Imam shot 21 times as he lay prone; no fingerprints on gun he allegedly fired
By Diane Bukowski
DETROIT – Michigan’s Attorney General Mike Cox declared Sept. 30 that FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) agents violated “no Michigan laws” when they shot Imam Luqman Abdullah, leader of Detroit’s Masjid El-Haqq mosque, to death Oct. 28, 2009.
Agents shot Imam Abdullah 21 times as he lay on his stomach on the floor, according to a report released by Mr. Cox’s office. The report and attached agent statements claim Imam Abdullah refused orders to show his hands, which were under his body, and then opened fire on an FBI dog which was biting him, before the agents killed him.
“My office’s review found undisputed evidence that Mr. Abdullah resisted arrest and fired a gun first in the direction of the agents,” Mr. Cox said. “Under Michigan law, law enforcement agents are justified in using deadly force in these types of situations, and therefore we found no crimes.”
Mr. Cox’s office said they conducted 82 interviews, reviewed 1600 pages of U.S. Justice Department files, and FBI and Dearborn Police Department video recordings.
The report says no fingerprints were found on the gun allegedly used by the Imam.
“The 9 mm firearm recovered from Abdullah was analyzed by the FBI lab,” Mr. Cox’s office said. “There were no usable latent prints found on the firearm—a finding not uncommon with firearms.”
The report does not say an examination of the Imam’s hands or body for gunshot residue took place. During a press conference Feb. 1, Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt said that the Imam’s hands were not bagged to preserve such evidence.
The agents killed Imam Abdullah during a “sting” at a warehouse in suburban Dearborn, planned months beforehand, and repeatedly rehearsed, according to the report. Twenty-nine agents took part in the warehouse. Ten other mosque members were arrested and still face federal theft and weapons charges.
Detroit police raided Masjid El-Haqq the same day. The report says a “Detroit SWAT team” also participated in the Dearborn ambush, along with Dearborn police.
Imam Abdullah’s son Omar Regan said he and his family are not surprised at what they consider a complete whitewash.
“They told on themselves,” Mr. Regan said. “They admitted he complied with their orders and laid on his stomach. They had cameras in the warehouse, but the agents who set the scene up put TV’s on a pallet in front of where my father was lying, so you very conveniently don’t see his killing on video. Why would you have to sic a dog on a man lying on the ground when you have 29 agents to subdue him?”
The 21 gunshots pulverized virtually all the Imam’s organs. His arm was broken, and his mouth severely lacerated by the dog, according to a second autopsy commissioned by the Michigan Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
It concluded, “The victim would have been shot from the rear, or he could have been turning and twisting after being struck by other shots . . . . The multiple lacerations on the victim‘s face and hands, and the fracture of the central anterior maxilla were caused by dog bites.”
Mr. Cox’s office said the FBI carried out the sting, during which the Imam and his followers allegedly received TV’s they “thought” were stolen, because the Imam advocated anti-government violence.
“Abdullah was described in federal court filings as a highly placed leader of a national radical fundamentalist Sunni group with the mission to create an Islamic state governed by Shariah law,” says the report. “According to the documents, Abdullah also preached anti-government violence and called on his followers to conduct an offensive jihad.”
The Imam’s family, Masjid El-Haqq members, and Muslim leaders across the country have denied such allegations, which were based on statements from FBI informants. They have said the Imam peacefully sheltered, fed and clothed members of one of the poorest communities in Detroit.
Amir Khalid Samad, leader of the Cleveland branch of the International Council on Urban Peace, Justice and Empowerment, said the Detroit mosque is part of a national loose-knit, non-violent group.
Imam Abdullah often visited Imam Jamil El-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown, a Black Panther leader) in prison, and was likely set up for his political beliefs, Amir Samad said. Imam El-Amin is currently serving a life sentence for killing a county sheriff outside Atlanta, Georgia. Many believe he was framed.
“How could somebody in Masjid el-Haqq have been a threat to anyone, as economically deprived as they were?” Amir Samad said. “The Imam’s murder was meant as a message to our community—message received.”
Michigan CAIR director Imam Dawud Walid said he and others met with U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez recently. Mr. Perez assured them that the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights division is carrying out a “thorough and robust” investigation requested by CAIR.
Regan said the Imam’s killing has not derailed Masjid El-Haqq’s mission.
“Our members are still together,” Regan declared. “We just finished observing Ramadan and had a feast open to the community to celebrate. We plan to fight this to the end.”
The Michigan Attorney General’s complete report is available on his website at http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,1607,7-164–244373–,00.html.