Friday, October 30, 2009

Judge Refuses to Recuse Himself in Jackie Selebi Trial

Selebi trial: Judge Joffe stands firm


Judge Meyer Joffe has declined to recuse himself from hearing the Jackie Selebi corruption trial.

In a strongly worded ruling, read out to the South Gauteng High Court on Friday, Meyer meticulously went through each of Selebi's complaints against him, and dismissed each with phrases like "unfounded" or "unfortunate and wrong".

This means Joffe will continue to preside over the marathon trial of the former top cop, which will resume on Monday when Selebi's counsel, Jaap Cilliers, will continue his cross-examination of drug dealer Glenn Agliotti.

After reciting rulings from Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal judgements, he laid down the basis for his decision by listing all of Selebi's complaints, and finding that all of them gave no reasonable suspicion of bias, and were "without merit" or "ill-founded". He did not concede to a single complaint.

"I have considered the complaints objectively," said Joffe. "I am unable to conclude on the papers before me that any single complaint ... or all the complaints … show bias or give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias. The application for my recusal is dismissed."

Selebi's complaints included Joffe's alleged hostility towards Cilliers, Joffe not reprimanding state prosecutor Gerrie Nel for his alleged misconduct in the trial, and accusations that Joffe "assisted" Agliotti in finding "a way out", when it appeared Agliotti had lied.

Selebi told the Mail & Guardian Online after the ruling: "I'm feeling OK, I'm good." When the M&G Online asked if he is looking forward to relating his side of the story, Selebi said: "My time will come."

'I have not been affected by the media'

Argument in the recusal application took place on Thursday. "Your lordship was to some extent hostile to the defence," said Cilliers during his argument, referring to interactions between himself and Joffe when he attempted to cross-examine Agliotti on the contents of an article in City Press newspaper.

Cilliers said that he has been in his profession for a long time, and was used to "rude remarks from the bench", to which Joffe, clearly disturbed, replied, "I take the greatest umbrage in that."

Cilliers, although taking jabs at Joffe's neutrality, insisted throughout his arguments that he was "not suggesting that your lordship is deliberately dishonest", but, rather that his actions may cause Selebi to perceive or suspect that he is biased.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel then had his turn to speak and called Selebi's application for the judge's recusal "weak".

"There is no real merit in this application," he said, adding that the application was based on attacking the prosecution, the Scorpions and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Nel also dismissed the strength of Cilliers's earlier claim that Joffe's partiality was affected by media reports.

"The accused is not the first person to stand trial with a media campaign against him," said Nel. "I'm going to refer to ... Advocate Barbie. That case ran for about a year. The judge passed away and another judge had to take over. Are you saying that we have to ask every judge 'did you read the papers?'".

Joffe, whose mood appeared to have lifted after the lunch break, replied: "Are you asking me to pass away?" to laughter, and a sense of relief, from the courtroom.

Joffe then removed his glasses and said: "This is a very difficult application because it goes to my every essence. I consider myself a well-informed South African. I get a number of papers delivered to my home. But I do not read matters that are not fact ... I have not been affected by the media."

'How long have you been senior counsel?'

Earlier on Thursday, Cilliers listed the ways in which Selebi felt that Joffe had been biased against him. The first was that when Agliotti admitted to lying to the court Joffe did not raise the issue of the "conduct of the prosecution" who "had knowledge of the fact that their witness was lying".

Cilliers's next point was that chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel and his prosecuting team withheld important documents from the defence, which they then included in a bundle they had handed to Joffe.

"The prosecution acted with ulterior motive ... they manipulated the evidence," said Cilliers. "You did not raise how it came about that the documents were put in that bundle."

Joffe, appearing to be nearing the end of his tether, asked Cilliers: "Mr Cilliers, how long have you been senior counsel? If you felt hard done by by Mr Nel's conduct, why didn't you tell me? I would've dealt with it. Why do you put it at my door and not raise it yourself ... I'm being taken to task for not chastising Mr Nel. I'm putting it to you, why didn't you raise the objection?"

The third issue revolved around a controversial City Press article of two weeks ago, which described a video that had been leaked to the newspaper by an unknown source. Joffe had not allowed Cilliers to complete cross-examining Agliotti on the article.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Former Central African Republic Leader Returns From Exile

Ex-Central African Republic president returns from exile: aide

Fri Oct 30, 4:42 PM

BANGUI (AFP) - The former president of the Central African Republic, Ange-Felix Patasse, returned home Friday after more than six years in exile, a close aide told AFP.

Patasse was president from 1999 until March 2003, when he was deposed by Francois Bozize, who is still in power, and since then has been living in exile in Togo.

He plans to stand in 2010 presidential elections.

A close aide to the former president, Sosthene Nguetel, said the homecoming had taken place without incident. Patasse, however, did not speak to the press, and was moved from the airport to a secret location.

Security was tight around Bangui airport, with the press kept away by a large deployment of police and soldiers.

Bozize's government has said that it would not oppose the return to the country of its former leader, and the two politicians are expected to meet in the coming days, Patasse's aides said.

Patasse had urged his supporters inside the country to stage a peaceful reception for him and to respect law and order.

West African Girls Worst Victims of Economic Crisis

West African girls worst victims of economic crisis: NGO

DAKAR (AFP) – Young girls in west Africa will be disproportionately affected by the global economic downturn, children's charity Plan International warned on Friday.

"The global economic crisis does threaten many of the recent advances we have seen in west Africa especially for girls," Plan chief executive officer Niger Chapman told a press conference in Dakar.

Young women are often the first victims of any economic downturn because they are already in a marginalised position and seen as being worth less to their families, according to Plan's 2009 report titled "Because I'm a girl".

"They are the most vulnerable, the least likely to survive, be fed, go to school and stay healthy," Plan said.

In west Africa the position of girls in society is even more fragile than in other developing regions because they suffer from more gender discrimination, Plan spokeswoman Stefanie Conrad said.

"We know from our day-to-day work that once household resources get scarce girls quit school because a girl's education is less valued," she said.

West Africa already has far lower rates of enrolment and success for girls in school than other developing regions, she said.

The effects of the crisis could be long term in the region, where many girls are pulled of school to save money or forced to stay home and look after their siblings while their mothers find jobs to supplement the family income.

"Every year is precious in a child's life. You only get the chance once and if you miss school (as a child) it is difficult to catch up later," Chapman said.

Although Plan is not launching a particular campaign linked to its report, the organisation said it was looking at how it can continue to contribute to improving the situation of girls in the region through programs such as sponsoring of children and supporting mircofinance schemes, Chapman said.

President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa Addresses the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand

Address by the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, Mr Jacob Zuma, to the Pan African Parliament; Gallagher Estate, Midrand
26 October 2009

Your Excellency, President of the Pan-African Parliament, Dr Idriss Ndele Moussa;
Your Excellency, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Jean Ping,
Honourable Ministers, Deputy Ministers,
Members of the diplomatic corps,
Honoured Members of the Pan African Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen;

I feel greatly honoured and privileged to address the First Ordinary Session of the Second Legislature of the Pan-African Parliament.

On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all participants in this inaugural session.

I would also like to congratulate the new Bureau on its election to office; in particular the new President of Pan-African Parliament.

This year marks the 5th anniversary of the formation of the Pan-African Parliament in March 2004.

It is a date that will be recorded in history as a pivotal moment in our efforts to ensure that the peoples of Africa determine their collective future.

The establishment of the Pan-African Parliament was informed by a vision to provide a common platform for African peoples to be more involved in decisions on the challenges facing the continent.

These decisions affect people directly.

We therefore need to find ways and means for people to be part of the processes that have an impact on their lives.

The Pan-African Parliamentarians are the elected representatives of the peoples of Africa.

We remain committed to the aim of the Pan-African Parliament to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage.

As a forum representing the parliaments and peoples of Africa, the Pan-African Parliament has a major role to play in deepening democratic ideals and ensuring respect for the rule of law, and equality throughout the continent.

We need to pose the question: What does it means to deepen democratic ideals, and how do we ensure respect for the rule of law?

Importantly, do we all have a common understanding of what these concepts mean?

This Parliament needs to help elucidate these concepts, so that this common understanding becomes entrenched on our continent and in individual countries.

Excellencies and Honourable Members;

It is fundamentally important that we encourage other member states to ratify the Protocol establishing the Pan-African Parliament.

The Pan-African Parliament is the only continental institution that has such broad representation of the public representatives of Africa.

It is this institution that constitutes a single collective voice of the ordinary people of our continent.

They are, in the main, voiceless in many existing forums, be they political, economic, cultural, religious or traditional.

It is therefore an appropriate institution to exercise oversight to ensure that governments pursue African Union programmes at the continental level and national programmes within individual countries.

It must speak on behalf of the peoples of Africa, and diligently pursue their common interests.

As the host country, South Africa is determined to provide the best possible conditions for this assembly to successfully discharge its mandate.

Excellencies, and Honourable Members;
Five years ago, members of the Pan-African Parliament adopted the slogan “One Africa, One Voice”.

The pertinent question is how do we realise this ‘one voice’ without a serious debate on the matters of life and death that face our continent?

We have not been able to discuss properly many of these problems, particularly the outstanding issue of conflict and war.

This slogan means we need to give concrete expression to our commitment to the continuation of the Pan-Africanist agenda pursued by the founding leaders of post-colonial Africa.

This is to be realised through the harmonisation and coordination of the policies and laws made at national and regional levels, and by promoting a sense of unity and common destiny among the people of Africa.

