Cover-Up In Handcuffed Imam’s Slaying?
The above autopsy picture is of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah of Detroit who was shot 21 times (20, or even 22 times by some reports) by the FBI on Oct. 28 , 2009, and then was handcuffed from behind his back, or was it that he was shot after being handcuffed?
Why would they handcuff him after being shot 21 times?
Is it possible that they shot him 21 times, and then handcuff him?
Either way, it looks very bad, and many people suspect that there is a cover up is in process.
Investigation still pending: Keep looking out for this one.
Autopsy pictures reveal many lacerations to face and head to places he was not shot, and thus the question is, WHY was he shot 20 plus times, and if he was shot in self defense as the FBI a claim, why so many facial and head cuts and lacerations? A dog was killed in the operation, and what role did the dog play?
What’s the true story? The autopsy tells its gruesome story, yet the FBI story is, well,,,,, read it all yourself.
See pictures here
Read more at links below
Posted April 13, 2010 – 7:14 p.m.
FBI reports raise more cover up fears
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Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has declined to investigate the shooting by federal agents on Oct. 28 of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah. The reason: the FBI reportedly told her it would not give her office certain classified documents. This unusual action raises doubts that Michigan prosecutors can do a fair and thorough investigation of Abdullah’s death — and raises more fears of a government coverup.
Why would the FBI deny potential evidence to another law enforcement agency investigating the case? Classified documents generally involve high levels of national security that don’t apply here, by any stretch. Nor does the Abdullah case involve foreign governments or — at least officially — terrorism. I raised the question with an FBI spokesman in Washington today. To my surprise, he said he didn’t think there were classified documents in the Abdullah case but promised to get back to me. What’s going on?
If there are classified documents that the FBI was unwilling to give to Worthy’s office, will the FBI be willing to give those same documents to Doug Baker, the former Wayne County prosecutor tapped by Attorney General Michael Cox to handle the investigation? A review could lead to criminal charges as serious as manslaughter or second-degree murder, Cox’s office told Free Press reporter Niraj Warikoo.
Abdullah was shot 20 times by federal agents seeking to arrest him and his followers on suspicion of dealing in stolen goods in a sting operation. The FBI’s restricting certain documents is the most recent in a series of efforts by law enforcement to delay or withhold information, including a request by Dearborn police to postpone the release of the autopsy report.
“These actions are what bring about more questions,’’ said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan. Ultimately, only a full-scale investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department will satisfy some of the growing fears of a government cover up — fears law enforcement continue to fuel.
April 7, 2010
After almost 5 months of delay, we received 75 photos of the corpse of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah taken by Wayne County Medical Examiner. One of America’s foremost forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, M.D., J.D. will be reviewing the photos along with an autopsy to give an independent analysis of the initial autopsy report including his expert opinion about the raw wounds on Abdullah’s face.
Imam handcuffed after being shot 20 times by FBI
Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)
- Video of protest outside Federal Building
- Activists, family demand justice in death of imam slain by FBI
- Get all the facts out on imam’s death
- Autopsy of Imam Abdullah raises concerns
Cover-Up In Imam’s Slaying?
Posted by Darrell Dawsey Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 10:45 am
Saying the FBI won’t hand over certain documents related to the shooting death of Detroit imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has declined to investigate the incident, prompting some serious concern from the Detroit Free Press about the feds’ motives…
Why would the FBI deny potential evidence to another law enforcement agency investigating the case? Classified documents generally involve high levels of national security that don’t apply here, by any stretch. Nor does the Abdullah case involve foreign governments or — at least officially — terrorism.
What’s going on?
Damn good question.
I still think it’s only fair to withhold official judgement, but honestly, the feds’ behavior around this incident seems to get weirder by the day.
I mean, first there was the way the FBI announced the fatal October shooting, heavily emphasizing Abdullah’s history of incendiary remarks about government and religion without ever connecting them to why agents were investigating him for fencing stolen goods. Then there was the FBI’s request for delays in the release of the imam’s autopsy report. And now the refusal to give the prosecutor key documents to aid her investigation?
Will Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who’s slated to investigate in lieu of the county prosecutor’s office, run into similar lack of cooperation from the feds? Looks like it…
In their letter, the FBI also said that Cox should not release any information on the case to the outside parties, including those made under state sunshine, or FOIA, laws.
Sellek said that Cox’s office would have to follow state laws pertaining to FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act.
Again, I won’t go in too hard on the Blog–yet–but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of metro Detroiters, of all colors, backgrounds and religious bent, who aren’t already drawing negative conclusions about what happened in that warehouse.
Our government should either confirm those suspicions or do much more to put them to rest. This bizarre uncooperativeness does nothing to help.
We expect law enforcers to operate in sunshine, not shadows, unless they establish a credible need for secrecy at a court hearing or closed judicial conference.
