By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Oct 29, 2009 9:31 PM
A well-known African-American Islamic leader in Detroit was shot to death by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on Oct. 28 at a warehouse in Dearborn. Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, who headed the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque on the city’s west side, was killed during a series of raids by both federal agents and local police departments that resulted in the arrest of 11 people.
Corporate media reports on the killing of Imam Abdullah and the arrest of the others frame this as a “counter-terrorism’ operation, even though the criminal complaints said to be the basis for the raids made no specific allegations of violations of federal law or acts of terrorism.
A joint statement issued by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office states that “The 11 defendants are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years and known to be armed.”
However, many people who knew Imam Abdullah and the members of Masjid Al-Haqq say that the group worked to rid the severely oppressed community where the mosque existed of the social ills resulting from years of exploitation and neglect.
Even the mosque itself fell victim to the economic crisis that is worsening in Detroit. On Jan. 20, Masjid Al-Haqq was evicted from the building where it had been housed for years as a result of tax foreclosure. The mosque relocated at a home on Clairmount, which was also raided on Oct. 28.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Michigan chapter, said of Imam Abdullah that “I know him as a respected imam in the Muslim community.”
Walid continued, “We have no information about illegal activity going on at that mosque.” Walid said Imam Abdullah “would give the shirt off his back to people. The congregation he led was poor. He fed very hungry people in the neighborhood who were Christian. He helped and assisted a lot of troubled youth. People would come up to him who were hungry and he would let them sleep in the mosque. He would let them in from the elements.” (Detroit News, Oct. 29)
The CAIR leader said, “They have no linkage to terrorism nationally or internationally. What in the world does Islam have to do with these charges? Why is religion being brought into play?”
Not only are the FBI and the corporate media utilizing the false construct of “Islamic extremism,” they are also attempting to draw a direct link between the revolutionary movements that emerged during the 1960s and the arrest of the Masjid Al-Haqq members and the death of Imam Abdullah.
Because of a close relationship between Imam Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, and Imam Abdullah during previous years, the role of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panther Party (BPP) have been evoked in news coverage of the FBI and police raids. Imam Al-Amin first served as a field organizer for SNCC and later national chair of the civil rights and black power group in 1967-68.
Al-Amin, who is currently serving a life sentence in Georgia after being convicted in the death of a deputy sheriff and the wounding of another in Atlanta in 2000, also briefly held the position of Minister of Justice in the Black Panther Party during 1968. Imam Al-Amin served as SNCC chair during a period of extreme repression against the organization in 1967-68.
Al-Amin has always maintained his innocence in the deaths of the law-enforcement officers in Atlanta and for many years has sought to win an appeal of his case. Reports from the Georgia prison system where he is being held indicate that he has been harassed and placed in isolation on numerous occasions.
SNCC was partly blamed by the FBI and the corporate media during 1967-68 for the urban rebellions that erupted in more than 200 cities. The Black Panther Party was to suffer the brunt of the Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) operations that were directed against the African-American community.
More than two dozen members of the BPP were killed between 1968 and 1971 when former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had labeled the organization as the most dangerous threat to the national security of the United States. Hundreds of Panthers and other revolutionaries of the time were arrested and railroaded through the courts. Many others were driven into exile abroad and forced underground inside the United States.
According to the FBI complaint, which consists of 45 pages of highly spurious allegations, Abdullah “calls his followers to an offensive jihad” and says they should “have a weapon and should not be scared to use their weapon when needed.”
Nonetheless, David Nu’man, who lives in Detroit and considered Imam Abdullah a friend, stresses that he is very skeptical about the claims made against the Islamic leader and his followers. “It doesn’t seem to be of his character.” (Detroit News, Oct. 29)
Ron Scott, one of the founding members of the Detroit chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, spoke to the Pan-African News Wire about the death of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the Masjid Al-Haqq members.
Scott, now the spokesperson for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and a media host on the locally broadcast “For My People” television show, as well as the “Fighting for Justice” radio program aired every week, expressed disbelief at the allegations made against Abdullah and those arrested.
“This reflects a standard of repression that we have not seen in a long time,” Scott told the Pan-African News Wire on Oct. 29. “There should be an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Imam Abdullah.”
The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) discussed the killing of Imam Abdullah at their weekly meeting on Oct. 28 in Detroit. The next day, in a telephone call to the offices of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a MECAWI representative expressed the organization’s condolences and solidarity with the Islamic community.
MECAWI offered its support to any protest efforts geared towards seeking justice in the death of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the other Muslim members of Masjid Al-Haqq. Walid, the executive director who took MECAWI’s call, expressed his appreciation for the sympathy and concern conveyed by the anti-war organization.
Backdrop to the death of Imam Abdullah
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, repression against the Islamic, Middle-Eastern and South Asian communities in the U.S. has escalated at an alarming rate. A number of people have been attacked and even killed in racist violence.
Many more people from these communities have been imprisoned unjustly and deported. A number of charitable organizations have been taken into court for allegedly funding “terrorist” groups and some have been forced to shut down by the U.S. government.
Even the CAIR has been targeted by these governmental efforts. In Texas during 2007, members of an Islamic charity were put on trial for supposedly funding Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Conversion to the Islamic faith within the African-American community has been taking place at a phenomenal rate over the last few decades. The federal government has used both the scourge of anti-Islamic hysteria and racism to enhance the repressive apparatus in the United States. This pattern of surveillance, harassment and entrapment is utilized in a desperate attempt by Homeland Security and the Pentagon to build support for the ongoing wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In addition to these Middle-Eastern and Asian nations, the countries of Sudan and Somalia on the African continent, which are predominantly Muslim, have also been focal points for U.S. imperialist intervention over the last several years. Many of the developing nations that have been identified by the U.S. imperialists for destabilization and occupation have majority Muslim populations of people of color.
Consequently, anti-war, civil rights and human rights organizations should view the current wave of repression against the Islamic community as having both a domestic and foreign policy objective. Demonizing the Islamic community, whether the Muslims are of African, Middle-Eastern or Asian descent, provides a mechanism for the repressive apparatus of the state to justify the continuation and escalation of military involvement abroad.
At the same time, the increasing repression against the African-American, Islamic, Latino/a and other working class communities inside the United States is designed to hamper the ability of people to organize against the growing economic crisis that is disproportionately affecting the oppressed peoples inside the domestic confines of the country.
Nonetheless, the fight against this wave of repression can potentially bring together workers and the oppressed from broad sections of the United States into an alliance with the developing countries that are under increasing threat by U.S. imperialism.
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