At the 12th Summit of the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament was mandated to develop a mechanism to ensure sound and effective contact, as well as the full participation of the peoples of Africa within the integration processes of Africa.

This mandate truly speaks to the confidence that we all continue to have in the Pan-African Parliament as one of the lead agents in the democratic project in Africa.

Once again, the question we must answer is what is our common understanding of the democratic project in Africa?

During the week of the 5th to 9th of October 2009 the Pan-African Parliament hosted important consultative meetings focusing on gender issues and the promotion of the work of the Pan-African Parliament through different African Parliaments.

I would like to congratulate the Pan-African Parliament for the initiative as well as successful deliberations held.

We look forward to implementation of the outcomes of the Conferences.

I firmly believe that the outcomes thereof will guide the Honourable Members in fruitful and vibrant deliberations during this Session.

Excellencies and Honourable Members;
This Parliament has many weighty matters to consider during its term.

Critically, it has to ensure that its deliberations strengthen the continent-wide effort to promote development, economic growth, peace, stability and democracy.

On four of these issues – peace, stability, human rights and democracy – the Pan-African Parliament can no longer delay a detailed discussion leading up to specific resolutions and recommendations to the AU.

If these issues are not discussed, there would be very little point for the existence of this Parliament

When it rises, this assembly needs to be able to point to progress in advancing these goals.

It needs to demonstrate that it is not merely a forum for debate, but an institution that forms an essential part of the renewal of our continent.

While we have achieved much since our people threw off the colonial yoke, we face many challenges.

Though we have achieved much in just the last few years, we cannot become complacent.

Africa’s people remain among the poorest in the world.

This is despite our continent being richly endowed with natural resources.

Our people remain exposed to disease and malnutrition, with high rates of child mortality and declining life expectancy, despite significant medical advances and improved health care provision.

Parts of our continent are still plagued by war and conflict, political instability and the removal of governments by unconstitutional means.

In such circumstances, development is stifled and economic activity severely curtailed.

It is the ordinary people who suffer – the very people that we in this assembly represent.

This is an indictment of all of us, individually and collectively.

We therefore have a profound responsibility to do everything we can to answer these challenges, and to build a better life for our peoples.

We proceed from an understanding that it is not sufficient for each national parliament to diligently undertake its work.

While it is possible for any one country to improve its situation, it is by working together that we can achieve that which our people need.

For this reason, among others, we are encouraged that the Pan-African Parliament will soon be able to transform itself from an advisory into a legislative body.

We look forward to the day when the peoples of Africa can send their representatives to the seat of this Parliament to fashion laws that will bring about a tangible improvement in all their lives.

Honourable Members,
Those who are gathered in this assembly are the most potent embodiment of democracy in Africa.

Among your responsibilities is to further instil democratic values and deepen democratic practices across the continent.

Already, the Pan-African Parliament has played an important role in contributing towards fair, free and transparent elections in a number of countries.

It needs to broaden this element of its work, which must include adopting standards for the holding of elections, so that the right of people to choose their own governments democratically is not undermined.

Important as elections are to the democratic process, they are but one element of a range of political, social and economic activities that must enable people to determine their own future.

We need to encourage people to organise, mobilise and work for their own advancement.

We need to support the development of grassroots structures and sectoral organisations.

It is our responsibility to build people’s power, not only within these walls, but in every place on this continent where people live and work.

Honourable Members,
This Parliament is also an embodiment of African unity.

Its mere existence is a confirmation that the vision of African unity that motivated so many of our continent’s greatest leaders remains undiminished.

The question of unity is what the founders of the OAU worked to achieve over many decades.

It is the matter this Parliament cannot avoid discussing at all times to support the efforts of the AU.

In this way, through this Parliament, the people of this continent will find a way to participate in the ongoing discussion on the African union government.

History has bestowed on us the responsibility to make a reality of that vision of unity.

In all our engagements, we should seek to preserve unity among our nations and advance a unified programme for development.

This Parliament is an important part of the political integration of our continent.

It will become increasingly important as we proceed towards the formation of a union government for Africa.

As we pursue this important objective, we must pay greater attention to the economic integration of our continent.

It is in this area where Africa’s greatest untapped economic potential is to be found.

Our economic development is hampered by the barriers we ourselves have constructed along the lines of the colonial maps.

As a consequence, we find ourselves divided into more than 50 different markets, with a multiplicity of trade and investment regulations, manufacturing standards, currencies, and jurisdictions.

Our electricity, transport and telecommunications infrastructure is fragmented, and often not compatible.

We do not collaborate in scientific development and technological innovation.

Most of our countries have a greater volume of trade with countries across the ocean than with those with whom we share the same soil.

It is a standing joke that there are some places in Africa where one has to fly to a European capital in order to catch a flight to a neighbouring country.

These are the very practical constraints to the progress of our continent, and the liberation of our peoples from the tyranny of underdevelopment.

Excellencies and Honourable Members,
South Africa is privileged to host the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup from June next year, which will be the first time that the tournament is held on African soil.

We hope that this historic event can be used as a driving force for African unity.

We hope that all of Africa will embrace this occasion as an opportunity to showcase our continent in all its diversity, richness and vibrancy.

To the Honourable Members of this Pan-African Parliament, the representatives of the people of this great continent, we thank you for the opportunity to address you and wish you well in all your deliberations.

I thank you.

Commonwealth Interim Statement on the 2009 Mozambique National Elections

2009 Mozambique Elections - Interim Statement

30 October 2009

The 28 October 2009 elections are Mozambique’s 4th national multi-party elections. The Commonwealth was pleased to be invited by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Co-Operation to observe the elections, and I am honoured to have been asked by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth to lead its Observer Group.

The Commonwealth team has been present in the country since 21 October. We have met with a range of stakeholders, including the National Election Commission (CNE), the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), political parties, civil society, media, other observer groups and Commonwealth High Commissions and representatives of the international community present in Mozambique.

During the election period, Commonwealth Observers reported from ten of the 11 provinces in the country and we have co-ordinated closely with other regional and international observers as well as national observers, building up a comprehensive picture of the conduct of the process. This is our Interim Statement, and represents an overview of our key findings up to this point. It is important to stress that this statement is only interim, as the tabulation process is continuing and the final results yet to be declared.

Key Interim Findings

The 28 October National and Provincial elections in Mozambique were conducted in a largely peaceful atmosphere. Voting and counting in the polling stations on election day was well administered and now the vital tabulation process is underway.

While there were some reports of incidents during the campaign it benefitted from the calls for good behaviour by party leaders, for which they are to be commended. The election, up to this point, has met a number of key democratic benchmarks, providing for freedom of association, expression, assembly and movement, as well as equal and universal suffrage and the right to vote.

However, disputes over the nomination of party lists for the National and Provincial Assembly elections and a lack of transparency in some key aspects of the work of the National Election Commission (CNE) were of concern.

There was controversy during the pre-election period regarding the rejection of some political party lists for the National Assembly elections, with claims and counter-claims being made between some opposition parties and the CNE, requiring a ruling by the Constitutional Council. The CNE claimed it had adhered strictly to legal provisions but affected parties claimed interference with their submissions. The nominations process would have enjoyed more confidence and credibility had greater transparency been provided.

Voters were offered a competitive choice between political alternatives in the Presidential elections. But for the National and Provincial Assembly elections the rejection of candidate lists for some parties – while acknowledging that in some instances parties may also have been culpable - was to effectively limit the choices offered to voters in affected Provinces. This impacted on both the National and Provincial Assembly elections, and is most acutely illustrated by fact that Frelimo was unopposed in more than 60 of the 141 constituencies for the 10 Provincial Assemblies.

CNE and STAE have a strong technical capacity and the delivery of materials across the country was vastly improved compared to 2004, thereby enabling the commencement of polling on time in the vast majority of cases. However, there is concern at the lack of transparency in some aspects of CNE’s work.

For instance a lot of key information was not published in good time or at all, such as: party candidate lists; information on which parties were contesting in which district for Provincial Assembly elections; polling station codes; and, the number of voters registered in each polling station.

The electoral calendar as prescribed by related laws is somewhat compressed, creating tight deadlines for the CNE and a lack of adequate sequencing of key electoral elements, such as the completion of voter registration and the commencement of candidate nomination.

During the campaign, contestants enjoyed the requisite freedoms. There were some violent incidents reported, particularly at the start of the campaign, such as skirmishes between party supporters or attacks on some party offices. But overall the campaign was relatively calm. However, it was also reported that state resources were used by the ruling party in the conduct of its campaign.

Overall, media provided comprehensive coverage of the campaign and in-depth coverage on the day of the election. It is encouraging that media monitoring efforts suggest that there was generally balanced coverage among public and private media.

On election day, observers reported that voters were free to express their will through a secret ballot. Polling stations generally opened on time and were well organized by the staff, who appeared to be well trained. There were some reports of minor incidents and technical shortcomings, such as inaccurate or missing voter lists, but overall it was a well-administered vote.

Observers reported that the count at the polling station was generally well conducted but lengthy. The presence of party representatives at the polling stations and their ability to receive a certified copy of results at the polling station and at district and provincial levels helps provide transparency and accountability for this crucial aspect of the process and greater confidence in the outcome.

The process is continuing, with results being tabulated at District, Provincial and National levels. It is expected that final results will be tabulated fully and transparently with official results issued as soon as available in order to maintain confidence. We also hope that if the CNE makes any corrections to the final result due to decisions on invalid votes or because of adjudication on complaints that these changes will be fully transparent.

