Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah

What a Targeted Killing in the US Would Look Like

Warning: Several minutes into this video, graphic images of a corpse appear. Also, the government may start tracking your online viewing if you view this YouTube, as someone started following my mostly defunct YouTube account after I watched it.

On October 28, 2009, the FBI set out to arrest a man they claimed, in the complaint justifying the arrest, was “a highly placed leader of a … radical fundamentalist Sunni group [the primary purpose of which] is to establish a separate, sovereign Islamic state.” The leader of the group “calls his followers to an offensive jihad.” The complaint states the group trained in the use of firearms and martial arts and explains that “Abdullah is advocating and encouraging his followers to commit violent acts against the United States.”

The arrest was staged at a warehouse controlled by the FBI, outfitted with 5 closed circuit video cameras that gave the FBI full visibility into anyone entering and leaving the warehouse, as well as pallets loaded with sandbags to provide cover. Altogether 66 FBI Agents participated in the arrest, with 29 Agents, including a K-9 team and snipers, inside the warehouse itself, along with helicopter cover, another K-9 team, and a control room nearby. Members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue and SWAT teams participated, with Agents flying in from Columbia, South Carolina and DC via a previous operation in Los Angeles. The team had practiced the arrest scenario up to 10 times before the actual arrest.

The arrest started when the FBI detonated 3 pre-positioned diversionary explosives in the room in which the leader, 4 accomplices, two undercover officers and an informant had been moving boxes (the FBI insiders had already left the scene). That allowed the FBI team, wearing bullet proof gear and helmets, to move into place.

On orders, “FBI, show me your hands, on the ground!” the leader’s four accomplices put their hands up and got down on the ground (for a variety of reasons, the FBI doesn’t have recordings of the audio of the event). The leader hesitated, but then got face down on the ground, though the FBI claims his hands were not visible.

At that point, 62 seconds after the diversionary explosions, the K-9 handler, who had been briefed that the leader was the main target of the investigation, released the dog and gave the “bite” command, the first time he had ever done so in the year he had been a K-9 handler; the dog lunged at the leader’s arm or face. The FBI claims the leader raised a gun and shot the dog three times. One accomplice disagrees, describing that the leader had both hands on the dog, trying to keep him away from his face. Two FBI Agents who admitted shooting their rifles also had Glocks, though of a different caliber than the one allegedly used by the leader. There was no gunpowder residue found on the leader and no fingerprints found on the Glock.

In the next 4 seconds, 4 different FBI officers shot the leader with their Colt M4 rifles (3 were from the Hostage Rescue Team that had flown in for this arrest), set on semiautomatic. He was hit a total of 21 times. He died within a minute.

This was the culmination of a 3-year counterterrorism investigation into Imam Luqman Abdullah, a black Muslim who led a mosque in Detroit. The investigation intensified in 2007 as Abdullah and his associates reacted against the transfer of H. Rap Brown (now Jamil Abdullah al-Amin), who had been convicted of killing two police officers in Georgia in 2002, to Florence SuperMax Prison.

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FBI in Detroit Profiles Muslims and Arabs in Spite of 12 Whites Engaged in Terrorism

As part of a new ACLU project to FOIA and map all the racial profiling the FBI has been doing, it liberated a Detroit FBI document describing its efforts to set up a “Domain Management” assessment (which seems to be a nice euphemism for racial profiling). It describes what it claims is the distinct counterterrorism threats in Michigan.

There are more than forty groups designated as terrorist organizations by the US State Department. Many of these groups originate in the Middle-East and Southeast Asia. Many of these groups also use an extreme and violent interpretation of the Muslim faith as justification for their activities. Because Michigan has large Middle-Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalization and recruitment by these terrorist groups. Additionally, Sunni terrorist groups always pose a threat of attack on U.S. soil since it is the stated purpose of many of these groups. The Detroit Division Domain Team seeks to open a Type IV Domain Assessment for the purpose of collecting information and evaluating the threat posed by international terrorist groups conducting recruitment, radicalization, fund-raising, or even violent terrorist acts within the state of Michigan.

Of course, MI is not just home to a lot of Arab-Americans and Muslims. It’s also home to a bunch of right wing militias and all-around nutjobs. So using racial profiling to find terrorists–the FBI admittedly uses State’s list of international terrorists, which of course excludes domestic right wing terrorist groups–would miss the white terrorists we have in MI.

To give you an idea of what that would miss, I checked out all the press releases the Detroit FBI Office and US Attorney’s Office has put out since this document was written on July 6, 2009 to see what kind of crimes related to or possibly related to terrorism we’ve had in the state. Here’s what it showed.

