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FBI agents gun down Muslim leader

Published Oct 29, 2009 9:31 PM

More than 1,000 people attended funeral services for Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah on Oct. 31 at the Muslim Center on Detroit’s West Side. The African-American Muslim leader had been gunned down by FBI agents three days earlier.

Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah
Photo: Muslim Alliance of North America

Speakers at the services stressed that Imam Abdullah was known throughout the city and country as a peaceful man who worked tirelessly to help the poor people in the community surrounding the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque, where he had presided for decades. Questions were raised about the account of the events given by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the corporate media.

According to information that surfaced just days after his assassination, the imam was shot 18 times by FBI agents at a warehouse in Dearborn, located right outside the city of Detroit. The warehouse had been set up by the FBI in an attempt to frame the mosque members for involvement in “stolen goods.” The purported “stolen goods” were also supplied by the FBI.

Imam Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Michigan, told the “Fighting for Justice” radio program, which aired on the Detroit affiliate of Air America on Nov. 1, that “Imam Luqman was shot 18 times before he was handcuffed and placed on a stretcher. In a meeting between the FBI, representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s office and area leaders of the Muslim community on Friday, they informed us that Imam Abdullah never fired on the federal agents. They said that the imam shot at an FBI dog and then he was shot by the agents. The dog was medevaced to a veterinary hospital while the Imam received no medical attention,” Imam Walid said.

Also speaking on the program was Imam Abdullah Bey El-Amin of the Muslim Center, where the funeral had just been held for the assassinated leader. Imam El-Amin corroborated that “Imam Abdullah had multiple, multiple, multiple gunshot wounds to his body.” El-Amin, a funeral director by profession, prepared the slain leader’s body for burial.

Imams Walid and El-Amin, plus other prominent Islamic leaders in the Detroit area, have called for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Imam Abdullah’s death. Callers to the radio program interpreted the shooting and the arrests of 11 other Masjid Al-Haqq members as a continuation of the federal government’s counterintelligence program (Cointelpro), which was implemented against so-called dissidents between the 1950s and the 1970s.

The African-American community suffered the most damage from the Cointelpro terror operations, which resulted in the deaths of numerous leaders and the framing of others by the federal government and local police agencies across the country.

Groups to demonstrate at Federal Building

In response to the assassination of Imam Abdullah, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) has called for a mass demonstration outside the federal building in downtown Detroit on Nov. 5, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. The demonstration is designed both to condemn the assassination of the Islamic leader as well as demand an independent investigation into his death at the hands of the FBI.

Groups endorsing the demonstration include the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Latinos Unidos of Michigan, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Detroit Green Party and Workers World Party.

A statement issued by MECAWI on Nov. 2 said, “The FBI and the media headlines are trying to cover up this outrageous murder. But their story has changed every day as more and more facts have come to light. Even the government’s own ‘criminal complaint’ makes it clear that there was no reason for this huge assault on the Muslim community.”

Economic crisis in Detroit

Many people who knew Imam Abdullah and the members of Masjid Al-Haqq say that the group worked to rid the severely oppressed community around the mosque of the social ills resulting from years of exploitation and neglect.

Even the mosque itself fell victim to the economic crisis that is worsening in Detroit. On Jan. 20, Masjid Al-Haqq was evicted from the building where it had been housed for years as a result of tax foreclosure. The mosque relocated at a home on Clairmount Street, which was also raided on Oct. 28.

Dawud Walid of CAIR said of Imam Abdullah, “I know him as a respected imam in the Muslim community.” He added, “We have no information about illegal activity going on at that mosque.”

Walid said Imam Abdullah “would give the shirt off his back to people. The congregation he led was poor. He fed very hungry people in the neighborhood who were Christian. He helped and assisted a lot of troubled youth. People would come up to him who were hungry and he would let them sleep in the mosque. He would let them in from the elements.” (Detroit News, Oct. 29)

The CAIR leader said, “They have no linkage to terrorism nationally or internationally. What in the world does Islam have to do with these charges? Why is religion being brought into play?”

Resurrecting Cointelpro

Not only are the FBI and the corporate media utilizing the false construct of “Islamic extremism,” they are also attempting to draw a direct link between the revolutionary movements that emerged during the 1960s and the assault on the Masjid Al-Haqq members.