I also want to tiptoe carefully and fairly, but am reminded of a tense, tumultuous time for our country four decades ago when it wasn’t always clear who to trust and believe. In that climate, two members of a radical anti-government group were fatally shot during a predawn raid by 14 police officers at a first-floor flat on Chicago’s west side.
Those killed Dec. 4, 1969 were Illinois Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22. A federal investigation showed that one shot came from the Panthers, while police fired at least 82 times.
Yes, October’s raid here is quite different. And yes, 19 guns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition reportedly were in the Panthers’ apartment.
But each case involves public faith in how laws are upheld on our behalf.
In the Black community in this nation we do not have the expectation of our crimimal justice system like white folks like Alan..
I am not going to tip toe around the obvious clearly if the Iman would have painted his face face he could have passed as a Hunatree and lived another day.
Like the Black Panthers our criminal justice system does not treat all equally..The FBI of course has a long history of contempt for Black folks from MLK to Black Panthers and now Inam that have a hue like you and me..
In the present criminal justice system if you are a Black person viewed as a terrorist your fate will be treated differently just look at this outcome..
Criminals get due process Black terrorists get dead public faith in our criminal laws has nothing to do …
The Detroit News also wants to know what’s going on, as an April 15 editorial says:
“Any pertinent documents should be made available to the attorney general. . . . Continuing unease about the shooting should prompt all of the parties to wrap up their inquiries quickly.”
Goosh I feel so much safer now knowing the Detroit News has offered up a token editorial..
Truth is many news organizations and journalists have conspired with the government in violating the rights of to many activists and others right here in good ole America.
Read more: http://detroit.blogs.time.com/2010/04/14/cover-up-in-imams-slaying/#ixzz0lE7eLK8J
Civil rights group releases photos of slain Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah
April 07, 2010, 11:37AM
Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic RelationsA photo showing the body of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah face-down and handcuffed after his death. Click here to see more photos (note: some are graphic).
A Muslim civil rights group has released photos of the bloodied body of a Detroit mosque leader shot 20 times by FBI agents last year as they were trying to arrest him.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Wednesday released five photos of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah that the group obtained from the medical examiner’s office.
Several photos show wounds on Abdullah’s face that CAIR says may be from a dog. One shows him face-down with his hands cuffed behind his back.
The FBI says the agents shot Abdullah during a raid at a Dearborn warehouse in October after he fired on them. An FBI dog was shot and killed during the raid.
Police are still investigating, and CAIR says it is conducting its own investigation.
Related: Complete coverage of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah
Related story from The Detroit News: Reports show slain imam sparred with police in 1980
21 Shots and the Pursuit of Justice: An Imam (Luqman Ameen Abdullah) Dies in Michigan
By Hamdan Azhar
The article below has been reproduced with the author’s permission, for which we are thankful:
DETROIT — It is a cold Sunday afternoon in February and asr prayer is being held at Masjid Al-Haqq. Children run outside, playing in the snow, rambunctious and full of life while their mothers serve the last of the stragglers who have come for a hot meal at the weekly soup kitchen. The neighborhood is typical Detroit, replete with boarded-up houses, the streets quiet and vacant – save for an unassuming two-story red brick house at the corner of Clairmount and Holmur.
Inside the makeshift mosque, a dozen middle-aged African-American men have gathered. As the prayer concludes, a voice calls out, “Read a hadith, that’s what the Imam used to do.” The prayer leader dutifully opens a book of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and starts reading.” There will come forth a people on the Day of Judgment, their faces shining like the sun.” He pauses for effect. “The poor, the immigrants, the disheveled ones.”
The man’s words resonate with the audience. They begin to look at one another, as if by taking in their appearance they are acknowledging the precarious state of their community. And slowly they begin to nod. “That could be any one of us,” says one man. He thinks for a moment, before adding, “That could be all of us.”
Four months have passed since the death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah. But among his community, his legacy lives on. The soup kitchen he initiated continues to serve the homeless and hungry by the dozens on a weekly basis. Among his followers, there is an odd sense of acceptance.
“Even after this tragedy,” says Abdul-Aleem, 55, “our doors are open to all.” “We know that Allah is in control and justice will prevail.” There is an uncertain gleam in his eye, and he quickly turns away as I meet his gaze – for justice has too often been an elusive concept in this part of the hood.
(a schematic of the 21 gunshot wounds on Luqman Abdullah, from page 11 of the autopsy report)
The passage of time has seen an evolution in the narrative of what happened in that Dearborn warehouse in which Luqman Abdullah met his end. Initially, the US Attorney’s office claimed that there had been an “exchange of gun fire” after Mr. Abdullah fired an initial shot – the term “exchange” presupposing that both sides were engaged in shooting.
Yet the Associated Press quoted an FBI spokesperson as saying that the Imam “fired a weapon and was killed by gunfire from agents” – which indicates that Mr. Abdullah fired only one shot. Seizing on the confusion, the media offered widely divergent portrayals of the incident, the majority describing it as a “gun battle” or a “shootout”, with a minority left wondering if he might have been gunned down in cold blood.
