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'FBI not Cleared, Justice Report Premature'

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Family and community leaders respond to DOJ Report on death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah

By Zenobia Jeffries, Special to the NNPA from the Michigan Citizen –

“They’re not clear[ed]. They’re very muddy,” said Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality of the FBI agents who fatally shot Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abudullah almost a year ago.

Scott joined other community leaders and family members of Abdullah Oct. 14 for a press conference at the Muslim Center on the west side of Detroit, to respond to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Report on Abdullah’s death Oct. 28, 2009. The report clears the agents of any violation of the federal criminal civil rights statues.

“The justice department should be ashamed of themselves,” Scott said.

Scott says the DOJ took valuable time that could have been used in a search for the truth, to give a presentation that exonerated individuals who participated in the killing of the Detroit Imam.

Dawud Walid, Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan (CAIR-MI) called the DOJ’s 17-page report superficial and incomplete.

“The Department of Justice report fails to explain how Imam Luqman was shot in the back,” said Walid.

Walid says given the public outcry and concerns regarding a person being shot in the back that should have been addressed in detail.

“That shows negligence on the part of the Department of Justice in terms of presenting themselves in having a so-called thorough review,” Walid said.

Walid also says the DOJ’s failure to investigate the use or “potential misusage” of agent provocateurs and usage of military-type raids and attack canines is of concern.

Holding up a letter from House Judiciary Chair Congressman John Conyers to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Walid told media representatives that a request was made by Conyers for the DOJ to review the FBI’s use of informants in mosques. According to Walid, the DOJ has not addressed Conyer’s letter.

Lena F. Masri, Esq., staff attorney for CAIR-MI and co-counsel for the family Abdullah gives four reasons for CAIR’s position that the DOJ’s Report was issued prematurely:

-The report is solely based on witness statements of the four shooters, who gave their statements seven months after the incident in May 2010.

-The report was closed before speaking to other key eye and ear key witnesses. The DOJ did not wait until these witnesses’ cases were adjudicated. According to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, their statements were not important because they were lying face down.

-The report was issued despite the lack of forensic evidence to corroborate the testimony of the four agent shooters.

-The report does not address the manner in which the FBI decided to carry out what should have been a simple arrest of Abudllah.

“The FBI had already obtained an arrest warrant for Imam Luqman,” Masri said. “Instead of arresting him at his home, the FBI set up a full-blown military-type operation.”

Masri says several government agencies were involved in the operation in addition to the FBI Detroit SWAT agents; they included the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, the Royal Canadian Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Dearborn Police, Detroit Police, and Wayne County Sheriff.

In a previous email response to questions regarding Attorney General Mike Cox’s report that also claimed the shooters were justified, FBI spokesperson Maria Miller told this reporter that the additional law enforcement was used on the perimeter and only FBI agents were inside the warehouse — 66 agents.

Xochitl Hinojosa, spokesperson for the DOJ, declined to comment on questions submitted by this reporter stating that the DOJ issued a statement.

The statement released Oct. 13 indicates that the DOJ conducted a “complete, thorough, and independent review.” It cited that the government has to prove violations of the federal statue 18 U.S.C., Section 242.

According to the release, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez explained to the family that based on their review, prosecutors determined that the evidence does not reveal a violation of Section 242.

Abdullah’s son Omar Regan, 35, who spoke at the press conference, said the family is very disappointed and had hopes there would have been a different outcome.

“We hurt. We really hurt,” Regan said. Regan says the family is very disappointed with the U.S. Department of Justice. “I honestly had high hopes they would see [the] injustice.”

Regan questioned exoneration of the four FBI shooters. “What reason can you clear someone that shoots someone 21 times?” he asked.

“As a family we need something more than that.”

Initial accusations of terrorist acts were also not addressed in the DOJ’s report.

During the Oct. 28 sting operation, in a Dearborn warehouse, Abdullah is said to have resisted arrest and shot and killed the FBI canine attack dog that was released on him; the gun having been pointed in the direction of the officers that collectively fired 21 rounds into Abdullah’s body. His body was then handcuffed; the body of the canine was airlifted from the warehouse.

No fingerprints or DNA were found on the Glock 9mm handgun, agents say was in Abdullah’s possession. According to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s report there was no gun residue on Abdullah’s body.

CAIR-MI has filed a series of lawsuits against the Dearborn Police, the Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police, and other law enforcement agencies, brought under FOIA “in an attempt to obtain as much evidence as possible.”

“[We’re] trying to figure out what actually happened,” Masri said.

Chuck Warpehoski, Director of the Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice called the shooting a tragedy and says there needs to be a full investigation to make sure it’s not repeated. “[There needs to be] a full investigation [of law enforcement] that is complete, fair and impartial, to make sure this kind of tragedy doesn’t happen again,” Warpehoski said.

“We are hopeful that there can be Congressional hearings about this case,” Walid said.

The family may file a wrongful death suit.

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