Each election should build on the last, strengthening the process and providing for improved conditions. Looking forward, it appears that by virtue of its parliamentary size and longevity in power, the ruling party enjoys a predominant position. In order to further deepen democracy in Mozambique it is important to ensure that for future elections the process enjoys a greater degree of transparency and the playing field is reasonably level for all aspirant participants, thereby increasing confidence and participation and helping to encourage consolidation of the country’s multi-party system.

The Legal Framework

Mozambique has signed and ratified key regional and international instruments, relating to political and civil rights. The constitution and election-related laws provide basic freedoms and rights required for an election. These include the provision of freedoms of association, expression, assembly and movement. The right to participate as both voters and candidates is also provided for, though there were concerns regarding the opportunity to participate for some candidate lists. However, there are now a number of separate laws relating to the election, creating quite a complex legal framework, with some overlapping provisions.

Election Administration

The make up of the members for the national, provincial and district level Election Commissions was also altered. Now all bodies have a mixed membership of appointees from the two largest parties in Parliament alongside a majority of appointees from civil society. In theory this is a reasonable mechanism for ensuring broader and non-political representation on the election management bodies.

However, the mechanism for identifying the civil society representatives did result in some sectors of civil society expressing concern that the party members did not give proper consideration to all civil society nominees, thereby undermining some of the intended confidence-building measures.

An updated voter registration exercise was conducted, resulting in more than 9 million registered voters for these elections. There were some technical problems during the registration exercise but universal suffrage is largely provided for. For future elections, it is important that the printing and distribution of voter registers avoids any of the problems – albeit localized ones - identified during this process.

Election Campaign

The election campaign lasted for 45 days, followed by a 48-hour period of campaign silence. It was reported to the Observer Group that overall the election campaign was relatively peaceful, and that a call by the Presidential candidates for a peaceful campaign generally had a positive impact on the conduct of supporters.

There were reports of problems, notably at the outset of the campaign but also isolated incidents throughout. For instance there were reports of some violent clashes between party supporters, damaging of party premises or disruption of rallies by groups of supporters. Such incidents are of concern but appear to have been kept to a relatively low level in this instance.

Voting, Counting and Tabulation

On the day of the election, the Commonwealth Observer Group reported that the delivery of materials had been well conducted, enabling a timely opening in the vast majority of cases. During the early phase of the day relatively large numbers of people turned out and there were long, orderly queues in many places. Polling stations were generally well organised and the processing of voters was extremely thorough if a little slow, partly due to the fact that people were voting in three elections simultaneously. Overall, Observers reported very positively on the conduct of voting, commenting that in the vast majority of stations the process was carefully and properly managed.

It was reported that the CNE issued a number of relatively late new instructions on the administering of voting, which led to some inconsistent procedures in the polling stations, though all in the spirit of the law. There were problems in some areas with the printing or delivery of the voter registers. For example, in a District in Sofala, observers reported that in a number of places batches of names were missing from the list, and polling officials were inconsistent in dealing with the problem. In a District in Nampula there was some tension as a polling station had the wrong register, preventing people from voting at the time of our visit. There were reports that two national observers were detained, which if true is extremely unfortunate.

Observers reported that polling stations closed on time, with persons waiting to vote being allowed to do so and that the count of ballots was rigorous. It is important that complaints and appeals are dealt with fairly and openly and that any anomalous individual polling station results are looked into. We are cognisant that the tabulation process is still on-going and a vital element of the process. We will issue a final detailed report of conclusions and recommendations at a later stage.

For media enquiries, please contact Ms. Victoria Holdsworth at +258 824 186 594 or

Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah Assassinated by FBI Agents

Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah Assassinated by FBI Agents in Dearborn

11 arrested on complaints while community expresses shock and disbelief at federal claims

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

A well known African American Islamic leader in Detroit who headed the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque on the city’s west side, was shot to death by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on October 28 at a warehouse in Dearborn. Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, was killed during the course of a series of raids by both federal agents and local police departments resulting in the arrests of 11 people.

Corporate media reports on the killing of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the others, has been framed as a “counter-terrorism’ operation. This is being done despite the fact that the raids were conducted based on criminal complaints that have no specific allegations of violations of federal law or acts of terrorism.

In a joint statement issued by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it states that “The eleven defendants are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years and known to be armed.”

However, many people who knew Imam Abdullah and the members of Masjid Al-Haqq say that the group worked to rid the severely oppressed community where the mosque existed of the social ills resulting from years of exploitation and neglect.

Even the mosque itself fell victim to the economic crisis that is worsening in Detroit. On January 20, Masjid Al-Haqq was evicted from the building where they had been housed for years as a result of tax foreclosure. The mosque relocated at a home on Clairmount which was also raided on October 28.

Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan chapter, said of Imam Abdullah that “I know him as a respected imam in the Muslim community.”

Walid continued by saying that “We have no information about illegal activity going on at that mosque. Of Imam Abdullah, Walid said he “would give the shirt off his back to people. The congregation he led was poor. He fed very hungry people in the neighborhood who were Christian. He helped and assisted a lot of troubled youth. People would come up to him who were hungry and he would let them sleep in the mosque. He would let them in from the elements.” (Detroit News, October 29, p. 15)

The CAIR leader said that “They have no linkage to terrorism nationally or internationally. What in the world does Islam have to do with these charges? Why is religion being brought into play?”

Resurrecting Cointelpro

Not only is the FBI and the corporate media utilizing the false construct of “Islamic extremism,” it is also attempting to draw a direct link between the revolutionary movements that emerged during the 1960s with the arrest of the Masjid Al-Haqq members and the death of Imam Abdullah.

Because of a close relationship between Imam Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, and Imam Abdullah during previous years, the role of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panther Party (BPP) have been evoked in news coverage of the FBI and police raids. Imam Al-Amin was a field organizer for SNCC and would later serve as national chairman of the civil rights and black power group in 1967-68.

Al-Amin, who is currently serving a life sentence in Georgia after being convicted in the death of a deputy sheriff and the wounding of another in Atlanta in 2000, also briefly held the position of Minister of Justice in the Black Panther Party during 1968. Imam Al-Amin served as SNCC chair during a period of extreme repression against the organization in 1967-68.

Al-Amin has always maintained his innocence in the deaths of the law-enforcement officers in Atlanta and has sought to win an appeal of his case for many years. Reports from the Georgia prison system where he is being held indicate that he has been harassed and placed in isolation on numerous occasions.

It was the organizing work of SNCC that was partly blamed by the FBI and the corporate media during 1967-68 for the urban rebellions that erupted in over two hundred cities. The Black Panther Party would suffer the brunt of the Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) operations that were directed against the African American community.

Over two dozen members of the BPP were killed between 1968 and 1971 when former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had labeled the organization as the most dangerous threat to the national security of the United States. Hundreds of Panthers and other revolutionaries of the time were arrested and railroaded through the courts. Many others were driven into exile abroad and forced underground inside the United States.

According to the FBI complaint, which consist of 45 pages of highly spurious allegations, Abdullah “calls his followers to an offensive jihad” and that they should “have a weapon and should not be scared to use their weapon when needed.”

Nonetheless, David Nu’man, who lives in Detroit and considered Imam Abdullah a friend, stressed that he is very skeptical about the claims made against the Islamic leader and his followers. “It doesn’t seem to be of his character.” (Detroit News, October 29, p. 15)

Ron Scott, who was one of the founding members of the Detroit chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, spoke to the Pan-African News Wire about the death of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the Masjid Al-Haqq members.

Scott, who is now the spokesperson for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and a media host on the locally broadcast “For My People” television show as well as the “Fighting for Justice” radio program aired every week, expressed disbelief at the allegations made against Abdullah and the others that were arrested.

“This reflects a standard of repression that we have not seen in a long time,” Scott told the Pan-African News Wire on October 29. “There should be an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Imam Abdullah.”

The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) discussed the killing of Imam Abdullah at their weekly meeting held on October 28 in Detroit. In a telephone call to the offices of the Council of American-Islamic Relations on October 29, a MECAWI representative expressed the organization’s condolences and solidarity with the Islamic community.

MECAWI offered its support to any protest efforts geared towards seeking justice in the death of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the other Muslim members of Masjid Al-Haqq. Walid, the executive director who took MECAWI’s call, expressed his appreciation for the sympathy and concern conveyed by the anti-war organization.

Backdrop to the death of Imam Abdullah

Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, repression against the Islamic, Middle-Eastern and South Asian communities in the U.S. has escalated at an alarming rate. A number of people have been attacked and even killed in racist violence.

Many more people from these communities have been imprisoned unjustly and deported. A number of charitable organizations have been taken into court for allegedly funding “terrorist” groups and some have been forced to shut down by the U.S. government.

Even the CAIR has been targeted by these governmental efforts. In Texas during 2007, members of an Islamic charity were put on trial for supposedly funding Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Since conversion to the Islamic faith has been taking place within the African American community at a phenomenal rate over the last few decades, both the scrouge of anti-Islamic hysteria and racism has been utilized by the federal government to enhance the repressive apparatus in the United States. This pattern of surveillance, harassment and entrapment is utilized in a desperate attempt by Homeland Security and the Pentagon to build support for the ongoing wars of occupation against Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In addition to these Middle-Eastern and Asian nations, the countries of Sudan and Somalia on the African continent, which are predominantly Muslim, have also been focal points for U.S. imperialist intervention over the last several years. Many of the developing nations that have been identified by the U.S. imperialists for destabilization and occupation have majority Muslim populations of people of color.