In addition to the shooting angle, there was another twist – the dog. The FBI was quick to announce a memorial service for Freddy, the Belgian Malinois who “lost his life in the line of duty,” the day after the incident. While according to the FBI, Freddy “gave his life for his team,” the US Attorney’s press release is more cautious in noting that “an FBI canine was also killed during the exchange.”
The common perception – although never officially confirmed – was that Mr. Abdullah fired at the dog thereby prompting agents to return fire at him. Sympathetic observers asked if the life of a dog was equal to the life of a human being. Further complicating public perception was the fact that the dog was airlifted to a hospital for emergency medical care while Mr. Abdullah’s handcuffed corpse was transported by ambulance to the coroner’s office.
Today there remain more questions than answers in the death of Luqman Abdullah. The autopsy report, kept under seal for three months at the request of the Dearborn Police Department, was finally released on Feb. 1. The report documents that Mr. Abdullah was shot 21 times, including multiple times in the genitals and at least once in the back. Numerous abrasions and lacerations were also found on his face, hands, and arms; his jaw was found to be fractured.
The discovery of Mr. Abdullah’s additional injuries has sparked a new wave of criticism. In a recent interview, Omar Regan, a son of Mr. Abdullah, became emotional as he decried how his father has been inhumanely “mauled” by the dog. The Michigan Citizen quotes Wayne County Chief Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt as conceding that the injuries could have come from dog bites but he refuses to offer a conclusive determination.
Independent forensic pathologists whom we contacted were unable to comment on the matter without seeing pictures. Incidentally, Mr. Abdullah’s family as well as watchdog organizations have encountered numerous obstacles in obtaining the release of the autopsy photographs – a bureaucratic struggle which is ongoing at the moment.
Prior to the release of the autopsy, it had been assumed that Mr. Abdullah shot the dog as it was on its way to attack him. If, however, one accepts the premise that the dog actually attacked Mr. Abdullah, would that not imply that he had been successfully subdued? Did he then shoot the dog at point-blank range while being attacked? Did the FBI agents shoot him 21 times – not while he was pointing a gun at them – but while he was wrestling with the dog?
Some have even questioned if Mr. Abdullah was the one who shot the dog. Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality told the local NBC affiliate that the FBI’s irresponsible conduct was to blame for the death of the dog. Huel Perkins, news anchor at Fox 2 Detroit, went one step further. “With so many bullets flying,” he wondered, “they could have been ricocheting and FBI bullets might have killed that dog.”
(Masjid Al-Haqq, 4019 Clairmount Street, Detroit, MI)
Immediately after the killing, the FBI dispatched a Shooting Incident Review Team to conduct an internal investigation into the incident (as is standard whenever agents are involved in a shooting.) Meanwhile, the Dearborn Police Department launched a criminal investigation into the homicide. Chief Ronald Haddad recently told the Dearborn Press and Guide that his office would submit a final report to the Michigan Attorney General within weeks.
Demands for an independent investigation had been growing since November, having been echoed by Detroit Mayor David Bing, the Detroit Free Press, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In January, Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, lent his support to the effort calling on the Justice Department to conduct a “rigorous” and “transparent” investigation.
In addition, he asked the Civil Rights Division to review the use of confidential informants in houses of worship – a practice that played a critical role in the FBI’s investigation of Mr. Abdullah. A spokesman for the Judiciary Committee said that, as of two weeks ago, no response had been received to the request. Meanwhile, the Civil Rights division has announced plans to conduct their own investigation into the shooting.
When the story first broke in late October, it was presented in the context of religiously motivated terrorism. As we have previously discussed, the bulk of the 45-page affidavit issued on Oct. 28 consists of a “background” section that implicates Mr. Abdullah and ten other defendants in a sensational plot to violently overthrow the government.
However, the actual crimes alleged are more commonplace: possession of firearms and body armor by a convicted felon, providing firearms to a convicted felon, tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and conspiracy to sell or receive stolen goods. When we met last November, Omar Regan expressed frustration with the media’s coverage. “They just want to say Muslims are terrorists,” he said.
Indeed, many have used the tenuous “Islamic terrorism” connection to attack the character of the late Mr. Abdullah, with some going so far as to implicate aspects of the Islamic faith by extension. The FBI affidavit set the stage for such behavior by referring to a “nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group” and by going to great lengths to emphasize Mr. Abdullah’s religious beliefs. On Nov. 18, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies -a controversial neoconservative think-tank – published an article comparing Mr. Abdullah’s followers to global “jihadi movements.” Other right-wing ideologues with dubious credentials have also used the case as evidence of the threat of “homegrown terrorism.”
The grand jury indictment (included below) issued on Nov. 10 presents a striking contrast with the earlier criminal complaint. The complaint is what the FBI presented to a federal magistrate judge; after a finding of probable cause, arrest warrants were then issued. The indictment is what the grand jury, upon weighing the evidence, actually accuses the defendants of, and what they will be tried for in court. The 11-page document makes no mention of Islam, or religion in general, nor does it discuss terrorism or hint at anything remotely violent, save for possession of firearms. Needless to say, Luqman Abdullah has been dropped from the list of defendants.
