Groups Pressure Justice Dept. in case of imam slain by FBI
By Ashahed M. Muhammad
(FinalCall.com) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder faced protests Nov. 19 in Detroit as advocacy groups continue to press the U.S. Department of Justice to thoroughly investigate all aspects of the October killing of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah.
Mr. Holder was in town as the guest speaker and an awardee at a Detroit Marriott banquet hosted by the Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (AL PACT).
“In particular, the dialogue between law enforcement and those in the Muslim and Arab-American communities has been tested in recent weeks—by events here in Michigan and far away,” said Mr. Holder.
His visit came just days after a coalition of advocacy groups sent a letter asking the Justice Dept. Civil Rights Division to launch a thorough investigation into circumstances surrounding the mosque leader's Oct. 28 death and make the details public.
“The serious nature of a religious cleric being killed by multiple gunshots—18 gunshots according to family members—in and of itself necessitates a need for further investigation outside the auspices of the FBI,” said Lena Masri, staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Chapter at a Nov. 17 press conference.
A Nov. 16 letter asked for clarification involving issues such as whether an FBI dog was trained and directed to attack Imam Abdullah; whether he surrendered prior to the canine being unleashed to attack; whether the imam shot at any FBI agents, and whether Imam Abdullah was dead at the time he was handcuffed.The groups also want to know how many rounds FBI agents fired at Imam Abdullah.
Signers of the letter included the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the Congress of Arab-American Organizations, the Council of American Islamic Relations of Michigan, the Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice and the National Lawyers Guild of Detroit.
Andrew G. Arena, special agent in charge of Detroit's FBI office, who ironically was listed as one of the co-chairs of the Nov. 19 ALPACT event, has consistently said his agents acted appropriately on Oct. 28. According to the FBI, during a warehouse raid just outside Detroit, Imam Abdullah refused to surrender. An FBI dog was dispatched to go after him and, the FBI said, after Imam Abdullah shot the dog, they fired, killing him. The FBI's narrative has been widely disputed.
Ten of the 11 men named in the FBI's criminal complaint have been indicted and are charged with involvement in an interstate fencing operation involving stolen goods as well as various firearms violations.
In the FBI's 43-page affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, Imam Abdullah is described as “a highly placed leader of a nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African-Americans, some of whom converted to Islam while they were serving sentences in various prisons across the United States. Their primary mission is to establish a separate, sovereign Islamic state ‘The Ummah' within the borders of the United States governed by Shariah law.”
No terrorism charges have been brought against any of the defendants. Community members say the man described by the FBI and the media is nothing like the man they knew.They also believe the FBI used excessive force.
Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, has monitored this case very closely and has been in close contact with Imam Abdullah's family during the ordeal. He said the community has to remain vigilant until justice is served.
“This murder, this shooting, in fact seems strangely reminiscent ironically coming up on Dec. 4—of the murder of Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party,” said Mr. Scott.“Mosques are being raided throughout this country, the First Amendment is being trampled on, and people's lives are being lost,” he said.