Imam case still needs answers
Nearly a year after a Muslim cleric, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, was killed during an FBI raid in Dearborn, too many questions remain. Law enforcement agencies have repeatedly denied requests for information about the controversial shooting of Abdullah, 53, who was shot 21 times on Oct. 28 after agents say he fired at an FBI dog.
It’s time the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the shooting, including the way government informants were used in the undercover investigation that preceded it. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency has tainted the efforts of local law enforcement. A trusted outside agency is needed to restore credibility to the process. Local agencies have so far stonewalled requests for information.
This month, the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has filed lawsuits against the Michigan State Police, the Dearborn Police Department and Detroit Police Department for failure to comply with state open records laws. CAIR could file more suits, said executive director Dawud Walid. “There almost appears to be a coordinated and systematic suppression of public information,” he said.
Community leaders and activists have expressed outrage and raised questions about whether agents acted improperly, even criminally, in Abdullah’s shooting, after FBI agents sought to arrest him and 10 others on suspicion of buying and selling stolen items provided by an undercover informant.
With many lingering questions about how Abdullah died, he has become, in some circles, a martyr. Early on, Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad stoked suspicions of a government cover-up by persuading Wayne County to delay the release of Abdullah’s autopsy report for nearly two months. The report detailed 21 gunshot wounds, a broken jaw and teeth.
Suspicions were further stoked when Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said she declined to investigate the shooting because the FBI would not give her office certain classified documents. Attorney General Mike Cox then tapped veteran prosecutor Doug Baker to handle the investigation. The AG’s office said the investigation would in no way be compromised.
Unfortunately, whether justified or not, there will be a cloud over whatever the report concludes. A full-scale federal civil rights investigation is needed to clear the air.