The indictment provides further evidence of the banal and artificial nature of the investigation. The “stolen goods” the defendants are alleged to have conspired to sell or receive consist of fur coats, laptops, iPhones, Burberry purses, and 40″ LCD televisions. The payments involved range in value from $300 to $1000. A plain reading of the document suggests that an FBI operative (an agent or a confidential informant) gave the defendants money that they then used to purchase goods (that they believed to be stolen) from another FBI operative which they then stored in an FBI-operated warehouse. On Oct. 28, as per the indictment, the defendants arrived at the FBI warehouse to take possession of FBI owned goods that the FBI had paid them to purchase, at which point the warehouse was raided by the FBI and they were arrested. One of them, Imam Luqman Abdullah, was killed.
Two days after the killing, Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit division of the FBI, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the agents “did what they had to do to protect themselves.” In those early days, the headlines in the news were “Radical Islam leader killed” and “Feds stand behind deadly Michigan raid.”
By February of this year, however, the headlines had changed to “Autopsy Shows Michigan Imam Shot 21 Times” and “Conyers Demands Rigorous Investigation of Imam Shooting.” The favorable turn in media coverage provides little consolation for Mr. Abdullah’s family, however. “The media is interested in hype,” complains Mr. Regan. “They’re using this to sell papers and for TV ratings.”
The growing mainstream consensus demanding an independent investigation has clearly been an unexpected and significant development in the case. Whereas once there were only a handful of voices willing to question the FBI’s account, a veritable group has assembled to demand transparency and accountability – including the House Judiciary Committee, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, the Detroit Free Press, the Mayor of Detroit, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
When we met in November, Mr. Regan exclaimed at one point during our interview, “A man’s been killed, and he hasn’t been charged with a crime.” That statement stuck with me for many months. It conveys a certain raw emotion, eliciting an impassioned but entirely rational response of outrage at a fundamental injustice that seems to have been done. Luqman Abdullah is no longer here to defend himself against the charges that have been thrown at him by the government and the media – he never got his day in court. Is that not a miscarriage of justice?
Having some doubts about the legal and factual accuracy of the latter part of Mr. Regan’s statement, I contacted experts for clarification. Many were doubtful of the extent to which the question even mattered – whether or not Mr. Abdullah had in fact been charged with a crime when he was killed.
Constitutional scholar and UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh argued that the relevant question instead was whether the killing was justified given the exigencies of that situation. The killing of an innocent man by the police might be justified in self-defense. On the other hand, even if someone had been indicted, the use of deadly force absent proper justification would be inappropriate.
The question thus returns to the actual homicide (the term the medical examiner has used to describe the manner of death in the autopsy.) Were the FBI agents acting in fear for their lives? Or was the use of deadly force excessive given the threat they faced? A conclusive determination is impossible without all of the facts – facts that one hopes the investigation will uncover. Given the information that has been released thus far and the manner in which it has been received however, it would seem that the weight of public perception is against the FBI’s account.
In all likelihood, the warehouse in which the shooting occurred was controlled by the FBI, as the text of the indictment strongly implies (paragraph 22, “Overt Acts”). If Mr. Abdullah was in fact attacked by the dog, as the abnormal injuries to his body seem to indicate, how could he have posed an imminent threat to the FBI agents – sufficient to justify 21 gunshots? Why were more than half of the shots below the waist–including two in the groin and one in the back? Why was no effort made to provide emergency medical attention to Mr. Abdullah?
The attempts to convict Mr. Abdullah in the court of public opinion have largely been based – not on his conduct in his final moments – but on the government’s allegations of prior criminal behavior. The unspoken justification is not that he presented an imminent threat to the agents but that he was a dangerous person who needed to be “brought to justice.”
FBI Agent Andrew Arena, speaking with NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, concedes that “what transpired that day…was a tragic event.” He proceeds to affirm that they “wanted to make sure that no innocent people were harmed, that no agents were harmed, and no subjects were harmed.” His choice of words, however, unwittingly speaks to his presuppositions. Rather than use the term “bystanders”, he instead declares that Mr. Abdullah was not an innocent person whose harm should be avoided, but rather a threat to be neutralized.
“A man is dead and he hasn’t been charged with a crime,” said Mr. Regan. A subtle but profound distinction must be made between “charged” and “convicted.” Even if Mr. Abdullah had been convicted of – intent to receive stolen goods among other crimes – a justification for his killing can only be derived from exigencies of that situation in the warehouse. After all, a class C felony carries a maximum sentence of twenty-five years in prison – not death.