  • October 28, 2009: 11 members of “Ummah” arrested, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah killed. (Ultimately the FBI backed off their claim these folks had any tie to terrorism.)
  • October 29, 2009: Mujahid Carswell (AKA Mujahid Abdullah) taken into custody by Canada’s RCMP for immigration violations.
  • October 31, 2009: Mohammad Alsahli (aka Muhammad Palestine) and Yassir Ali Khan taken into custody by Canada’s RCMP for immigration violations.
  • December 25, 2009: The Undie-Bomber tried to bring down a plane.
  • January 22, 2010: Syrian Mohamad Mustapha Ali Masfaka lied to Customs and Border Patrol agents about his ties to Holy Land Foundation; he was later convicted.
  • March 29, 2010: Nine white members of the Hutaree militia arrested for seditious plot to overthrow the government.
  • June 7, 2010: A 73-year old white man, Russell Hesch, and his son sent a letter to Bart Stupak threatening to paint the Mackinac Bridge with his blood in retaliation for voting for Obama’s health insurance reform.
  • April 21, 2011: A 42-year old white schizophrenic from the Upper Peninsula, Gary John Mikulich, planted a bomb outside the Federal Building.
  • August 3, 2011: Someone left a Molotov cocktail outside an abortion clinic in Detroit.
  • September 12, 2011: A Frontier Airlines flight was diverted because two men of Indian descent and a Saudi-Jewish woman, Shoshana Hebshi, had made a passenger suspicious.
  • September 23, 2011: A white St. Joseph man, Reed Berry, was arrested for ramming an FBI surveillance car; the agents were investigating him for alleged ties to a Foreign Terrorist Organization. (This was no in DOJ press releases, but since he was accused to foreign terrorist ties, this clearly fits.)
  • September 26, 2011: A white 64-year old man, John Lechner, arrested for having as much explosives as took down the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal building and talking about mercenaries. (Note, this was not in any FBI or DOJ press releases I could find.)

So while the FBI has been profiling Muslims (including, arguably, the African-American mosque the FBI labels the “Ummah”; while Shoshana Hebshi and the two Indian men were clearly profiled on 9/11, this was not by the FBI), 13 white people in Michigan have been alleged to engage in some kind of terrorism: The 9 members of the Hutaree, Russell Hesch threatening Stupak’s life, Gary Mikulich making a crazed bomb attack on the Federal building, John Lechner’s stash of 4000 pounds of explosives, plus the ties to a foreign terrorist organization the FBI alleges Reed Berry has (his attorney says they were surveilling Berry for protected speech). And that’s assuming the still unsolved clinic bomber was not white.

Not only will profiling result in the harassment of people like Hebshi and the extreme over-reaction of the FBI with Luqman.

But in MI, it also risks missing what–setting aside Luqman’s mosque–has actually been the majority of terrorists and alleged terrorists in recent years. That’s not just dumb. It’s dangerous.

Update: Added Lechner–h/t Lakeeffectsnow.

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @brettmaxkaufman Actually there is a study showing this now, look at (IIRC) Nazi sports associations. @dandrezner
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bmaz RT @JoshMankiewicz: My father Frank Mankiewicz has passed away after a wonderful life. He was the best dad I could ever have wished for. ht…
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bmaz @BernardKingIII Only thing it ever got me was in contempt. Which was thankfully dropped by judge when guilty verdict returned.
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bmaz @KanysLupin @MonaHol @normative @trevortimm @onekade @FareedZakaria Yeah, starry eyed people like to talk nullification, but doesn't happen
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bmaz @BernardKingIII I mean, seriously, only law professors would come up with that theoretical drivel. And Zakaria still screwed it up.
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bmaz @MonaHol @KanysLupin @normative @trevortimm @onekade @FareedZakaria If so, you should be prosecuted for perjury.
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bmaz @McBlondeLand @nycsouthpaw Was also a real thing in southern Arizona back in late 80's - 90's Biosphere: http://t.co/YrTSfTqpVI
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bmaz @MonaHol @normative @trevortimm @onekade @FareedZakaria Rule 24 leaves discretion on void dire method to court. Some do it some let attys
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bmaz @GrantWoods Seconded. Body broke down before his heart did.
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bmaz @normative @MonaHol @trevortimm @onekade @FareedZakaria But they don't. Juries are told MUST follow the law, and they try very hard to do so
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bmaz @trevortimm @mattapuzzo @FareedZakaria Rules of evidence have evolved quite a bit since then, but not in ways likely to get much motive in.
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