FBI Gunfight Leaves Mich. Suspect Dead

Authorities claim suspect was leader of sect seeking Islamic state in U.S.

October 28, 2009, 8:16 PM

Oct. 28, 2009— -- FBI agents hoping to break up an alleged interstate crime ring dealing in arson, fraud and possibly stolen vehicles, ended up in a gunfight at a Detroit-area warehouse, after which a suspect lay dead.

The FBI sought to arrest Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a.k.a. Christopher Thomas, 53, who a criminal complaint said was the imam of a radical fundamentalist Sunni group called Masjid Al-Haqq that seeks to establish a sovereign Islamic state inside the United States.

But Abdullah, who the FBI claimed had been planning for a confrontation with police, did not surrender during the warehouse raid in Dearborn, Mich., and was killed, officials said. An FBI dog also was killed in the exchange of gunfire.

FBI agents in Detroit did not provide additional comment on the circumstances of the shooting because it is under investigation.

Abdullah and 10 others were charged today in a criminal complaint with conspiracy and theft of interstate shipments, mail fraud to obtain the proceeds of arson, illegal possession and sale of firearms, and the altering and tampering with vehicle identification numbers (VIN).

The case was being investigated by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Detroit, though the men charged today were not charged with terrorism offenses.

The raid followed a series of recent arrests, including those of a man suspected of plotting attacks against New York, to men in Dallas and Springfield, Ill., accused of being homegrown terrorists.

Imad Hamad, director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told a local Detroit news channel that he was told the arrests in the latest case were not related to the suspects' religion.

"Basically, they assured us that this raid, this initiative, is solely criminal and has nothing to do with Muslims or people of Muslim faith," he said in a report by the television station WJBK. "I cannot enter any judgment basically about this. Simply, I don't know them. I got to learn about what I heard today."

FBI: Dead Suspect Planned 'Offensive Jihad' in U.S.

According to the FBI, Abdulluh encouraged members of his mosque to "carry a firearm" and to be prepared for "offensive jihad."

"He regularly preaches anti-government and anti-law enforcement rhetoric," the FBI affidavit in the case alleged. "Abdullah encourages members of the Masjid Al-Haqq, many of whom are convicted felons, to carry a firearm, and information obtained during the course of this investigation indicates that many of Abdullah's followers are usually armed."

But Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of theCouncil on American-Islamic Relations, told The Associated Press the federal authorities' description of Abdullah's extremist links didn't match what he knew of Abdullah, who he said had a wife and children.

"I knew him to be charitable," Walid told the AP. "He would open up the mosque to homeless people. He used to run a soup kitchen and feed indigent people. ... I knew nothing of him that was related to any nefarious or criminal behavior."

A phone number for the family had been disconnected, the AP reported.

In addition, men gathered near Abdullah's mosque, a small house on Clairmont Street on Detroit's East Side, allegedly attacked a newspaper photographer from The Detroit News who attempted to take pictures there around 6:30 p.m. Police are investigating the incident.

Abdullah allegedly sought his guidance from Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rapp Brown, a black radical currently serving a life sentence at the Supermax prison in Colorado for shooting two Georgia police officers. Brown's philosophy evolved from the nonviolent civil rights movement of the 1960s to one of black power and decades of preaching hate.

"There should be more shooting than looting," Brown once said. "That's the only thing I agree with. Black folks started looting when they should be shooting."

The FBI has been increasingly concerned that fundamentalist prison converts -- such as, they claim, suspects in this case -- could pose a threat.

According to the complaint and FBI affidavit, a confidential source told the FBI that "members of the Masjid Al-Haqq are ready to use any means necessary to safeguard the mosque. ... Abdullah has an armed group known as the 'Sutra Team' that is responsible for the security of the mosque."

10 Others Charged

Aside from the warehouse incident, the FBI also executed search warrants at two other addresses -- 4467 Tireman Avenue and 9278 Genessee Street in Detroit.

Of the 10 other men charged, one is already in jail, Mohammad Abdul Bassir (a.k.a. Frankin D. Roosevelt Williams); six have been arrested and three suspects are at large, possibly in Canada, according to FBI officials. Those men are Mujahid Carswell (a.k.a. Mujahid Abdullah), Mohammad Alsahi (a.k.a. Mohammad Palestine) and Yassir Ali Khan.

According to the FBI affidavit, Luqman Abdallah in mid-2008 had discussed feeling the need to take violent action against non-Muslims.

"We are going to have to fight against the Kafir," the affidavit quoted him as saying. "They smashing the Muslims all over the world and then we sit here like everything is all right."

The group engaged in their criminal activities of stolen VIN numbers and stolen merchandise, including computers and TVs to gather money to host religious counsel and fundraising efforts, according to the FBI documents. Several of the men charged have prior criminal convictions as far back as the 1970s.

ABC News' Tahman Bradley and Michael S. James, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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