But the fact remains that he wasn’t convicted – of that crime or any other crimes. Save for a felony assault conviction in 1981 – when he would have been 24 years old – by all available accounts, Luqman Abdullah had lived as a “good neighbor“, in the words of the lieutenant at the local police precinct. He was known for his devotion to social justice and serving the needs of the poor and needy community in which he lived. He earned his living as a cabdriver and led prayers at his local religious center. Far from the FBI’s portrayal of a violent thug, those who knew him point to his positive influence at eliminating crime and combating poverty in a neighborhood that government had all but forgotten.
The greatest injustice of Luqman Abdullah’s killing stems from the perception that in those final moments, it was a handful of FBI agents who acted as judge, jury, and executioner. Their actions determined that Mr. Abdullah would die as guilty, if for no other reason than his inability to furthermore proclaim his innocence. The vital public debate about government-sponsored espionage in religious institutions and the prevalence of entrapment as a law enforcement tool in poor and underprivileged communities will continue. But we have lost an invaluable informant whose perspective can only be guessed at and never apprehended in full.
The FBI complaint is the only documentation in the public record of the criminal activities that allegedly occurred at the direction of Luqman Abdullah over the past two years. It presents only one side of the story – a side that can no longer be challenged. Some media organizations have disturbingly accepted that one side as the definitive account, thereby corrupting the notion of “innocent until proven guilty.” If the presumption of innocence applies up until the point of conviction, how much more applicable should it be if the accused had yet to be charged with a crime?
Among the legal scholars we contacted, a few were of the opinion that the criminal complaint presented to the magistrate judge was the functional equivalent of a charging document. They asserted that the question was really more of semantics than of law – what do we really mean when we say “charged with a crime”?
Others offered a more definite assessment. “He was not charged with a crime,” said Yale Professor and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Stith. “So as not to mislead,” she continued, “I would say ‘He had not been formally charged with a crime, though a warrant had been issued for his arrest.’”
Professor Eve Brensike Primus of the University of Michigan offered a constitutional rationale for a strict interpretation of “formal charges.” “The Fifth Amendment,” she argued, “ensures that a federal charge for a felony offense will not be brought without granting the accused the protection of the review and acceptance of the charge by the grand jury.”
Harvard Professor Carol Steiker agreed. “An indictment is the required formal charging document in federal court for all non-petty crimes (felonies),” she said. “In such cases, it would be most accurate to say that an individual killed prior to indictment was killed before he was formally charged with a crime.”
(Fatima, 3, Sumayya, 10, and Juma, 8 on a Sunday afternoon in February at the weekly Masjid Al-Haqq soup kitchen)
Twenty-one shots. Left to die while an FBI dog was transported by helicopter for medical treatment. Portrayed as a radical Muslim, a violent black man, a threat to the community. Killed before he could be charged with a crime.
Is this the face of justice in America, I ask myself. Not my America, I retort, not the America of Ann Arbor, Michigan with its ivory towers, nor the America of Brooklyn, New York where I grew up, the child of Pakistani immigrants, benefiting from the best public schools, taught to keep an open mind, to ask questions, to always think critically.
I look around at the deserted streets and the abandoned houses, my senses overwhelmed by the crushing poverty of inner-city Detroit – and I realize that I am no longer in my America. I keep walking, comfortable by now in this neighborhood, no longer anxious about my car being broken into. The death of Luqman Abdullah has given me a reason to leave my comforts and visit another world, to talk to its residents and to listen to their stories.
I see a young man, slightly younger than me, waiting for the bus on Dexter Ave. I ask him what has by now become my routine query. Yes, he answers, he knew Imam Luqman. “He used to give out food if someone was hungry,” he tells me. But Khari, 20, shocks me when he says, “I hope they lock them up in jail.” “They shot him 21 times.” I walk away in awe wondering if this, perhaps, is what they call the optimism of youth.
I walk back to Masjid Al-Haqq, enter from the backdoor, and climb the narrow, aging stairway that leads to the men’s prayer room. The sweet smell of incense reaches me as I behold the sight of half a dozen children running around, their fathers relaxing and catching up on gossip. I spot Omar Regan and his brother Mujahid Carswell in the corner and I head in their direction. I am intercepted by a bold and charming 8-year old, Khalid, who wants a rematch in rock-paper- scissors (in which I had soundly defeated him earlier that afternoon). I pause for a quick game, letting him win, and walk away leaving him content with his victory.
I have not seen the brothers since November, and they are as impassioned as ever regarding their father’s death. “It was worse than we thought,” says Mr. Regan, referring to the autopsy. “Nobody deserves this.” They are frustrated by the government’s secrecy and failure to release relevant documentation. Where is the ballistics report, he asks. “Where is the proof that my father even fired a gun?” He wants to see the autopsy report of the dog and wonders why EMTs were not on scene during the take-down. “What if an officer had gotten hurt? Isn’t that standard procedure?” Many of these same questions are increasingly being asked by other parties as well, most notably by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.
