Family of slain Detroit cleric is 'hurt' by probe

AP News
Posted: Oct 14, 2010 5:13 PM
Family of slain Detroit cleric is 'hurt' by probe

The son of a Detroit mosque leader killed during a shootout with the FBI said Thursday he and his family are disappointed and hurt by a U.S. Justice Department report clearing agents of any wrongdoing.

Omar Regan said the federal review into the death last October of his father, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, lacked sufficient evidence to prove his father's death was justified. He hoped the report released Wednesday would reveal violations by FBI agents during the raid in a Dearborn warehouse that included dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement officers.

"We hurt - we really hurt, and we're disappointed in the Department of Justice," said Regan, who was joined at a news conference by Christian, Muslim and civil-rights leaders. "It's been nearly a year. I honestly had high hopes that they would honestly see injustice. It's clear to everybody on the ground level that it was not legitimate."

Abdullah's widow, Amina Abdullah, also attended but declined to speak on advice from her attorneys.

Regan and others at the meeting said there's no additional audio, video, ballistics or other evidence to support the FBI's claim that his father shot or even possessed a gun. Abdullah was shot 20 times when agents tried to arrest him on stolen-goods charges.

The report concludes that "the evidence indicates that each of the FBI agents who fired his weapon had a legitimate reason to believe that deadly force was necessary and reasonable in order to prevent Imam Abdullah from shooting agents with a handgun that he brandished and fired."

The report also concluded it was not unreasonable for other agents to release a dog to help subdue Abdullah as he resisted. And it said that the agents who handcuffed and searched him once he was subdued neither injured him nor used unreasonable force.

The assistant attorney general for civil rights, Thomas E. Perez, met with Abdullah's family in Detroit on Wednesday and later with representatives of interested local groups to explain the department's findings.

The agents were previously cleared by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, and a 300-page report from the Dearborn Police Department backed up that decision.

Lena Masri, attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter who also is representing Abdullah's family, said the federal report's findings are based on interviews with four agents who fired weapons and they were conducted seven months after the shooting. She said the report lacked statements from other agents and nongovernmental witnesses.

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"They're asking us to accept the statements of four shooters," she said.

Masri said the family is reviewing reports and documents and seeking more information from various law enforcement agencies. It will consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit later.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the council's Michigan chapter, said his group and others continue to call for the Justice Department to review the FBI's use of informants in mosques. He said the government failed to probe the potential misuse of informants "acting as agent-provocateurs in this case."

Federal authorities have described Abdullah as the leader of a radical Sunni group that aims to create an Islamic state within the U.S. Authorities say Abdullah preached hate for the government and encouraged followers to commit violence, especially against police and federal agents. According to court records, Abdullah had even warned that "it will be straight-up war" if the government engaged with him.

Abdullah's family has denied that he was a radical cleric.

"I know who my father was," Regan said.