Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah’s Shooting to be Investigated by DOJ - updated 4/6/10
Posted Apr 6, 2010

Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah’s Shooting to be Investigated by DOJ

by Sheila Musaji

On October 28th, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was killed in what the FBI termed a shoot-out in Detroit. 

Heather Laird wrote on altMuslim shortly after the shooting:  “We must condemn that which is condemnable. In the Qu’ran, Allah commands Muslims to speak the truth, even if it is against themselves. On October 28, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was fatally shot and killed during an FBI raid in Dearborn, Michigan. Along with 10 other men, he was suspected of charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods, illegal possession and sale of firearms and altering numbers on license plates. They are suspected of these acts and, in both American law and Islamic law, suspicion is not enough to convict a person.”

Imam Zaid Shakir also published an important article immediately after the shooting.  Please read the full article which begins:

“On Wednesday, October 28, 2009, Imam Luqman Abdullah, a humble servant of America’s underclass, was killed by a fusillade of bullets fired by government agents, some of whom had played an integral role in helping to stage the crimes he was accused of committing. His story, like that of all humans is a complicated one. Unfortunately, most people in this country will never learn of Imam Luqman Abdullah, the complicated man. The complexity of his life will be drowned out by the simplistic images of the homegrown Muslim extremist –a caricature.

The nuances of his story, his dedication to family, friends, and community; and his struggle to live a dignified life despite the crushing weight of poverty, will all be lost. With their loss, America loses yet another opportunity to attain a small part of the understanding so vital to move this country towards the sort of policies it needs to pursue, both domestically and internationally, if it is to avoid the consuming trap of imperial hubris and the inevitable ravages her twin sister, who is never too far behind her -Nemesis.

Imam Luqman was no fan of the American government. It is difficult to find many people living and working in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Detroit, one of the poorest cities in this country, who are fans of the government –regardless of their religion. Too much of the country’s sordid underbelly is exposed in such communities to engender much affection for its government. Too many souls are lost to the liquor that flows too freely. Too many lives are fractured by crack and other debilitating drugs. Too many dreams are deferred by the crushing combination of poor schools, dysfunctional families, and inadequate opportunities and services –in housing, employment, and healthcare. And far, far too many people are gunned down by the bullets flying too freely from guns that are too easily available. In most instances the trigger is pulled by the brown or black hand of a lost soul hailing from the same neighborhood as the victim, but in far too many instances it is pulled by an agent of the state.”

The Michigan Citizen reported that “The FBI reportedly airlifted a police dog killed during the melee but accorded no medical attention to the Imam.”

Descriptions of Imam Luqman by law enforcement and by Muslim community members were so different that it was as if they were talking about two different people. 

Death of a Detroit Imam Leaves Many Questions Unanswered, by Hamdan Azhar was written back on November 5th.  In that article he interviews family members including one of the Imam’s sons who said: “The government accuses Mr. Abdullah and his followers of seeking to “establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States.” Mr. Regan offers a different perspective. “My father wanted a decent neighborhood, without liquor stores, drugs, gangs, and violence. He wanted children to grow up in a good environment.” Mr. Carswell takes issue with the government’s portrayal of his father as a danger to the community. “Have you ever been to my community?” he asks angrily. “What have you done for my community?”

Cynthia McKinney called Imam Luqman’s death murder.  In that article McKinney makes an important point: “Now, although examples are rife in the Black and Latino communities of ordinary citizens finding themselves at the wrong end of a police muzzle for minor or no infractions, it should be clear that as long as government officials are out of control, no one is safe. That’s why we all should be outraged and public about excessive force no matter where it happens or who the victim might be.”

For some time the county refused to release the Imam’s autopsy report, and it was finally released on February 2nd.  The autopsy showed Abdullah died of 21 gunshot wounds. He also had abrasions to his hands and face and a fractured jaw.  Time reported that “The autopsy, released by Wayne County medical examiner Carl Schmidt, showed that Abdullah was shot a total of 20 times, incurring 21 wounds. He had died during a raid by federal law-enforcement agents on a warehouse in Dearborn, a 20-minute drive southwest of downtown Detroit. And while federal authorities had claimed after the raid that Abdullah opened fire after refusing to surrender his weapon, Schmidt said Monday that when medical-examiner-office investigators found Abdullah’s body inside a semitrailer, the imam’s hands were cuffed behind his back. “I don’t recall police being involved in a case that’s had as many gunshot wounds,” he said.”  The full autopsy report here.

After the autopsy report was released, Rep. John Conyers called for an independent review of the case by the DOJ.  The DOJ has now said that such a review will be conducted.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) commends the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (DOJ-CRD) on its decision to begin the investigative process into the shooting death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah by FBI agents in Detroit in October of 2009. The Imam was shot 21 times by FBI agents during a raid in Dearborn, Michigan.

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, The Honorable John Conyers, in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, requested a separate independent review by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The full text of the letter from Congressman Conyers can be read here.

ADC Michigan (ADC-MI) Regional Director and Senior National Advisor, Mr. Imad Hamad, said, “ADC-MI is encouraged by the decision of the DOJ CRD to begin the investigative process into this matter. We hope that this investigative process is conducted amicably and all the facts are made public.” Hamad also stressed that, “ADC-MI will coordinate with the local Federal leadership to ensure that dialogue between both the Community and the Federal agencies are not foreclosed despite the seriousness of this incident.”

MPAC also released a statement welcoming an independent investigation.

The lawyer and advocates for the family of Imam Luqman are seeking a second autopsy and any video surveillance the government might have showing the deadly raid.

Somehow this case brings to mind the shooting of Fred Hampton back in 1969, and a number of other cases that turned out to be something other than initial reports had claimed.

Whatever the facts, we need to know exactly what happened in order to condemn what is condemnable.

UPDATE 3/15/2010

Hamdan Azhar just published an article with numerous updates including many more questions

The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality has also questioned the official story

UPDATE 4/6/10

Town hall attendees in Detroit seek answers in shooting death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah

Calls Grow for Expanded Justice Dept. Probe of FBI Killing of Detroit Imam, Amy Goodman interview with Dawud Walid

Islamic groups moving forward on their own probe of FBI incident