“People are rightly concerned when a religious leader becomes involved with an FBI informant and ends up dead in the street,” said Rep. Conyers in a press release. He went on to note that if the Department of Justice failed to investigate the incident in a “credible and transparent” manner, “it will be left to Congress to ensure that justice is done.” Such high-level involvement in a routine law enforcement operation indicates the killing of Imam Luqman Abdullah is anything but routine – it might even be exceptional.
Mr. Carswell is satisfied with the amount of national attention the case has received, but he is not surprised. “They thought no one would care. But they underestimated how much people loved this black man. He was a servant of the people.” ‘They’ for Mr. Carswell is the FBI, and he is unrelenting in his criticism. “Nobody’s policing the FBI,” he complains. “Why did they call him armed and dangerous? Why did they call him a radical Sunni Muslim? If the charge is intent to receive stolen goods, why are you saying this?”
“It’s a control thing,” he asserts. “They’re bullies, they rule by fear.” He cites the FBI’s attempts to influence media coverage of the case. Indeed, the Feb. 9 article “Metro security breach leaves many on edge” bizarrely notes that “The FBI’s Detroit office refused to discuss the case with the Free Press on Monday, citing its unhappiness over a recent newspaper editorial.” (Numerous attempts to contact the FBI for comment were unsuccessful.) “People are afraid to ask questions, even the media is intimidated,” he says.
Despite the obstacles, Mr. Carswell depicts a reality in which even the FBI has been left isolated. “They’re the only ones telling that story,” he says. “His family, people in the streets, strangers, even the police – they have nothing but good to say of him. The only ones with a different story are the FBI. It don’t take no genius to figure out that somebody’s lying.” Mr. Carswell looks me in the eye – “How is everybody telling the same lie?”
For the family, much of the government’s case turns on the credibility of one informant, a topic on which the Detroit Free Press has reported extensively. Mr. Regan is skeptical. “Why is it his word against everyone else? Who is he? What are his credentials? What makes him reliable?” Mr. Regan even suggests that the informant might have “played” the FBI, selling them an exaggerated narrative of a dangerous conspiracy for his own personal gain. Such stories have become common in recent years; informants in similar cases have often been career criminals, at times drug addicts, seeking reduced prison sentences or financial compensation.
“It’s inhumane,” says Mr. Regan, returning to the manner of the killing. “You don’t have a reason to shoot someone 21 times. These are trained marksmen. Shooting below the waist. Twice in the private parts. By federal agents. Do they have families, children, and wives?”
I ask the brothers why they think the FBI agents shot and killed their father. Could it have been fear? Mr. Regan briefly entertains the notion. “Perhaps,” he says, “the informant hyped up the FBI. All lies. They went in thinking they were fighting for their country. And then they found out he wasn’t it.” His eyes flare up. “Oops. 13 children. A wife. An entire community in mourning. Why can’t they just say they were wrong?”
Mr. Carswell is less receptive to the suggestion that the agents were afraid for their lives and that’s why they shot him 21 times. “This is what they do for a living. How are they so afraid? Are you new? Are you a rookie? Just wait in the car.” More than “afraid federal agents,” he responds, “what we hear about most often are rogue cops abusing their power.”
At the end of the day, Mr. Abdullah’s family is anxious for answers. “They say: your father was a bad guy, that’s why we killed him, that’s why we shot him 21 times.” Mr. Regan’s eyes glisten and his voice falters. “It’s not fair; it feels like they targeted him because he’s Muslim. Because he was Muslim, they can say he was a terrorist…But the most they could charge him with was receiving stolen goods.” “Tell the truth,” he says. “You’re acting like cold-blooded killers. How can I believe that you’re here to serve the community?”
While the family waits for the investigation to conclude, they pray for justice. As I leave, Mr. Regan’s voice assumes a tone of certainty. “Eventually,” he tells me, “the truth will come out.” On my drive back to my America, I think of the man killed without having ever been charged with a crime and left for dead in a warehouse; of the house of worship infiltrated by federal agents funded by our tax dollars; of how little our government seems to be doing for the people of inner-city Detroit. I wonder what has become of my America – and I can only hope that Mr. Regan’s confidence will not prove to have been in vain.
Why Was a Controversial Imam Shot 20 Times?
By Steven Gray / Detroit Monday, Feb. 01, 2010
Jamil Carswell, son of imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, talks to the media outside the Dearborn, Mich., police station on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010
Carlos Osorio / AP
Correction Appended: Feb. 2, 2010
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a young, educated Nigerian who allegedly tried to blow up Delta Flight 253 bound for Detroit on Christmas Day. Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, shot to death in nearby Dearborn, Mich., by FBI agents last Oct. 28, was an African-American felon with an apparent penchant for stolen goods and a far-fetched wish to establish a Shari’a state on American soil. The two had nothing in common other than being Muslims. And yet with the release Monday, Feb. 1, of Abdullah’s autopsy, their cases continue to haunt one of metropolitan Detroit’s few successful communities. The immigrants who have made this America’s largest Muslim community now fear they may face the scrutiny they endured for years post-9/11. (See pictures of Detroit’s beautiful, horrible decline.)