Consequently, anti-war, civil rights and human rights organizations should view the current wave of repression against the Islamic community as having both a domestic and foreign policy objective. By demonizing the Islamic community, whether the Muslims are of African, Middle-Eastern or Asian descent, it provides a mechanism for the repressive apparatus of the state to justify the continuation and escalation of military involvement abroad.

At the same time, the increasing repression against the African American, Islamic, Latina/o and other working class communities inside the United States is designed to hamper the ability of people to organize against the growing economic crisis that is disproportionately affecting the oppressed people inside the domestic confines of the country.

Nonetheless, the fight against this wave of repression can potentially bring together workers and the oppressed from broad sections of the United States in alliance with the developing countries that are under increasing threat by U.S. imperialism.

Zimbabwe News Update: Chando a Selfless Leader Says VP Mujuru; UN Gatecrasher Back in Vienna

Chando a selfless leader: VP Mujuru

Herald Reporters

Vice President Joice Mujuru has described the late national hero, Cde Misheck Chando, as a selfless leader who never boasted about his exploits during the liberation war.

Cde Chando, who will be buried at the National Heroes' Acre tomorrow, died in a car crash last Friday.

His body was yesterday flown to his farm in Shamva aboard an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter from a funeral parlour in Bindura.

The body, which was accompanied by Cde Chando’s two wives Chipo and Sophia, arrived at 3:15pm where it was received by the Zanu-PF provincial leadership and hundreds of mourners from across the province.

In an interview yesterday, VP Mujuru said she met Cde Chando in 1974 and since that time she discovered that the late hero was a leader quite different from other commanders leading the liberation struggle.

"I met Cde Chando soon after crossing the Zambezi as he had been assigned to welcome some cadres moving towards Chifombo and rescue some recruits. I was suffering from a serious bout of malaria and he carried me on his back for the journey.

"I had been left to die but he helped me and that is when I discovered that he was a man with a big heart and very kind in deed.

"He was an extraordinary leader, a super commander who operated in an unusual manner for a leader because he never used to be hard on us, as a military commander and we learnt a lot from him," she said.

VP Mujuru also described Cde Chando as a leader who always led from the front.

"Cde Chando was not afraid to lead from the front and was also a man who unlike others talk loudly about their exploits during the war. He was not pompous or proud but was a silent mover.

"Had it not been for characters like Cde Chando, not vanagudzamudungwe, but real man we would not have achieved all we did. We have lost a fighter, a man with a big heart.

"We are where we are because of him. We still had a lot to learn from him," she said.

Zanu-PF provincial chairman Cde Dickson Mafios yesterday said a church service would be held today at Bamboo Creek Farm.

"We will then hand over the body to the state. The body will be flown to 1Commando Barracks in Harare, where it will lie in state," Cde Mafios said.

Cde Chando also known by his Chimurenga name of Cde Makasha will be buried tomorrow at the national shrine.

He is survived by two wives Chipo and Sophia, and 18 children, 11 boys and 7 girls.

‘Gatecrashing’ UN envoy back in Vienna

Herald Reporters

United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture Mr Manfred Nowak yesterday returned to his base in Vienna, Austria, after trying to gatecrash into Zimbabwe against the Government’s advice to reschedule his planned visit.

Immigration authorities confirmed that the UN human rights expert caught the first plane out of Harare to South Africa yesterday morning.

"He went back after spending the night at the airport. He was on the 7:20am South African Airways flight to Johannesburg," a source said.

The Austrian human rights lawyer arrived in Harare on Wednesday night despite Government telling him that his visit had been postponed because Zimbabwe is presently hosting a Sadc delegation.

The Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs had invited Mr Nowak to Zimbabwe to see for himself that the State was not sponsoring any human rights abuses.

He arrived at the airport accompanied by two unidentified persons but was whisked off to the VIP Lounge after being allowed to get his luggage.

The UN expert arrived on the same flight as members of the Mozambican contingent of the Sadc delegation that is in the country to review the Global Political Agreement.

Mr Nowak ignored Government’s communication and said that he was coming to Zimbabwe to meet MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

Back in South Africa, Mr Nowak said the decision to deny him entry into Zimbabwe was indicative of the shortcomings of the inclusive Government.

Internet news reports quoted him saying: "The Government, as a unity Government, does not function.

"It (the rescheduling of his visit) sheds a very negative light on the functioning of the Government."

Mr Nowak alleged that Zanu-PF was behind the decision to deny him entry.

The UN expert was, however, invited to Zimbabwe by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is from Zanu-PF.

"The responsibility for the failure rests exclusively… with those Zanu-PF members of the Government that actually produced the situation by denying me access to the country.

"It sheds a clear light as to where the real power is lying in this unity Government," Mr Nowak said.

Over the past week, there has been a glut of news reports in the foreign Press of State-sponsored attacks on MDC-T supporters’ a media campaign observers said was timed to coincide with Mr Nowak’s visit.

The observers said the media reports were well-orchestrated and created in conjunction with some political non-governmental organisations that had a vested interest in painting the country in as bad a light as possible.

They also noted that this was an attempt to try and drag the United Nations into Zimbabwe’s internal politics, something that the country’s detractors have failed to do on several occasions.

A number of attempts to get Zimbabwe placed on UN Security Council sanctions have flopped in recent years.

Parties brief Sadc team on GPA progress

By Takunda Maodza

Representatives of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security yesterday met the three parties to the Global Political Agreement and were appraised on the progress made by the inclusive Government and the challenges it is facing.

The delegation — led by Mozambique’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Oldemiro Baloi with Zambian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Professor Fashion Phiri, Swazi Foreign Minister Lutho Dhlamini and Sadc Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Salamao — met officials from Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations separately.

Zanu-PF was represented by Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, Cde Nicholas Goche and Cde Patrick Chinamasa.

Mr Tendai Biti, Mr Elton Mangoma, Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro and Mr Nelson Chamisa represented the MDC-T while Professor Welshman Ncube and Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga represented the MDC.

Zanu-PF reiterated its position that the illegal sanctions imposed by the West remained the most critical outstanding issue in the GPA.

The party did say it was confident the inclusive Government would not collapse.

However, Zanu-PF said MDC-T had not called for the removal of sanctions imposed "by their friends".

"Basically, we expressed our views on the challenges we are facing and on the way forward.

"We put into perspective the fact that the bigger and substantive outstanding issues that have undermined the inclusive Government and economic recovery and threatened political stability were sanctions and the failure by the MDC-T to call for their removal," Cde Chinamasa told The Herald after the meeting.

Zanu-PF said it was disturbing that MDC-T even had faith "in asking that the sanctions be maintained".

"Our disappointment is that contrary to their obligations under the GPA, MDC-T has not called for the lifting of sanctions.

"They have not approached their friends to lift these sanctions. It is a big disappointment and runs against the spirit of the GPA," Cde Chinamasa said.

Zanu-PF said that external interference in the country’s domestic affairs, evidenced by the broadcasting of hate language against the party leadership by pirate radio stations, continued unabated.

"We also raised concern over the sponsorship by Western governments of parallel structures within the Prime Minister’s Office outside Government structures," added Cde Chinamasa.

He said MDC-T "disengagement" from the inclusive Government came as a "complete surprise".

"Announcement by the MDC-T of partial disengagement came as a complete surprise and without warning to other partners in the inclusive Government and went contrary to what was happening all along.

"I believe the way forward would be to bring any issues to the negotiating table not only now, but perpetually.

"Dialogue should continue and that is how you resolve differences not through boycotts."

Both Cde Chinamasa and Cde Goche said the "disengagement" had not been discussed in itself but within the wider context of the Troika’s brief of reviewing the GPA.

"We do not think the inclusive Government will collapse. The co-operation that we have enjoyed has brought about peace, tranquillity and political stability in our country.

"I read from the hearts of the generality of our people that they want us to continue working together because that has brought stability, enhancing prospects of economic recovery and prosperity," Cde Chinamasa said.

Cde Goche said they briefed the Troika on the achievements of the inclusive Government such as the launch of the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Plan and appointments of ambassadors.

"We have even implemented certain issues that are not in the GPA," Cde Goche said.

Mr Biti told journalists that MDC-T briefed the Troika on outstanding issues.

"We made our presentations on issues of concern — outstanding issues around the GPA. The Troika is going to consult other people and tomorrow (today) we are going to meet again.

"The fact that there are here shows that they have not ignored the crisis," he said.

Mr Biti said progress was made during the meeting, adding that he was confident the African Union and Sadc would resolve the misunderstandings.

The Troika was at the time of writing still in a meeting with delegates from Professor Arthur Mutambara’s MDC.

Prior to meeting Zanu-PF and the MDC formations, the Troika paid a courtesy call on Prof Mutambara, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and had a closed-door meeting with Sadc diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe.

Today they will pay courtesy calls on President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

They will also meet diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe among other engagements.

Dr Salamao reiterated that the Troika was in the country to review the GPA.

"Our mission is to review the GPA. Obviously, we have to take into consideration what is going on," he said.

Zim on right track: IMF

Business Reporter

THE International Monetary Fund has praised Zimbabwe for the way it is rapidly rebuilding the economy but has advised Government to budget for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as part of efforts to ensure lasting stability and confidence in the country’s financial sector.

This recommendation comes against the background of the RBZ having operated for 10 months since January this year without reserves of working capital, which would have to be provided by the Government.

In its advice to Government, the IMF is understood to have observed that the "incomprehensible" non-funding of the RBZ led to the undesirable scenario where the central bank, on some occasions, had to rely on part of statutory reserves from the commercial banks to keep the electronic payments system running, among other critical requirements.

