdullah did not surrender and fired his weapon. An exchange of gun fire followed and Abdullah was killed."
"Abdullah was the leader of part of a group which calls themselves Ummah (‘the brotherhood’), a group of mostly African-American converts to Islam, which seeks to establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States. The Ummah is ruled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is serving a (life) sentence (without parole) in USP Florence, CO, ADMAX (supermax), for the murder of two police officers in Georgia."
In the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, a criminal complaint named:
— Luqman Ameen Abdullah (aka Christopher Thomas);
— Mohammad Abdul Bassir (aka Franklin D. Roosevelt Williams);
— Muhammad Abdul Salaam (aka Muhammad Addul Salam; aka Gregory Stone; aka Gun Man; aka Norman Shields);
— Abdul Saboor (aka Swayne Edward Davis);
— Muhahid Carswell (aka Muhahid Abdullah, Luqman’s son);
— Abdullah Beard (aka Detric Lamont Driver);
— Mohammad Philistine (aka Mohammad Palestine; aka Mohammad Al-Sahli);
— Yassir Ali Khan;
— Adam Hussain Ibraheem;
— Garry Laverne Porter (aka Mujahid); and
— Ali Abdul Raqib.
At the time of the raid, three of the men were still at large – Mujahid Carswell (Abdullah’s son), Mohammad Philistine and Yassir Ali Khan. However, Windsor, Ontario police announced the arrest of Carswell the next day, and on October 31, they arrested Philistine and Ali Khan.
The unsealed complaint charged Abdullah with "espous(ing) the use of violence against law enforcement, (and) train(ing) members of his group in the use of firearms and martial arts in anticipation of some type of action against the government." It said "Abdullah and other members of this group were known to carry firearms and other weapons."
According to FBI Counter-Terrorism Squad Special Agent Gary Leone, a "confidential source" (aka paid informant) called S-2 provided "reliable and credible" information, "independently corroborated by other sources, and by consensual recordings he has made with the members of The Ummah at the direction of the FBI."
In a "surreptitiously" recorded December 12, 2007 conversation, "S-2 told Abdullah he had asked to donate $5,000 to pay to have someone ‘do something’ during the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit.
Abdullah said he would not be involved in injuring innocent people for no reason: ‘If there’s something to be done….it (has) to be legitimate.’ "
He then allegedly said…."things are coming….I got some violence (in me) because of what they did to Imam Jamil (H. Rap Brown)….I got some stuff, man, I got some soldiers with me….Brothers that I know would, you know, if I say ‘Let’s go, we going to go and do something,’ they would do it."
Leone said this and other recordings "confirm(ed) by (another paid informant) S-1 (showed) that Abdullah and his followers view themselves as soldiers at war against the United States government, and against non-Muslims," yet nothing in his above statement says that, so charges amount to putting FBI allegations in the mind of a dead man, unable to refute them.
The DOJ presented no evidence of a plot, a crime, or intent to commit one.
The FBI used three paid informants for over two years. On October 10, 2008, the third, S-3, allegedly recorded Abdullah saying:
"We have to cut the ties to (Christians, Jews, and the Kuffar (infidels). You cannot please them until you follow their religion….Obama is a Kafir (infidel, non-Muslim, an insulting term for any African American)….the premise of Allah and Islam (is) ‘the worst Muslim is better than the best Kafir….we should be trying to figure out how to fight the Kuffar….Washington is trying to stop everything we do….they are my enemy, and I should be trying to plot as to how to make moves to get some things accomplished….(we) need to plan to do something."
These and other recordings show anger, not intent to commit crimes. Yet that’s what the DOJ alleges. Saying "We are going to have to fight against the Kafir" suggests resistance against a hostile state. Even stronger statements, allegedly recorded, aren’t hard evidence of planned violence against the FBI, other federal agents, or anyone else.
In its October 28 press release, the DOJ acknowledged that the above criminal complaint "is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A trial cannot be held on felony charges in a complaint. When the investigation is completed a determination will be made whether to seek a felony indictment." Yet the FBI killed Abdullah, allegedly in a shoot-out with only its account for proof, an Agency notorious for political assassinations and twisting facts to make its case.
Imam Umar Responds
In a widely distributed message, an Imam Umar wrote:
"The FBI ups the ante. They set up Imam Luqman of Detroit and murdered him. We know him and the community he comes from. This is no terrorist trap. This was part criminal sting and when the Imam and his brothers peeped the tricks of the FBI, they lured him to a warehouse and killed him. Now they accuse Imam Jamil (H. Rap Brown) who has been in prison for the past ten years as leader of this group. He is an easy target. A lone Imam with the FBI was also an easy target. The FBI is not only tricky and devious….they are extremely dangerous thugs and murderers."