The autopsy, released by Wayne County medical examiner Carl Schmidt, showed that Abdullah was shot a total of 20 times, incurring 21 wounds. He had died during a raid by federal law-enforcement agents on a warehouse in Dearborn, a 20-minute drive southwest of downtown Detroit. And while federal authorities had claimed after the raid that Abdullah opened fire after refusing to surrender his weapon, Schmidt said Monday that when medical-examiner-office investigators found Abdullah’s body inside a semitrailer, the imam’s hands were cuffed behind his back. “I don’t recall police being involved in a case that’s had as many gunshot wounds,” he said.
Ronald Haddad, the police chief of Dearborn, is leading an investigation that could result in charges of excessive force or even murder against FBI agents. Either Kym Worthy, Wayne County’s top prosecutor, or Michigan attorney general Mike Cox will ultimately determine whether to file charges. Department of Justice officials are also reviewing the case. “This is a very unique case,” says Haddad. “Our mission right now is to ensure a fair, objective, honest evaluation of what took place.”
That will be tough. Abdullah’s entire history is mysterious. Also known as Christopher Thomas, Abdullah established a criminal record in the late 1970s, when he was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a Mobile, Ala., police officer. In 1981 he was convicted in Wayne County of felony assault and carrying a concealed weapon.
At some point he embraced Islam and became the local leader of a Muslim sect known as the Ummah. In court documents, federal authorities describe the Ummah as a “nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting mainly of African Americans” who converted from Christianity while serving prison sentences. The Ummah’s national leader is Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, a militant civil rights–era figure once known as H. Rap Brown. In 2001, al-Amin was convicted of fatally shooting two Georgia police officers; he remains in a federal prison.
Federal authorities began monitoring Detroit’s Ummah in 2007, using informants inside the group’s main mosque. In court documents, authorities portray Abdullah, 53, as a mesmerizing figure whose sermons frequently included anti-U.S.-government rhetoric. He allegedly called his flock to wage a violent “offensive jihad” rather than a “defensive jihad” and taught that “every Muslim should have a weapon and not be afraid to use their weapon when needed.” In January 2009, when Detroit officials evicted the Ummah from its mosque for failure to pay property taxes, police found firearms, knives and martial-arts weapons inside Abdullah’s apartment, which was apparently inside the mosque. Authorities say the group participated in an extensive theft ring: in February 2009, for instance, Abdullah allegedly went to Chicago to obtain fur coats he believed were stolen, then brought them to Michigan. Abdullah’s son Mujahid Carswell later tried to sell fur coats and laptops he believed were stolen, according to court documents. (He has been charged with committing, aiding or abetting others in the sale or receipt of stolen goods transported between states.) Eleven of Abdullah’s followers have been arrested on an assortment of charges, including possession of firearms by a convicted felon, mail fraud and conspiring to receive and sell stolen goods. And their leader, of course, has been killed.
Since the Abdullah case, there has been a quiet debate in the broader Islamic community about whether the Ummah can be considered authentically Muslim. Says Ibrahim Aljahim, a Yemeni-American leader: “Islam is a peaceful religion, while these terrorists are nonbelievers and hypocrites.” Nevertheless, the cases of Adbullah and Abdulmutallab have prompted protests from a community fearful of undeserved scrutiny. Abdullah’s funeral, at a black mosque in a hardscrabble Detroit neighborhood, drew Muslims of Yemeni and Somali origin. Abdullah is believed to be the first imam to be killed by American law-enforcement authorities — spurring growing concern about law enforcement’s use of informants to target mosques with poorly educated people, many of whom are felons with bleak job prospects. “Although Luqman was a black man, he was an imam. If one imam can be killed by law enforcement, any imam can be killed by law enforcement,” says Dawud Walid, a local Muslim leader.
Correction: The original version of the story had Wayne County medical examiner Carl Schmidt saying the imam’s hands were cuffed behind his back at the time of the shooting. The story clarifies that what Schmidt said was that at the time the imam’s body was found, his hands were cuffed.
FBI is cleared in imam’s death; Feds: Agents had legitimate fears
POSTED: OCT. 14, 2010
It’s not first to back FBI
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO = FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Almost a year after a Detroit Muslim leader was shot dead by FBI agents, the Department of Justice has cleared all federal agents in the Oct. 28 killing, saying they acted appropriately in firing 20 bullets at Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, according to a report released Wednesday.
Underscoring the importance of the shooting death, Justice Department attorneys traveled from Washington, D.C., to Detroit on Wednesday to discuss the report with Abdullah’s family and Muslim and African-American leaders. The meetings were tense at times, with the leaders calling the report one-sided.
But the 17-page report — written in part by the same federal attorney who prosecuted the officers involved in the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles — says the four FBI agents had legitimate fears that Abdullah was going to harm them. The report echoes the findings released earlier this month from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and Dearborn police. The Justice report said Abdullah ignored orders to surrender and brandished what it says was a stolen gun.