Because of a close relationship between Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, and Imam Abdullah during previous years, the role of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panther Party (BPP) has been evoked in news coverage of the FBI and police raids. Imam Al-Amin first served as a field organizer for SNCC and later national chair of the civil rights and Black Power group in 1967-68.

Al-Amin, who is currently serving a life sentence in Georgia after being convicted in the death of a deputy sheriff and the wounding of another in Atlanta in 2000, also briefly held the position of minister of justice in the BPP during 1968. He had served as SNCC chair during a period of extreme repression against the organization in 1967-68.

Al-Amin has always maintained his innocence in the deaths of the law-enforcement officers in Atlanta and for many years has sought to win an appeal of his case. Reports from the Georgia prison system where he is being held indicate that he has been harassed and placed in isolation on numerous occasions.

SNCC was partly blamed by the FBI and the corporate media during 1967-68 for the urban rebellions that erupted in more than 200 cities. The BPP was to suffer the brunt of the Cointelpro operations directed against the African-American community.

More than two dozen members of the BPP were killed between 1968 and 1971 after former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover labeled the organization as the most dangerous threat to the national security of the United States. Hundreds of Panthers and other revolutionaries of the time were arrested and railroaded through the courts. Many others were driven into exile abroad or forced underground inside the U.S.

According to the FBI complaint in the current case, which consists of 45 pages of highly spurious allegations, Abdullah “calls his followers to an offensive jihad” and says they should “have a weapon and should not be scared to use their weapon when needed.”

Ron Scott, one of the founding members of the Detroit chapter of the BPP in 1968, spoke to the Pan-African News Wire about the death of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the Masjid Al-Haqq members.

Scott, now spokesperson for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and a media host on the locally broadcast “For My People” television show, as well as the “Fighting for Justice” radio program aired every week, expressed disbelief at the allegations made against Abdullah and those arrested.

“This reflects a standard of repression that we have not seen in a long time,” Scott told the Pan-African News Wire on Oct. 29. “There should be an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Imam Abdullah.”

The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) discussed the killing of Imam Abdullah at its weekly meeting on Oct. 28 in Detroit. The next day, in a telephone call to the offices of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a MECAWI representative expressed the organization’s condolences and solidarity with the Islamic community.

Repression grows against Muslims

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, repression against the Islamic, Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in the U.S. has escalated at an alarming rate. A number of people have been attacked and even killed in racist violence.

Many more people from these communities have been imprisoned unjustly and deported. A number of charitable organizations have been taken into court for allegedly funding “terrorist” groups and some have been forced to shut down by the U.S. government.

Even CAIR has been targeted by these government efforts. In Texas during 2007, members of an Islamic charity were put on trial for supposedly funding Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Conversion to the Islamic faith within the African-American community has been taking place at a phenomenal rate over the last few decades. The federal government has used both the scourge of anti-Islamic hysteria and racism to enhance the repressive apparatus in the U.S. This pattern of surveillance, harassment and entrapment is utilized in a desperate attempt by Homeland Security and the Pentagon to build support for the ongoing wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In addition to these Middle Eastern and Asian nations, the countries of Sudan and Somalia on the African continent, which are predominantly Muslim, have also been focal points for U.S. imperialist intervention over the last several years. Many of the developing nations that have been identified by the U.S. imperialists for destabilization and occupation have majority Muslim populations of people of color.

Consequently, anti-war, civil rights and human rights organizations should view the current wave of repression against the Islamic community as having both a domestic and a foreign policy objective. Demonizing the Islamic community, whether the Muslims are of African, Middle Eastern or Asian descent, provides a mechanism for the repressive apparatus of the state to justify the continuation and escalation of military involvement abroad.

At the same time, the increasing repression against the African-American, Islamic, Latino/a and other working-class communities inside the U.S. is designed to hamper the ability of people to organize against the growing economic crisis that is disproportionately affecting the oppressed peoples inside the domestic confines of the country.

Nonetheless, the fight against this wave of repression can potentially bring together workers and the oppressed from broad sections of the U.S. into an alliance with the developing countries that are increasingly threatened by U.S. imperialism.