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Islamic leader slain in Michigan

A man described by the FBI as the head of a radical organization is killed in a raid, federal agents say.

October 29, 2009|Associated Press

DETROIT — Federal authorities Wednesday arrested several members of a radical Sunni Islamic group in the U.S., killing one of its leaders in a shootout at a Dearborn, Mich., warehouse, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Agents were trying to arrest Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, on charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods and illegal possession and sale of firearms. Authorities also conducted raids elsewhere to try to round up 10 followers named in a federal complaint.

No one was charged with terrorism. But Abdullah was "advocating and encouraging his followers to commit violent acts against the United States," FBI agent Gary Leone said in an affidavit filed with the 43-page criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.

FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said Abdullah refused to surrender, fired a weapon and was killed by gunfire from agents.

In the complaint, the FBI said Abdullah, also known as Christopher Thomas, was an imam, or prayer leader, of a radical group named Ummah whose primary mission is to establish an Islamic state within the United States.

He told them it was their "duty to oppose the FBI and the government and it does not matter if they die," Leone said.

Abdullah regularly preached anti-government rhetoric and was trained, along with his followers, in the use of firearms, martial arts and swords, the agent said.

Leone said members of the national group mostly are black and some converted to Islam while in prisons across the United States.

"Abdullah preaches that every Muslim should have a weapon, and should not be scared to use their weapon when needed," Leone wrote.

Seven of the 10 people charged with Abdullah were in custody, including a state prison inmate, the U.S. attorney's office said. Three were still at large. Another man not named in the complaint also was arrested.

The group thinks that a separate Islamic state in the U.S. would be controlled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado for the shooting death of a sheriff's deputy in Georgia in 2000, Leone said. Al-Amin, a veteran of the black power movement, started the group after he converted to Islam while in prison in the 1970s.

"They're not taking their cues from overseas," said Jimmy Jones, a professor of world religions at Manhattanville College in New York and a longtime Muslim prison chaplain. "This group is very much American born and bred."

The movement at one time was believed to include a couple dozen mosques around the country. Ummah is now dwarfed in numbers and influence by other African American Muslim groups, particularly the mainstream Sunnis who were led by W.D. Mohammed, who died last year.

The U.S. attorney's office said an FBI dog was also killed during the shootout.

The complaint shows the FBI built its case with the help of confidential sources close to Abdullah who recorded conversations.

An FBI source said that Abdullah regularly beat children inside the mosque with sticks, including a boy who was "unable to walk for several days," Leone said.

The source, Leone said, regularly listened to a recording of a 2004 sermon in which Abdullah said, "Do not carry a pistol if you're going to give it up to police. You give them a bullet!"

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