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A Detroit man fatally shot last week by FBI agents was a high-ranking leader of a nationwide separatist group that advocated violence and denigrated Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims, according to an FBI complaint.
Luqman Ameen Abdullah (also known as Christopher Thomas), 53, was killed during a government raid on Oct. 28 when he refused to surrender and fired his weapon, according to an FBI news release. A convicted felon, Abdullah helped lead what the FBI characterized as a “radical fundamentalist Sunni group” called Ummah (“the brotherhood”). The group consists mostly of African Americans, some of whom converted to Islam while in prison. Its main goal is to create a sovereign state within America’s borders that would be governed by Islamic law and ruled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (the former H. Rapp Brown), who’s serving a life sentence for murdering two police officers in Georgia. Abdullah was among 11 men linked to Ummah who were charged with conspiracy to commit an array of federal crimes, including theft from interstate shipments and illegal possession and sale of firearms.
Last week’s raid followed the eviction in January of Ummah members from their former mosque after they failed to pay property taxes. Inside that building, Detroit police found two firearms, roughly 40 knives and martial arts weapons, empty shell casings, and a concrete wall that had served as a shooting range.
Abdullah’s death led to criticism from several Muslim groups who say he was not the violent extremist that the FBI claimed. More than 1,000 people attended Abdullah’s funeral on Saturday at Detroit’s Muslim Center, where some speakers demanded an investigation into the shooting. Abdullah was imam (leader) of the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit, which called the FBI allegations “utterly preposterous,” according to The Associated Press.
Though Abdullah was not charged with terrorism, the 43-page complaint filed in federal court stated that he routinely preached against the federal government and law enforcement. Abdullah’s adherents often carried firearms and received training in their use, even though many were convicted felons. Confidential sources recorded statements by Abdullah indicating that “[he] and his followers view themselves as soldiers at war against the United States government, and against non-Muslims,” the complaint said. Among the alleged statements:
• In February 2008, Abdullah said his followers must oppose the federal government, even if they die. He also praised Muslim suicide bombers.
• During an August 2008 conversation with an FBI source, Abdullah stated the U.S. government controls everything. “We got to take out the U.S. government,” he said. “The U.S. government is nothing but Kuffars” — a derogatory term for non-Muslims. He added: “You cannot have a nonviolent revolution.”
• While praying at the mosque in October 2008, Abdullah said Muslims needed to “cut the ties” with Christians, Jews and Kuffars. “The worst Muslim is better than the best Kafir,” he said (Kafir is the singular form of Kuffar). “We should be trying to figure out how to fight the Kuffar.”
• In November 2008, Abdullah said he believed that the FBI perpetrated the Oklahoma City and the first World Trade Center bombings with the aim of blaming Muslims for the attacks.
• In February 2009, Abdullah asked an FBI source to teach him how to make Trinitrotoluene (an explosive). In March, Abdullah gave the source a CD that the source characterized as “pro-Taliban propaganda.”
• In May 2009, Abdullah preached that the group “hates[s] the Jews and that God hates the Jews,” the complaint said.
Abdullah met with followers in other cities, including Montgomery, Ala., and Gainesville, Ga. His longtime associate, Mohammad Abdul Bassir (also known as Franklin D. Roosevelt Williams), often served as Abdullah’s bodyguard during these trips, carrying a weapon even though he was a convicted felon, according to the complaint. Bassir, 50, blamed the U.S. government, President Bush and Jews for mistreating Muslims and discussed Sept. 11 conspiracy theories. “Bassir said brothers need to stick together and be willing to die for the cause, and blood needs to be shed in order to change things,” the complaint said. He’s currently serving a two-year prison sentence in Michigan.
An FBI source also saw Abdullah’s oldest son, 30-year-old Mujahid Carswell (also known as Mujahid Abdullah), beat young children with a stick while teaching them martial arts, the complaint said. Another source observed Luqman Abdullah “discipline children inside the mosque by beating them with sticks on their hands, knees and legs, until they were covered with bruises, including a boy Abdullah beat so badly with sticks that he was unable to walk for several days.”