Abdullah’s killing takes bigger stage


Abdullah’s killing takes bigger stage

U.S. Rep. John Conyers told nearly 1,000 people, gathered Sunday at a banquet marking the 10th anniversary of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan, that he would talk this week to the U.S. Attorney General’s office, possibly with Attorney General Eric Holder himself, about the shooting by federal agents in Detroit of a Muslim cleric. The shooting of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah during an October FBI raid in Dearborn has become, for many, a national civil and human rights issue.

During a keynote speech, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he was not in Detroit to talk about Abdullah. But he alluded to him in describing how FBI agents had infiltrated the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s organization. “We found out, after his assassination, that our comptroller was an FBI agent,’’ he told the crowd. “Every check that came in and went out was under the eye of our government.’’ Jackson also linked Abdullah’s death to another controversial law enforcement shooting: the killing in 1999 of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Guinean immigrant, who was killed by police officers who fired a total of 41 rounds. “Abdullah was shot 21 times; Diallo was shot 41 times,’’ Jackson said.

Dawud Walid, executive director of Michigan CAIR, noting that Abdullah sustained dog bites, a broken jaw, broken teeth and 21 gunshot wounds including one in the back, compared the imam’s death to the 1969 killing of Black Panther Fred Hampton, who was shot by Chicago police and FBI agents as he lay in his bed. The killing of Abdullah, who was African American, has taken on racial as well as religious overtones, especially in a community that has experienced a history of misconduct by local and federal law enforcement. Among those attending the banquet were the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, and Heaster Wheeler, its director, as well as Ron Scott, who runs the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and received an award from CAIR last night.

Any independent review of the Abdullah shooting must include a review of the use of FBI informants. FBI officials have told me they cannot entice people into illegal activity that they are not already involved in. But local Muslim leaders have said the events leading up to the shooting death of Abdullah seemed like entrapment, with agents reportedly enticing Abdullah and his followers into dealing in stolen fur coats and laptops. This won’t be easy to sort out. There can be a fine line — and a lot of gray area — between infiltrating and enticing. Even the FBI acknowledges past abuses. This case could be an opportunity to clarify such practices and do better.

Rev. Jesse Jackson comments on shooting of Imam Luqman Abdullah

Speakers such as Rev. Jackson, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and myself all talked about coalition building and mentioned cases of discrimination against Muslims at CAIR-MI’s banquet yesterday in Dearborn.

One media account quoting Rev. Jackson as saying that he didn’t come to speak about Imam Luqman Abdullah’s killing was taken out of context.  None of the speakers including myself, nor the program was centered around this incident.

Rev. Jackson, however, did comment on the event in an interview with a community member prior to the program starting.  Jackson discussed “trigger happy” law enforcement agents and used the terms “illegal” and “immoral” in the context of Imam Luqman Abdullah’s shooting.

SEE at the 2:57 mark of video below:


Protest planned over imam’s death


Protest planned over imam’s death

Groups take issue with handling of case


A growing number of African-American groups are expressing concern about the case of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the Muslim cleric shot dead on Oct. 28 by FBI agents seeking to arrest him in a sting operation.

Linking his death to other victims of police shootings, several African-American groups plan to rally Saturday at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, the scene of a police shootout in 1969 involving a black nationalist group that sparked criticism.

Abdullah’s death has prompted complaints from advocacy groups about excessive force and profiling of poor minorities. Abdullah was African American, as were most of his followers, and he headed a mosque in a poor area.

The rally to raise awareness about Abdullah’s death is being organized by a host of groups, including the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the Detroit Branch NAACP and the Detroit branch of Delta Sigma Theta, the largest African-American sorority.

On Sunday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson is to be the keynote speaker in Dearborn at the annual banquet for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“African Americans have a long history of being victims of excessive force by law enforcement,” said Dawud Walid, who is African American and director of the Islamic group. “And so that history, coupled with the circumstances behind the imam’s death, has triggered an organic response.”

Last month, the national office of the NAACP, along with the group Muslim Advocates, wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that criticized FBI agents for how they handled the case, including their use of informants. Special Agent Sandra Berchtold said she had no comment Thursday about the case. In the past, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit FBI office Andrew Arena has said that agents acted appropriately in the case.

Caree Eason, with the Wayne and Oakland County branch of the National Action Network, headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, plans to attend Saturday’s rally.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Eason said.