The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls for an immediate and independent investigation into the FBI’s fatal shooting on October 28 of Islamic leader Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah in Dearborn, Michigan. The FBI killed him during a series of raids of the Masjid Al-Haqq Mosque by federal and local law enforcement officials in which 11 others were arrested. While mainstream media outlets are calling the killing and arrests a counter-terrorism operation, the raids arose out of criminal complaints containing no specific allegations of violations of federal law or acts of terrorism.
All reports from local residents and community leaders indicate that Imam Abdullah and Mosque members were dedicated to improving the community, feeding hungry neighborhood residents and helping young people in need, even letting many sleep in the mosque during inclement weather.
By publicizing the killing and arrests as related to terrorism, absent any such allegations in the complaint, the FBI seems to be engaging in the same tactics used in its Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), in which it spied on, infiltrated and disrupted political movements. Imam Abdullah had a close relationship with Imam Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who was a field organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and later served as national chairman of the Black Panther Party (BPP).
The FBI and mainstream media blamed the organizing work of SNCC for the urban rebellions in over 200 cities in the late 1960s. The Black Panther Party was COINTELPRO’s primary target, but it targeted a vast array of others, including Martin Luther King. In light of these events, we cannot trust the claim that COINTELPRO has been abandoned. Many have been imprisoned on spurious charges—Al-Amin, for example, maintains his innocence in the deaths of Atlanta law-enforcement officers and has sought an appeal of his case. Reports indicated that he has been harassed and placed in isolation in the Georgia prison system. Over two dozen BPP members were killed by law enforcement between 1968 and 1971.
The National Lawyers Guild advocated on behalf of, and represented, members of the BPP and other political organizations. The FBI tried to have the Guild labeled as a subversive organization, and for many years spied on and infiltrated the association and its individual members.
Guild president David Gespass said, “It took more than twenty years to prove in court that Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were targeted and murdered by the FBI and Chicago police. We cannot wait that long for the truth of what happened to Imam Abdullah.”
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.