This came as the IMF registered a vote of confidence in the economy, saying a 3 percent growth would be achieved by year-end. An IMF team that was in the country from October 14 to 26 said Zimbabwe was on the right track in its efforts to rebuild the economy.

"The economy has begun to recover in 2009, albeit from a low base. Since early 2009, the Government has broadly adhered to cash budgeting, achieved a significant improvement in budget revenue, established a multi-currency system, and largely liberalised prices and the exchange system. As a result of these improved policies, real GDP is projected to grow by about 3 percent," said head of delegation Vitaliy Kramarenko in a statement on the mission.

However, the IMF is also understood to have been critical of the delay by the Government in coming up with a new RBZ board, particularly given the hype earlier in the year about the need to resolve what were seen as "governance problems" relating to the RBZ board and its composition.

RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono yesterday confirmed that the IMF sympathised with the precarious financial status of the central bank which did not allow monetary authorities to carry out their critical function of being lender of last resort to the banking sector in order to smooth the daily payments system.

"We submitted our operational budgets to Government early this year, but for one reason or another we had to go for 10 months without funding from Treasury," said Dr Gono.

"We were indeed in full agreement with the IMF that usage of statutory reserves for central bank operations was not good at all and, this is why repeatedly we have been calling on Government to meet their statutory obligation of funding the RBZ’s operations," said Dr Gono.

He was quick to point out that plans were already underway to ensure that the portions of statutory reserves inevitably used would be funded before the end of the year, paving way for possible reduction in the statutory reserves levels to boost liquidity in the market.

A large part of this year has been characterised by a series of fights between the Minister of Finance Tendai Biti and Dr Gono, which many commentators have deplored as "unfortunate and non-productive".

The central bank has not been receiving funding from Treasury at a time when all other sources of funding to the RBZ had dried up, following Government’s move to do away with export surrender requirements.

In any economy, adequate funding for the central bank is critical in giving overall stability and confidence in the financial sector.

Asked about IMF’s stance on the usage of the US$510 million fund, the bulk of which was released in August, Dr Gono said: "All I can confirm is that they told us categorically that the longest it would take for Zimbabwe to access the money upon submission of a withdrawal request is seven working days.

"We, therefore, lost two months through internal misunderstandings among us. I am, however, pleased that all this is water under the bridge and we are forging ahead more objectively as a unified team on the IMF issues," said Dr Gono.

The IMF team, which was in the country to review progress in the implementation of the Short-Term Economic Recovery Programme (STERP) and assist in the preparation of the draft 2010 budget and the underlying macro-economic framework, held meetings with Minister Biti, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Elton Mangoma, Dr Gono, and other senior Government officials.

It also met with representatives of the financial, business, and diplomatic communities.

As part of its recommendations, the IMF underscored the need for comprehensive tax reforms in the country to boost the overall revenue performance of the fiscus.

"The key challenge going forward is to build the necessary support for policies that would ensure sustainability of the nascent economic recovery and improvements in living conditions for Zimbabweans," said Mr Kramarenko.

IMF would continue to provide policy advice and targeted technical assistance.

Sanctions retrogressive — Pakistan envoy

Herald Reporter

PAKISTAN Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Rifat Iqbal has said sanctions imposed on the country are retrogressive and should be removed with immediate effect.

In an interview after her presentation at the Joint Command and Staff Course number 22 at Zimbabwe Staff College yesterday, Mrs Iqbal said the world must respect Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.

"Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and that is a well-known fact which the world should know that it will never change.

"Sanctions are counter-productive, our country was under sanctions for a long time and through resistance and dialogue we managed to have them removed.

"I am optimistic the world will realise the importance of removing sanctions on Zimbabwe. We experienced this ourselves and sanctions are bad," she said.

She also said Pakistan would continue to assist Zimbabwe in every way possible.

"Our country is committed to promoting international peace and progress and to support international efforts to get rid of the terrorism menace.

"Importantly, the world community should take action to resolve the festering political disputes and economic deprivation," she said.

Mrs Iqbal said Pakistan attached special importance to its relations with African countries.

"Pakistan looks upon Africa as the continent of the future. We are confident about the rise of Africa.

"Relations with African countries are a priority area of our foreign policy. Our active interaction with the African continent dates back to the late 1940s, when we assisted countries of the region in their struggle for independence," she said.

Mrs Iqbal said her country was giving a new direction to its policy towards Africa, which would focus on further strengthening of relations.

Pakistan, Mrs Iqbal said, respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. She also highlighted her country’s involvement in the Kashmir dispute, which dates back to 1947.

Mrs Iqbal said Pakistan was playing a leading role in countering terrorism and extremism.

"The government of Pakistan have a comprehensive strategy to address militancy and terrorism. Our strategy is in three elements, which are political, socio-economic and military.

"We have emphasised on the need to address the root causes of terrorism and understand the factors that breed political injustices and lead to denial of freedom and fundamental rights," she said. Joint Command and Staff Course participants are drawn from the Sadc armies.

Zimbabwe Staff College as required by its curriculum invites high profile presenters from various countries to give lectures on their country’s foreign and defence policies.

Mortars Fired by Resistance Fighters at the US-backed Somali President

Wednesday, October 28, 2009
21:25 Mecca time, 18:25 GMT

Mortars fired at Somali president

Al-Shabab fired mortars at the airport last week during the president's departure

At least five people have been killed in fighting in Somalia after al-Shabab fighters fired mortars at Mogadishu's main airport as the Somali president arrived.

Witnesses said mortars were fired towards the capital's main airport on Wednesday around the time when Sharif Ahmed was landing after a trip to Yemen.

Police said the president was unharmed, but Ali Musa, the head of Mogadishu's ambulance service, said five people had been killed and 11 people were wounded in the ensuing battles.

Al-Shabab last week fired mortars at the airport as the president was boarding a plane, sparking gun battles that killed at least 24 people.

Somalia's capital sees near-daily bloodshed as anti-government fighters with suspected links to al-Qaeda try to overthrow the fragile government and push out 5,000 African Union peacekeepers.

Al-Qaeda presence

Somalia's prime minister, in the UK, on Wednesday said al-Qaeda was using Somalia to train, regroup and plan furhter attacks across the region.

"Somalia has now clearly become a haven for the pariah that is al-Qaeda," Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke said in a speech in London.

"We cannot be certain of the precise size of their presence in our country, but al-Qaeda are here, they are training and planning in our land.

"Somalia is serving as an ideal place for them to re-group and redeploy."

Al-Shabaab and allied fighters control large parts of southern and central Somalia, and Sharmarke said defeating them was important not only to his country but "to the whole world".

"Somalia does risk being taken over by al-Qaeda, just as Afghanistan was the haven of al-Qaeda in the 1990s," he told the Royal Institute of International Affairs think-tank at Chatham House in London.

Sharmarke is part of a Western-backed transitional government headed by Ahmed that took over earlier this year, but has faced a renewed campaign by al-Shabab.

"An insurgency needs chaos, discontent and poverty and we must take that away," Sharmarke said.

Source: Agencies

African Union Slaps Sanctions on Guinean Military Regime

African Union slaps sanctions on Guinea junta

Friday, 30 October 2009 02:56

ABUJA -African leaders decided Thursday to impose sanctions on military-ruled Guinea in the wake of last month's massacre of scores of opposition supporters, a statement said.

Heads of states who sit on the African Union Peace and Security Council decided to "to take all the necessary measures towards the implementation of targeted sanctions including denial of visas, travel restrictions and freezing of assets."

The sanctions will target junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara "as well as members of the government and any of the civilian or military persons whose activities are aimed at maintaining the unconstitutional status quo in Guinea," the statement said.

The move comes a month after junta troops opened fire in a Conakry stadium at a rally urging Camara not to stand in presidential elections planned for January.

At least 150 people died when troops opened fire on thousands of protesters in a Conakry stadium on September 28, the United Nations says. Human rights groups put the toll at 157 dead and more than 1,200 injured, including women who were publicly raped.

The military regime has admitted that 56 people died and 934 were wounded.

The junta seized power in the mineral-rich state on 23 December last year, just hours after the death of Guinea's longserving ruler Lansana Conte, who was an autocratic army general.

The African Union sanctions are the latest in a string of punitive measures to be taken against the junta.

On Tuesday the European Union said it was imposing an arms embargo, assets freezes and travel bans on junta leaders.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also imposed an arms embargo earlier this month.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

November 12 Protest to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal


Protest to save Mumia’s life

Civil rights investigation demanded

By Dolores Cox
Published Oct 28, 2009 4:49 PM

The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ) coalition convened an urgent meeting here on Oct. 17. Mumia supporters from Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., were in attendance. It was a fightback strategy meeting of critical importance. Mumia, who has been on death row for over 27 years, is now, more than ever, faced with having his life snuffed out by the political powers that be.

At the Oct. 17 meeting organizers said that if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the original 1982 death penalty verdict and overturns the current verdict of life without parole, then Mumia’s execution is imminent.

History of injustice

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed Mumia’s death warrant. The execution was scheduled to take place on Aug. 17, 1995, Marcus Garvey’s birthday. That execution was stayed by a national emergency protest, and Mumia’s life was saved, pending further appeals.

However, in December 2001, Mumia’s 1982 death sentence was actually overturned by the federal court and subsequently upheld by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals this past April, though it nonetheless upheld his guilty verdict. He was thus granted life in prison without parole. The prosecution then appealed that ruling, again seeking the death penalty.

