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The leader of a Detroit mosque was killed Wednesday in a shootout with the FBI, which had charged him and 11 of his followers with arms violations and conspiracy to commit federal crimes. The shootout followed a raid by the FBI on a Dearborn warehouse in which the imam refused to surrender and opened fire on agents.
Authorities say Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the slain imam, espoused violence and wanted to create a separate state within the US under Islamic sharia law. Friends and some who knew the religious leader were in disbelief over the allegations.
The official complaint filed by an FBI counterterrorism squad was unsealed Wednesday after a two-year investigation. It said Mr. Abdullah had, among other things, threatened to stage an attack during Super Bowl XL and to commit a suicide bombing as a final courageous deed, reports the Detroit Free Press.
"If they are coming to get to me, I'll just strap a bomb on and blow up everybody," he said in a March 21, 2008, conversation.
Federal officials said Abdullah was the leader of a group that calls itself "Ummah, a group of mostly African-American converts to Islam, which seeks to establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States."
... Authorities said none of the charges levied today are terrorist-related. Abdullah and 11 suspects were charged with felonies including illegal possession and sale of firearms, mail fraud to obtain the proceeds of arson, theft from interstate shipments and tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers.
The mosque's members had been evicted from a building in January for not paying property taxes, says The Detroit News. When they were kicked out, Detroit police confiscated "two firearms, about 40 knives and martial arts weapons from Abdullah's apartment, the complaint alleged."
People who knew Abdullah were skeptical of and rattled by the FBI's allegations.
David Nu'man of Detroit, who considered himself a friend of Abdullah, said he is skeptical about the allegations.
"It doesn't seem to be of his character," said Nu'man, who had attended the mosque on Joy Road but was not a member.
Ihsan Bagby, the general secretary of the Muslim Alliance of North America, said Abdullah was a member of the Lexington, K.Y.-based group, and his shooting shocked the African American Muslim community nationwide.
"We want to know what happened," said Bagby. "We had no inkling of any kind of criminal activity. This is a complete shock to all of us."
FBI raids took place in and around Detroit in the middle of the day. During the arrests suspects were ordered to surrender, reports the Dearborn Press and Guide. "At one location, four suspects surrendered and were arrested without incident ... Abdullah, a.k.a. Christopher Thomas, did not surrender and fired his weapon."
Though his attempted arrest was not tied to terrorism charges, the FBI report paints Abdullah as a man who identified with terrorists, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"America must fall," Abdullah said, according to the complaint. At another point, he "told followers that they need to be with the Taliban, Hizballah, and with Sheikh Bin Laden."
"We should be figuring out how to fight the Kuffar," Abdullah said at another point, the indictment states. Kuffar "is a highly derogatory term" used to describe non-Muslims, the document states.