Get all the facts out on imam’s death
Graphic autopsy photos of the lacerated and bullet-ridden body of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah were released Wednesday, stoking more suspicions — warranted or not — about how the Detroit Muslim leader died.
At the same time, recent media reports have also detailed a 1980 incident in which Abdullah tried to take a Livonia police officer’s gun, telling him, “It’ll either be you or me.”
To be sure, the two bits of information don’t have equal relevance to the questions that remain about Abdullah’s death. But either piece of information, without the full story about how and why Abdullah was shot to death by FBI agents last fall, contributes to an air of distrust and speculation that won’t serve this community well.
Which puts increased pressure on Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad to wrap up his department’s investigation, and let all the facts speak for themselves.
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.
“This isn’t going to go away until there are answers,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — Michigan, which has also requested that the FBI turn over any video surveillance of the shooting. (An FBI spokesperson would not confirm or deny whether the agency had such evidence.)
Federal authorities have said Abdullah led a radical Sunni Islam group and had encouraged his members to commit violence against government officials. FBI agents said they shot Abdullah during an Oct. 28 raid after he shot an FBI dog.
News stories on Wednesday also reported that Abdullah served 26 days in jail in 1981, after assaulting a Livonia police officer who’d confronted him during a traffic stop.
The NAACP has joined a group called Muslim Advocates in asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to review the shooting and events leading up to it, including the use of informants at Abdullah’s mosque. That remains a good idea.
But transparency is needed, one way or another, to restore public confidence.
Dearborn’s prolonged investigation only fuels skepticism and erodes the credibility of law enforcement. In late December and again in February and March, Haddad, who was away Wednesday and unavailable for comment, stated the investigation should finish in a few weeks.
Earlier, Haddad had persuaded Wayne County to delay the release of Abdullah’s autopsy report, which detailed 21 gunshot wounds, a broken jaw and teeth.
By now, it should be clear to the chief that the best way to dispel excessive suspicion and skepticism is to deliver the results of the investigation he said he would finish months ago.