In April the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review an appeal demanding a new trial for Mumia. This court’s next step will be to decide whether to reinstate the death penalty, which the Philadelphia District Attorney office is clamoring for, or to rule in favor of life in prison without parole. If the Supreme Court rules to continue with the current sentence of life without parole, the D.A. can choose to accept this decision or request a review of it and continue to pursue Mumia’s execution. Neither decision is acceptable to Mumia supporters who are continuing to fight for his release or a new, fair trial at the very least.

A case currently being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court (Smith v. Spisak) could have implications for Mumia’s fate, which now hangs in the balance. At issue is whether the judge’s instructions to the jury were confusing and faulty regarding when a verdict is arrived at and if juries are being confused as to whether mitigating factors that could lead to greater leniency require unanimity. A 1988 Supreme Court case (Mills v. Maryland) ruled the judge erred in instructing the jury and overturned the lower court’s death sentence. Both Mumia and Spisak share this issue. The question is also whether that ruling applies to states other than Maryland.

Grave situation requires response

The gravity of Mumia’s situation is compounded by other events. The current Philadelphia District Attorney has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for reinstatement of the death penalty. And the leading candidate running for the D.A. position, Seth Williams, an African American, is campaigning on the promise to sign a warrant for Mumia’s execution, with the backing of Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police.

Additionally, current Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was actively involved in Mumia’s prosecution, and has made it eminently clear that he would sign a death warrant for Mumia if the Supreme Court affirms the death sentence. Another factor is the scheduled December release of a documentary film about Mumia by Tigre Hill, also an African American, called “Barrel of the Gun,” which supports the police version of events on Dec. 9, 1981, that led to Mumia’s arrest.

The ICFFMAJ, the New York Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, and numerous other organizations and collectives in Washington, New York and Philadelphia are presently mobilizing an international demonstration in Washington on Nov. 12 at the U.S. Department of Justice. There they will be delivering the collection of signed letters to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding a civil rights investigation of the 28-year conspiracy to execute Mumia, an innocent man, for his political beliefs. Locally, Philadelphia activists will also be protesting against Seth Williams.

An urgent appeal is being made for all activists to participate in the Nov. 12 press conference and letter delivery actions in Washington. A civil rights investigation into this case could mean the difference between life and death for Mumia, and might open the door for his release from the hellhole of death row.

Massive outreach and publicity are needed. For transportation from New York City on Nov. 12, call 212-330-8029. For more information visit or call 212-330-8029, 215-476-8812, or 301-762-9162.

Join the fight against injustice and racism. We must act now before it’s too late. Free Mumia!

The writer is an International Action Center volunteer in New York.
Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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FRELIMO Expected to Win Elections in Mozambique

Mozambique ruling party expected to cement its rule

MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE Oct 29 2009 07:41

Voting ended on Wednesday in Mozambique's fourth democratic election, with the ruling party set to cement its 34-year rule over an opposition weakened by a recent split and a series of ballot-box losses.

Election officials and international observers said early reports indicated the vote had gone smoothly.

"No incidents have been reported so far," said Lucas Jose, spokesperson for the election administration authority.

The elections opened with long queues snaking around the school buildings used as polling stations, as voters waited patiently for their turn, then proudly brandished their inked fingers after casting their vote.

By the time polls closed at 4pm GMT, after 11 hours of voting, queues had grown shorter but stations remained open to serve voters who were waiting in lines by closing time, said Jose.

Initial estimates of voter turnout ranged from 30% to 35% by the European Union observer team to more than 50% by the regional Southern African Development Community.

Many at the polls expressed pride in their country's 15-year-old democracy.

"I lived under colonialism. I lived under the single-party system. I have lived through a lot of things. It was definitely worth it to bring democracy here," said 71-year-old Amelia Bila after casting her vote.

Seventeen parties and two coalitions are competing for nearly 10-million votes in polls tipped to sweep President Armando Guebuza and his Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo) back into power.

Guebuza, a millionaire businessman who is seeking a second and final term, was among the first people to vote shortly after 5am GMT.

"I call on all Mozambicans to participate on this important day for our republic and to do it in a spirit of celebration," Guebuza told reporters after voting in central Maputo.

Opposition ballots are likely to be divided between the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) and its breakaway Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM), paving the way for Frelimo to cement its rule since independence from Portugal in 1975.

The presidential race pits Guebuza against Renamo's Afonso Dhlakama, a fourth-time presidential hopeful, and MDM founder Daviz Simango.

"I have confidence in the people. In the north, south and centre people want good government," said Dhlakama after voting.

Dhlakama has alleged voter fraud in the past elections and criticised what he calls a flawed democracy.

"The one who wins the elections should be declared the winner. We do not want to have a repeat of election disputes which happen in other countries," Dhlakama told reporters.

In the parliamentary race, Frelimo seeks to defend its 160 seats in Mozambique's 250-seat Assembly of the Republic.

The emergence of the MDM has raised the possibility of a third party winning seats in Parliament for the first time since 1994, when Mozambique held its first democratic elections.

The elections were part of a peace agreement that ended a 16-year civil war between Renamo and Frelimo's Marxist-Leninist regime.

But the MDM is running in just four of Mozambique's 13 parliamentary districts, the result of a controversial decision by the national elections commission to exclude it and 13 smaller parties on the grounds of incomplete candidate registration documents.

Only Frelimo and Renamo were approved to run in every district. -- Sapa-AFP

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Obama Present When 18 US Soldiers Are Returned From the Afghanistan War of Occupation

Obama honors fallen Americans at Dover

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – Standing in the pre-dawn darkness, President Barack Obama saw the real cost of the war in Afghanistan: The Americans who return in flag-covered cases while much of the nation sleeps in peace.

In a midnight dash to this Delaware base, where U.S. forces killed overseas come home, Obama honored the return of 18 fallen Americans Thursday. All were killed this week in Afghanistan, a brutal stretch that turned October into the most deadly month for U.S. troops since the war began.

The dramatic image of Obama on the tarmac was a portrait not witnessed in years. Former President George W. Bush spent lots of time with grieving military families but never went to Dover to greet the remains coming off the cargo plane. Obama did so with the weight of knowing he may soon send more troops off to war.

For all the talk of his potential troop increase — maybe 40,000, maybe some other large figure — Obama got a grim reminder of the number that counts: one.

His name was Dale R. Griffin, an Army sergeant from Terre Haute, Ind. He was the last fallen soldier to come before Obama. And his remains were the only ones to be honored in full view of the media with the permission of his family. A ban on such coverage was lifted this year under Obama's watch.

The president led a team of officials onto the gray C-17 cargo plane carrying Griffin, and then back off, where they stood for several minutes in a line of honor.

It was not quite 4 a.m. The sky was black and a yellowish light came from poles flanking the flight. The only sounds were a whirring power unit on the plane and the clicking of cameras. A blue vehicle carrying members of Griffin's family pulled up.

The president saluted as six soldiers in camouflage and black berets carried Griffin's remains into a waiting white van.

The military calls the process a dignified transfer, not a ceremony, because there is nothing to celebrate. The cases are not labeled coffins, although they come off looking that way, enveloped in flags.

On a clear fall night, the president zipped to Dover in about 40 minutes. He immediately spoke privately in a chapel with all the family members.

The solemn process of transferring remains of 15 soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Agency agents unfolded in four separate movements. Obama took part in all of them. A chaplain offered prayers for the fallen, the crews that brought them home, the families who lost a loved one, and a nation embroiled in war.

By 4:45 a.m., the president had touched back down on the South Lawn, where even an active White House was sleepy.

He walked inside, alone.

A president of two inherited wars, Obama is winding down U.S. involvement in Iraq, but the troubled war in Afghanistan is only widening. It has become the dominant foreign policy change of his early presidency. The stability of Afghanistan remains in doubt while the support of the American people is waning.

At least 55 U.S. forces have been killed in October. That's the deadliest month of the war for U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban.

Obama is faced with a crucial moment: How to keep al-Qaida terrorists from taking root again in Afghanistan without sinking more American lives and money into a war that isn't working. He is in the midst of an intense review of his war strategy. Aides say he is weeks away from making an announcement.

The president apparently wanted to go to Dover now given the enormous blow to U.S. forces just this week.

On Monday, a U.S. military helicopter crashed returning from the scene of a firefight with suspected Taliban drug traffickers in western Afghanistan, killing 10 Americans including three DEA agents. In a separate crash, four more U.S. troops were killed when two helicopters collided over southern Afghanistan. On Tuesday, eight soldiers were killed when their personnel vehicles was struck by roadside bombs in the Afghanistan's Kandahar province.

Obama has upped the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan to 68,000 troops and is considering sending a large addition next year, but fewer than the 40,000 troops requested by his commander there, U.S. officials tell The Associated Press. He holds his next war council meeting with the Joints Chiefs of Staff on Friday.

Bush once said that he felt the appropriate way to show his respect was to meet with family members in private.

The lifting of the 18-year ban on media coverage of bodies returning to Dover was done to keep the human cost of war from being shielded from the public.

Obama saw it directly.

Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah Killed by FBI Agents in Dearborn

October 28, 2009

FBI kills leader of radical Muslims; 12 charged


The leader of a local mosque who authorities also are calling the head of an Islamic fundamentalist group was killed in a shootout with federal agents this afternoon during a series of raids that resulted in charges against a dozen men.

Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, leader of the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit, is accused in a federal complaint of heading a Sunni Muslim group with a mission of establishing a separate Islamic nation within the United States.

Abdullah, also known as Christopher Thomas, was gunned down after firing on officers as the FBI raided a Dearborn warehouse, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. An FBI canine also was fatally shot. Raids also were conducted in Detroit.

