By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire April 13, 2010
On March 27 a community meeting was held to announce the launching of an independent investigation into the assassination of Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah. The event was held at the Historic New Bethel Baptist Church on the city’s west side, just several blocks east of the location of the Masjid al-Haqq where Imam Abdullah served as leader for over two decades.
Imam Abdullah was shot 20 times by FBI agents on October 28, 2009 during a series of raids carried out by a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement task force that consisted also of police from Dearborn and Detroit. The Masjid al-Haqq had been infiltrated by the FBI for over two years where informants sought unsuccessfully to encourage illegal activities among the members.
Abdullah and several of his members were lured to a warehouse in neighboring Dearborn under the guise of assisting in the unloading of merchandise. When they arrived the FBI sent in a dog that attacked the imam who was later killed in a hail of bullets.
The rally on March 27 was attended by several hundred local activists and religious leaders from both the Muslim and Christian communities. This event was co-sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan (CAIR) and the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality (DCAPB), with endorsements from the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs.
Ron Scott, spokesperson for the DCAPB chaired the meeting and presentations were made by the Nation of Islam, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP, CAIR, Congressman John Conyers and MECAWI. Appeals were made for the defense fund to cover legal costs in the cases of 10 others members of the Masjid al-Haqq who are still facing felony charges stemming from the raids of October 28.
Imam Dawud Walid, the executive director of CAIR in Michigan, spoke on the problems associated with having the evidence gathered by law enforcement released to the Abdullah family and the general public. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s report on Imam Abdullah was not issued until February 1 at the request of Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad.
Imam Walid addressed the efforts to have the 75 autopsy photographs released by the medical examiner which were also held up at the behest of the Dearborn Police. A request for a review of the assassination by the Justice Department has gone unanswered by the United States Attorney General Eric Holder.
A number of local and national organizations have demanded a Justice Department review of the actions by the FBI including the use of informants in religious organizations. Detroit Congressman John Conyers, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter in February to Eric Holder requesting such an investigation.
Corporate Media Slander on Eve of Release of Photographs
The much anticipated release of the autopsy and crime scene photographs took place on April 8. There were five photos made public by CAIR that illustrated the brutal nature of the assassination.
However, just one day prior to the release of the photos, the Detroit News published a front page story that attempted to undermine the growing community support for the Masjid al-Haqq members and the family of Imam Abdullah. The article claimed that in 1980, a 22-year-old Abdullah attempted to grab the revolver of a Livonia police officer during a routine traffic stop. (Detroit News, April 7)
This April 7 article claims that, “Christopher Thomas, who later became Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, struggled with the officer for control of the gun, according to a report prepared soon after the Dec. 5, 1980 arrest by Livonia Police Officer Robert Stevenson, now the city’s police chief. Only after a second officer arrived was Abdullah disarmed, reports show.”
The article continues saying “The Livonia police reports detail the incident that led to Abdullah’s 1981 conviction for felonious assault on a police officer, for which he served 26 days in jail. They provide another view of the man some supporters have described as a peaceful observer of Islam but a criminal complaint describes as a radical separatist intent on killing police officers.”
However, it is unlikely that an African-American youth accused and convicted of felonious assault against a suburban Detroit police officer in 1980 would have only served 26 days in jail. Atty. Nabih Ayad, a Canton Township lawyer who is representing the Abdullah family was quoted in the same article as saying that this incident, which is three decades old, has no real bearing on the death of Imam Abdullah.
Ayad said that the incident was “extremely far-fetched and without any credibility to somehow make a relation between that incident” and what transpired on October 28 when the imam died from multiple gunshot wounds in Dearborn.
One of the photographs released by CAIR shows the imam handcuffed, lying face down and riddled with bullets. This photograph was published by the local newspapers, however, other more graphic pictures were not printed in the corporate press.
At a community meeting held by the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality on April 11 at the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church downtown, Imam Walid of CAIR presented two other photographs that show deep lacerations to the face of Abdullah from the apparent dog bites.
The Detroit Free Press stated in an editorial on April 8 that “Efforts to manage community sentiments by withholding information always fail—and often backfire. With many lingering questions about how Abdullah died, Abdullah has become a national and even international figure—and in some circles, a martyr. Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies have lost credibility with many of the Muslim-American groups they are trying to build relationships with in the post 9/11 era.” (Detroit Free Press, April 8)
CAIR executive director Dawud Walid was quoted in the same Free Press editorial saying “This isn’t going to go away until there are answers.” Numerous organizations have issued letters and passed resolutions decrying the assassination and demanding justice in the case.
These groups include the NAACP, the Democratic Party 14th District Caucus, MECAWI, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, the Congress of Arab-American Organizations, the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, among others.
In an interview with the son of Imam Abdullah, Mujahid Carswell, a well-known hip-hop artist, who is also a defendant in the Detroit 10 case, told this writer that the claims made against his father in regard to the purported incident in Livonia in 1980 were unlikely. Mujahid, who is known in the recording world as “Mu”, said that the authorities are attempting to take attention away from the gross injustice done to his father, his family and his followers.
Both Mujahid and Abdullah’s other son, Omar Regan, who is also a well-known stage and television performer in California, have expressed their appreciation for the work of MECAWI in organizing three demonstrations. The first in response to the assassination, the second during the appearance of Attorney General Holder in Detroit last November and the third after the delayed release of the autopsy report on February 1.