Imam’s supporters blast report
The FBI dog went straight for the Muslim leader, grabbing his left arm and a part of his upper body.
In the blink of an eye, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah — a Muslim leader who led a Detroit mosque — aimed his handgun at the dog and in the direction of several FBI agents seeking to arrest him, according to a Justice Department report released Wednesday.
“Gun!” yelled one agent.
Abdullah shot the dog three times, and the agents then fired back at him 20 times.
“I shot to protect myself,” said one agent, according to the report by the department’s Civil Rights Division. It was the third report released this month — the others by Dearborn police and the office of Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox — that said FBI agents acted appropriately in the Oct. 28, 2009, shooting death of Abdullah in a Dearborn warehouse.
Supporters of the slain imam said they were disappointed in the report, calling it one-sided, and plan to gather today at a Detroit mosque to express their concerns. They say the investigation and shooting death was a case of overkill in the U.S. government’s war on terrorism.
The FBI says that Abdullah was a black nationalist Muslim seeking to establish Islamic rule in the U.S. through violence, but supporters say he was merely trying to use Islam as a way to restore morality in impoverished Detroit neighborhoods riddled with crime.
They note that neither Abdullah nor his followers were ever charged with terrorism crimes.
Federal agents were seeking to arrest Abdullah and his followers on Oct. 28 in an undercover sting operation involving fake stolen goods provided by the government. The two-year investigation into Abdullah sought to determine whether he was dealing in stolen goods.
Also under scrutiny was Abdullah’s rhetoric: He often railed against law enforcement officials and the U.S. government, according to undercover informants who recorded his conversations. Abdullah often said he would go down fighting if authorities sought to apprehend him.
The case drew international attention as some questioned whether the U.S. government unfairly targeted him because of his religion and beliefs.
But the FBI says Abdullah was with a Muslim group headed by the former H. Rap Brown, known as a black nationalist who preached violent revolution and later converted to Islam. Now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, he is serving a prison sentence for fatally shooting an Atlanta police officer.
The attempted arrest of Abdullah involved at least 66 agents — including 14 elite agents from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. Three of the four agents who shot at Abdullah were with that team.
The Justice Department report was overseen by Barry Kowalski, a veteran Justice attorney who previously prosecuted the Los Angeles police officers charged with beating Rodney King in a 1991 case that attracted national attention, said local leaders.
The Justice report cites forensic evidence and witness testimony to reach its conclusion.
“The evidence indicates that neither the FBI agent shooters, nor any other agents, willfully intended to use more force than necessary to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose,” the 17-page report concluded. The agents who shot at Abdullah “fired only after Imam Abdullah brandished a concealed handgun and shot toward them. … They legitimately feared that Imam Abdullah was in a position to cause death or significant injury to another.”
The report noted that the agents involved in the shooting have never “been the subject of a civil rights complaint” and have never “previously fired his weapon at another person.”
‘It is disheartening’
A friend and follower of Abdullah said Wednesday that he was disappointed in the conclusion of the report.
“It is disheartening. … We don’t think this is just,” said Akil Fahd, 40, of Detroit. But “everything is in the hands of Allah.”
Fahd said that supporters of Abdullah hope to pursue justice in this case through other legal and judicial means.
Detroit FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold said Wednesday that the “report accurately reflects what happened that day at the warehouse.”
The incident upset some in metro Detroit’s sizable Muslim and African-American communities who saw his death as an example of excessive force.
They also have raised questions as to why the FBI and counterterrorism officials spent so much time and resources investigating a case that never resulted in terrorism charges and focused on a man who lived on a poor block in a poor city.
Kowalski and two other attorneys — one of them Muslim — with the Department of Justice met at the federal McNamara building on Wednesday as the report was released.
They had a meeting with the family of Abdullah, and they met for almost two hours with community leaders, said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Others at the meeting included Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; attorney Michael Steinberg with the American Civil Liberties Union; Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, and Dawud Walid of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Hamad said he appreciates the fact that the Justice Department attorneys flew to Detroit to meet with them. But he said some in the community had concerns.
“The report was seen as one-sided, incomplete, not satisfactory,” Hamad said. “The report did not include the testimonies of the other people who were with the imam at the time.”
The report notes that followers of Abdullah were asked by their attorney not to testify because of pending criminal charges in the case.
The Justice report said the case will now “be returned to the FBI to complete its administrative review.”
The head of the Detroit FBI, Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena, has said his agents acted appropriately in the shooting.
Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO: 313-223-4792 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was fatally shot Oct. 28, 2009. The FBI says he was a black nationalist Muslim seeking to establish an Islamic nation in the U.S. through violence, but supporters say he was merely trying to use Islam as a way to restore morality in Detroit neighborhoods. (MUSLIM ALLIANCE OF NORTH AMERICA VIA ASSOCIATED PR)
A version of this story appears on page 3A of the Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010, print edition of the Detroit Free Press.
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