"The eleven defendants are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years and known to be armed," a joint statement from the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office said.

A 12th man was arrested late Wednesday in connection with the investigation. Three of the men charged were at large Wednesday night.

Abdullah and the others were charged with conspiracy to commit several federal felony crimes, including illegal possession and sale of firearms and theft from interstate shipments.

Abdullah spoke of attacking Super Bowl XL

Abdullah believed he and his followers were soldiers at war against the government and non-Muslims.

"Abdullah told his followers it is their duty to oppose the FBI and the government and it does not matter if they die," FBI agent Gary Leone said in an affidavit unsealed today. "He also told the group that they need to plan to do something."

Abdullah, 53, of Detroit stayed true to his word as armed FBI agents raided a Dearborn warehouse at Michigan Avenue and Miller. Authorities said he refused to surrender, opened fire and then died in a shootout in which an FBI dog also was killed.

Agents also raided two Detroit homes in the 4400 block of Tireman and the 9200 block of Genessee. The affidavits and returns for those warrants were sealed today.

The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI in Detroit unsealed a 43-page document describing a sinister, radical fundamentalist group headed by Abdullah. The document notes conversations he had with undercover agents and federal informants that ranged from talking about attacking Super Bowl XL in Detroit to blowing himself up as a final act of courage.

"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."

"The Ummah is ruled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is serving a state sentence ... for the murder of two police officers in Georgia." Brown came to prominence in the 1960s as a leader of the Black Panther Party.

"He regularly preaches antigovernment and antilaw enforcement rhetoric," Leone said of Abdullah in the affidavit. "Abdullah and his followers have trained regularly in the use of firearms and continue to train in martial arts and sword fighting."

Why Abdullah and his followers chose Detroit as their haven remains unknown, Detroit FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said today.

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.

Seven of the suspects appeared today in U.S. District Court, one was in custody and three were still being sought.

Imad Hamad, senior national adviser and regional director of the Dearborn-based Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, said he received a call from the head of the FBI's Detroit office mid-day to tell him about the raid.

Hamad said FBI Special Agent Andrew Arena told him that the case was "solely criminal" and had to do with "smuggling and fraud." He said Arena revealed few details of the investigation, but said it had been ongoing for about two years.

Hamad said he didn't know the defendants.

"Agents were trying to chase some people," Hamad said Arena told him about the raid. "They were giving instructions to lay down. He resisted. He pulled a gun. They exchanged fire, he was shot down, killed. A dog ... was dead as well."

The warehouse is near the heavily commercial intersection of Miller and Michigan.

Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Arena called him as well.

Walid said he knew Abdullah.

"I know him as respected imam in the Muslim community," Walid said.

At some point after the raids and shootout, the FBI landed a helicopter with the wounded dog at 12:25 p.m. on normally busy John R, just south of 12 Mile Road, "right in front of the hospital," Madison Heights police said.

FBI agents then carried the wounded dog into Veterinary Emergency Services at 28223 John R. There were no injuries and no traffic mishaps as a result of the unusual landing, although the police department received so many calls about the landing that Police Chief Kevin Sagan issued a written news release Wednesday explaining what happened.

Shadi Saad, the owner of Wellcare Pharmacy on Oakman in Dearborn, said he stepped outside before lunchtime to see several people in FBI jackets with guns going toward the warehouse across the street. He heard noises like shots and a short time later a helicopter descended.

"It was like a movie scene for a minute," he said. He opened his business, he said, just 10 days ago. "This isn't the way I wanted it to start."

Contact BEN SCHMITT : 313-223-4296 or Staff writers Bill Laitner, Zlati Meyer and Amber Hunt contributed to this report.

The suspects

The FBI targeted 12 people believed to be engaged in violent crimes over many years. After raids Wednesday, police still are searching for three of them.


Luqman Ameen Abdullah (a.k.a. Christopher Thomas), 53, of Detroit. Was shot and killed during the raids. He had been charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes, sale or receipt of stolen goods transported in interstate commerce, providing firearms or ammunition to a person known to be a convicted felon, possession of body armor by a person convicted of a violent felony and altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers.

In court

Mohammad Abdul Salaam (a.k.a. Gregory Stone), 45, of Detroit. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes and sale or receipt of stolen goods transported in interstate commerce.

Abdullah Beard (a.k.a. Detric Lamont Driver), 37, of Detroit. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

Abdul Saboor (a.k.a. Dwayne Edward Davis), 37, of Detroit. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

Adam Ibraheem, 38, of Detroit. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

Gary Laverne Porter (a.k.a. Mujahid LNU), 59, of Detroit. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes and possession of firearms or ammunition by a convicted felon.

Ali Abdul Raqib, 57, of Detroit. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

Mohammad Abdul Bassir (a.k.a. Franklin D. Roosevelt Williams), 50, of Ojibway Correctional Facility. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes, sale or receipt of stolen goods transported in interstate commerce, mail fraud, providing firearms or ammunition to a person known to be a convicted felon, possession of firearms or ammunition by a convicted felon and altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers.

A.C. Pusha, charged with receiving and selling stolen goods transported in interstate commerce.

At large

Mujahid Carswell (a.k.a. Mujahid Abdullah), 30, of Detroit and Ontario. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

Mohammad Alsahi (a.k.a. Mohammad Palestine), 33, of Ontario. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

Yassir Ali Khan, 30, of Ontario and Warren. Charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

Source: FBI documents

Feds: Leader of radical Islam group killed in raid

By ED WHITE, Associated Press Writer Ed White

DETROIT – Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested several members of a radical Sunni Islam group in the U.S., killing one of its leaders at a shootout in a Michigan warehouse, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Agents were trying to arrest Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, at a Dearborn warehouse 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 believes 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 shooting two police officers in Georgia in 2000, Leone said. Al-Amin, a veteran of the black power movement, started the group after he converted to Islam in prison.

"They're not taking their cues from overseas," said Jimmy Jones, a professor of world religions at Manhattanville College 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 of 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 Imam W.D. Mohammed, who recently died.

By evening, authorities still were working the scene near the Detroit-Dearborn border and the warehouse was surrounded by police tape.

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

Abdullah's mosque is in a brick duplex on a quiet, residential street in Detroit. A sign on the door in English and Arabic reads, in part, "There is no God but Allah."

Several men congregated on the porch Wednesday night and subsequently attacked a photographer from The Detroit News who was taking pictures from across the street. Ricardo Thomas had his camera equipment smashed and had a bloody lip from the attack.

Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Dearborn, said the FBI had briefed him about Wednesday's raids and told him they were the result of a two-year investigation.

"We know that this is not something to be projected as something against Muslims," Hamad said.

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

A 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, according to the agent, 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!"

In January 2009, members were evicted from a former mosque for failing to pay property taxes. An FBI search turned up empty shell casings and large holes in the concrete wall of a "shooting range," Leone said.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the federal authorities' description of Abdullah's extremist links didn't match what he knew of Abdullah.

"I knew him to be charitable," Walid said. "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."

Abdullah had a wife and children, Walid said. A phone number for the family had been disconnected.
Associated Press writers David Runk, Corey Williams, David N. Goodman and Rachel Zoll contributed to this story.

October 28, 2009

Federal authorities' news release on FBI raids

This news release was issued today by Gina Balaya of the United States Attorney's Office and Sandra Berchtold of the FBI:

11 Members/Associates of Ummah Charged with Federal Violations One Subject Fatally Shot During Arrest

United States Attorney Terrence Berg, Eastern District of Michigan, Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI), Detroit, Michigan, and Police Chief Warren Evans, Detroit Police Department (DPD), Detroit, Michigan announced a federal complaint was unsealed today charging Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a.k.a.Christopher Thomas, and 10 others with conspiracy to commit several federal crimes, including theft from interstate shipments, mail fraud to obtain the proceeds of arson, illegal possession and sale of firearms, and tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers.

The eleven defendants are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years, and known to be armed.

In light of the information that the charged individuals were believed to be armed and dangerous, special safeguards were employed by law enforcement to secure the arrests without confrontation.

During the arrests today, the suspects were ordered to surrender. At one location, four suspects surrendered and were arrested without incident. Luqman Ameen Abdullah did not surrender and fired his weapon. An exchange of gunfire followed and Abdullah was killed. An FBI canine was also killed during the exchange.

Abdullah was the leader of part of a group which calls themselves Ummah (“the brotherhood”), a group of mostly African-American converts to Islam, which seeks to establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States.

The Ummah is ruled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rapp Brown, who is serving a state sentence in USP Florence, CO, ADMAX, for the murder of two police officers in Georgia. As detailed in the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint that was unsealed today, Abdullah has espoused the use of violence against law enforcement, and has trained members of his group in use of firearms and martial arts in anticipation of some type of action against the government.

Abdullah and other members of this group were known to carry firearms and other weapons.

The 11 individuals charged include:

Luqman Abdullah (aka Christopher Thomas), age 53, of Detroit, Michigan. Abdullah is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes,

• 18 U.S.C. Sale or Receipt of Stolen Goods Transported in Interstate Commerce,

• 18 U.S.C. 922(d) Providing Firearms or Ammunition to a Person Known to be a Convicted Felon,

• 18 U.S.C. 931 Possession of Body Armor by a Person Convicted of a Violent Felony,

• 18 U.S.C. 551 altering or Removing Motor Vehicle Identification Numbers.