A follow-up message added:
"The FBI is known for their murderous tactics all over the world. When they are given an assignment they use every imaginative strategy to accomplish their goal. When they were under J. Edgar Hoover, he found various ways to discredit Martin Luther King….They turned the Black Stone Rangers against the Black Panthers in Chicago that (caused) the death of the (BPP) leaders. They got the Huey P. Newton and Eldredge Cleaver factions to kill one another. They have gone after the so-called terrorists with one phony case after another. They first went after immigrants, decimating their numbers in America. Now they are after African American Muslims. Next will most likely be the support groups of mostly white people….These FBI devils are very shrewd and their evil spreads….The murder of a good Muslim will only make it more dangerous to live in America. They know that black people sooner or later will fight back."
"The Ummah is not a ‘brotherhood,’ it is the Arabic word for ‘community.’ This group setting up a Muslim state? What a joke. They can hardly set up an annual conference. This information is to cause fear….to cause backlash against Muslims….Let the FBI continue with their tricks, lies and murder. Before long, everyone will see through their veil and they will become the target."
Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Formerly Known as H. Rap Brown Born Hubert Gerold Brown, he became famously known as H. Rap Brown, a 1960s civil rights activist, social commentator, and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (succeeding Stokely Carmichael) where he distinguished himself as a charismatic leader and effective organizer. In 1968, he was named minister of justice for the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense that strove for ethnic justice, racial emancipation, and real economic, social, and political equity across gender and color lines.
As a result, he was targeted by federal and state authorities, charged with inciting a riot in Maryland, violating the National Firearms Act, and illegally crossing state lines to skip bail. During his 1970 firearms trial, he disappeared for 17 months and was placed on the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted" list. In late 1971, he reemerged after being arrested and falsely charged with armed robbery in Manhattan. Convicted, he served five years in Attica State Prison.
While there, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. After release, he started an Atlanta mosque and operated a small grocery store and community center. Then in 2000, he was charged with murdering a black police officer and injuring his partner in a gun battle outside his store.
In 2002, he was tried, and despite strong evidence of his innocence, was convicted on 13 counts, including murder, aggravated assault, obstruction, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.
At trial, his lawyers argued for a case of mistaken identity, claimed prosecutors were out to get him for decades, and presented a strong defense in his behalf, including:
— his fingerprints weren’t on the murder weapon;
— he wasn’t wounded in the incident even though the arresting deputy said he shot the assailant;
— he also identified his eyes as gray; Al-Amin’s are brown;
— his attire didn’t match clothing the shooter wore;
— blood found at the scene was discounted and unchecked;
— potentially exculpatory evidence relating to the sheriff’s vehicle was either lost or destroyed;
— a man named Otis Jackson confessed to the crime; it was ignored, never introduced at trial, days later Jackson recanted, and the defense team never got a chance to interview him; and
— withheld evidence and proceedings were so controversial that observers believed Brown was convicted pre-trial for his civil rights activism and conversion to Islam; he was clearly a targeted man;
It became clearer when the Georgia Supreme Court agreed that the prosecution committed a grave constitutional error when, in closing arguments, the assistant district attorney directed jurors to consider posed questions relating to Al-Amin’s failure to present testimony or evidence. Nonetheless, the Court upheld the verdict. Afterward, his legal team filed a habeas corpus writ citing gross irregularities, including:
— not investigating Otis Jackson’s confession;
— denying a change of venue due to negative publicity;
— prohibiting Al-Amin from testifying in his own defense;
— eliminating Muslims from the jury pool;
— dismissing three of his four trial lawyers;
— prohibiting potentially exculpatory evidence from being introduced;
— denying favorable testimony in his behalf;
— withholding discovery from the defense team;
— denying them a chance to cross-examine an FBI agent relating to his prior misconduct against a Muslim, his misleading and false testimony, and charges that he tampered with evidence; and
— inflammatory media reports during trial, portraying Al-Amin as a radical extremist.
A Final Comment
As a nationally known civil rights champion and Islamic leader, Al-Amin was a prime FBI COINTELPRO target, the agency’s infamous counterintelligence program against political activists, legitimate dissent, independent thought, and non-violent opposition to the Vietnam war, and racial and social injustice.
It continues today against men like Abdullah, his followers, and dozens more like them for their faith, ethnicity, race, activism, prominence, and opposition to government injustice at the wrong time to be Muslim in America.
According to an Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) December 2007 report on Al-Amin titled, "Prisoners of Faith Campaign Pack," many thousands of "Muslim prisoners of faith around the world" are being held in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, including politicians, human rights activists, students, writers, and others with "one thing in common:" their adherence "to the Islamic belief and way of life."
They’re portrayed as "terrorists, inciters of religious hatred or of even trying to change the constitution of the country" where they live. They’re vilified and denied their civil rights. In custody, they’re neglected, brutalized, tortured, and forgotten as non-persons. As one of them, Al-Amin once said:
"For more than thirty years, I have been tormented and persecuted by my enemies for reasons of race and belief….I seek truth over a lie; I seek justice over injustice; I seek righteousness over the rewards of evil doers; and I love ALLAH more than I love the state."
For others like him, their struggle for equity, social justice, and mutual understanding persists against hostile government oppression. In America as much as anywhere. Its tradition continues.
-Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.