Mohammad Abdul Salaam (aka Gregory Stone), age 45, of Detroit, Michigan. Salaam is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes,

• 18 U.S.C. Sale or Receipt of Stolen Goods Transported in Interstate Commerce.

Abdullah Beard (aka Detric Lamont Driver), age 37, of Detroit, Michigan. Beard is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes.

Abdul Saboor (aka Dwayne Edward Davis), age 37, of Detroit, Michigan. Saboor is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes.

Mujahid Carswell (aka Mujahid Abdullah), age 30, of Detroit, Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Carswell is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes.

Adam Ibraheem, age 38, of Detroit, Michigan. Ibraheem is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes.

Gary Laverne Porter (aka Mujahid LNU), age 59 of Detroit, Michigan. Porter is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes,

• 18 U.S.C. 922(g) Possession of Firearms or Ammunition by a Convicted Felon.

Ali Abdul Raqib, age 57, of Detroit, Michigan. Raqib is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes.

Mohammad Alsahi (aka Mohammad Palestine), age 33, of Ontario, Canada. Alsahi is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes.

Yassir Ali Khan, age 30, of Ontario, Canada and Warren, Michigan. Khan is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes.

Mohammad Abdul Bassir (aka Frankin D. Roosevelt Williams, age 50 , of Ojibway Correctional Facility. Bassir is charged with:

• 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Federal Crimes,

• 18 U.S.C. Sale or Receipt of Stolen Goods Transported in Interstate Commerce,

• 18 U.S.C. 1341 Mail Fraud

• 18 U.S.C. 922(d) Providing Firearms or Ammunition to a Person Known to be a Convicted Felon,

• 18 U.S.C. 922(g) Possession of Firearms or Ammunition by a Convicted Felon.

• 18 U.S.C. 551 Altering or Removing Motor Vehicle Identification Numbers.

Additionally, two federal search warrants were executed at 4467 Tireman Avenue, Detroit Michigan, and 9278 Genessee Street, Detroit, Michigan. The affidavits for these search warrants are sealed.

This case was jointly worked by the FBI, DPD, JTTF, and the United States Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Michigan. We would like to express our appreciation to the Detroit Public Schools, Dearborn Police Department, Madison Heights Police and Fire Departments, and the members of JTTF for their assistance in this matter.

At the time of this release, Mujahid Carswell, Mohammad Alsahi and Yassir Ali Khan were still at large.

A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A trial cannot be held on felony charges in a complaint. When the investigation is completed a determination will be made whether to seek a felony indictment.

October 28, 2009

Detroit mosque leader killed in FBI raids

The Detroit News

Detroit -- The leader of a Detroit mosque who allegedly espoused violence and separatism was shot and killed Wednesday in an FBI gun battle at a Dearborn warehouse.

Luqman Ameen Abdullah, imam of the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit, was being arrested on a raft of federal charges including conspiracy, receipt of stolen goods, and firearms offenses.

Charges were also filed against 11 of Abdullah's followers. Eight were in custody Wednesday night awaiting detention hearings today; three remained at large.

A federal complaint filed Wednesday identified Abdullah, 53, also known as Christopher Thomas, as "a highly placed leader of a nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group." His black Muslim group calls itself "Ummah," or the brotherhood, and wants to establish a separate state within the United States governed by Sharia law, Interim U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg and Andrew Arena, FBI special agent in charge in Detroit, said in a joint statement.

"He regularly preaches anti-government and anti-law enforcement rhetoric," an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit. "Abdullah and his followers have trained regularly in the use of firearms, and continue to train in martial arts and sword fighting."

The Ummah is headed nationally by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is serving a state sentence for the murder of two police officers in Georgia.

Early Wednesday afternoon, FBI agents and local police from the Joint Terrorism Task Force surrounded a warehouse and trucking firm on Miller Road near Michigan Avenue where Abdullah and four of his followers were hiding, said Special Agent Sandra Berchtold, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Detroit.

When agents entered the warehouse, four of the men obeyed orders to surrender but Abdullah opened fire and was shot to death, Berchtold said. An FBI dog was also shot and killed, she said.

Through a 45-page complaint filed in the case alleges Abdullah "calls his followers to an offensive jihad" and preaches that every Muslim should "have a weapon and should not be scared to use their weapon when needed," charges in the case to not include terrorism or national security crimes.

The complaint further alleged that an armed group known as the "Sutra team" protected the mosque.

In January, when members were evicted from a building on Joy Road for non-payment of property taxes, Detroit police confiscated two firearms, about 40 knives and martial arts weapons from Abdullah's apartment, the complaint alleged.

The mosque then relocated to Clairmount in Detroit, the complaint says.

According to the complaint, Abdullah told an informant that if the FBI came to get him: "I'll just strap a bomb on and blow up everybody." On another occasion, he said: "We've got to take out the U.S. government," the complaint alleges.

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."

The others charged are:

--Mohammad Abdul Salaam, also known as Gregory Stone, 45, of Detroit with conspiracy to commit federal crimes and sale or receipt of stolen goods.

--Abdullah Beard, also known as Detric Lamont Driver, 37, of Detroit with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

--Abdul Saboor, also known as Dwayne Edward Davis, 37, of Detroit with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

--Mujahid Carswell, also known as Mujahid Abdullah, 30, of Detroit and Ontario, Canada, with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

--Adam Ibraheem, 38, of Detroit with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

--Gary Laverne Porter, 59, of Detroit with conspiracy to commit federal crimes and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.

--Ali Abdul Raqib, 57, of Detroit with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

--Mohammad Alsahi, also known as Mohammad Palestine, 33, of Ontario, Canada, with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

--Yassir Ali Khan, 30, of Ontario, Canada, and Warren, with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

--Mohammad Abdul Bassir, also known as Franklin D. Roosevelt Williams, 50, of Ojibway Correctional Facility with conspiracy to commit federal crimes, sale or receipt of stolen goods, mail fraud, supplying firearms to felons, possession of weapons by a felon, and altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers.

--A.C. Pusha, charged in a separate complaint late Wednesday with conspiracy to receive and sell stolen goods.

Salaam, Saboor, Porter, Beard, Ibraheem, Raqib, and Pusha all appeared in U.S. District Court in Detroit late Wednesday afternoon. Bassir is in state custody. Others charged are still at large.

Prior to the gunfight in Dearborn, the FBI executed search warrants at 4467 Tireman and 9278 Genesee in Detroit, officials said.

Yellow police tape was put up outside the Dearborn warehouse and a Dearborn police car was parked outside."> (313) 222-2069 David Josar, Charlie LeDuff, Oralandar Brand-Williams and George Hunter contributed.

Leader Of Islamic Group Killed In Raid

Police: Three Members Still On The Run

11:50 pm EDT October 28, 2009

DETROIT -- The Detroit leader of a nationwide fundamentalist Islamic group was fatally shot during a series of FBI raids Wednesday afternoon.

After a two-year investigation, the FBI raided three locations in Detroit and Dearborn, and arrested several people who have ties to the group called the Ummah, which translates to “the brotherhood.” Authorities said three members are still on the run.

The group’s primary mission is to establish a separate sovereign Islamic state governed by Sunni law, according to FBI charging documents. Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, called his followers to an offensive jihad, rather than a defensive jihad.

The documents also said the group was financing its version of Islam by fencing stolen goods and that Abdullah was interested in killing federal agents and making a bomb.

During the raid in Dearborn, Abdullah, aka Christopher Thomas, fired his weapon, said the FBI in a release. An FBI police dog was shot during the gunfire.

The dog was transported via helicopter to an animal hospital in Madison Heights, but despite the rescue efforts, the dog died.

The rest of the suspects were arrested at the Detroit raid on Tireman and Firwood roads and the Dearborn raid on Michigan Avenue and Miller Road without incident.

Eleven suspects were charged on Wednesday with numerous charges including mail fraud, arson, possession of body armor, theft from interstate shipments and tempering with VIN numbers.

Seven of them appeared Wednesday afternoon in a detention hearing. The rest will appear before a judge Thursday.

Before the raid, Abdullah and the 10 others were charged in a 45-page complaint with conspiracy to commit several federal crimes, including illegal possession and sale of firearms, arson, body armor and theft from interstate shipments.

Named in the complaint are Mohammad Abdul Bassir, Muhammad Abdul Salaam, Abdul Saboor, Mujahid Carswell, Abdullah Beard, Mohammad Philistine, Yassir Ali Khan, Adam Hussain Ibraheem, Garry Laverne Porter and Ali Abdul Raqib.

The group consists primarily of African-Americans who converted to Islam while serving sentences in various prisons around the county.

The nationwide leader is believed to be Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rapp Brown. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison for the murder of two police officers in Georgia.

Abdullah Al-Amin preaches violence against law enforcement officials and has trained members of the Ummah inside of a mosque located on Joy Road on how to use firearms, martial arts, sword fighting and other types of self-defense in anticipation of government violence, according to the FBI.

Undercover agents in the organization have told the FBI that Abdullah used to discipline its members starting at an early age by beating them with sticks on their hands, knees and legs and once he beat a little boy so badly that the child was unable to walk for several days.

In October of 2008, a source the FBI called “credible” recorded statements by Abdullah at a mosque during prayer where he said that Muslims need to cut ties with Christians, Jews, and Kuffars, which the FBI said means all non-Muslims.

“Obama is a Kafir. McCain is a Kafir, all the rest of them Kuffars, are Kuffars…. The worst Muslim is better than the best Kafir,” said FBI documents.

At this time, the FBI continues to seek Mujahid Carswell, Mohammad Alsahi and Yassir Ali Khan.