FBI agents who raided a Michigan warehouse last year didn’t violate federal civil rights laws when they fatally shot and restrained a Muslim cleric, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
After completing its own investigation, the department’s civil rights division said no further criminal investigation of the four FBI agents who shot Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah or of the other agents in the raid is warranted.
Four agents shot Abdullah 20 times as they tried to arrest him during a raid at a Dearborn, Mich., warehouse on Oct. 28, 2009.
Abdullah, who led a Detroit mosque, was being sought as part of an ongoing stolen-goods sting operation.
Federal authorities have described Abdullah as the leader of a radical Sunni group that aims to create an Islamic state within the U.S. Authorities say Abdullah preached hate for the government and encouraged followers to commit violence, especially against police and federal agents.
According to court records, Abdullah had even warned that “it will be straight-up war” if the government engaged with him.
Abdullah’s family has denied that he was a radical cleric.
The agents were previously cleared by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, and a 300-page report from the Dearborn Police Department backed up that decision.
“I’m glad it’s over,” said Andrew Arena, head of the FBI in Detroit. While some people may continue to believe there was excessive force, he said, “there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Abdullah fired at least three shots at agents as they tried to arrest him and four others, according to the Justice Department’s 17-page report. The other men were unharmed.
The report concludes that “the evidence indicates that each of the FBI agents who fired his weapon had a legitimate reason to believe that deadly force was necessary and reasonable in order to prevent Imam Abdullah from shooting agents with a handgun that he brandished and fired.”
The report also concluded it was not unreasonable for other agents to release a dog to help subdue Abdullah as he resisted. And it said that the agents who handcuffed and searched him once he was subdued neither injured him nor used unreasonable force.
“The evidence indicates that neither the FBI agent shooters, nor any other agents, willfully intended to use more force than necessary to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose,” the report concluded.
The assistant attorney general for civil rights, Thomas E. Perez, met with Abdullah’s family in Detroit on Wednesday and later with representatives of interested local groups to explain the department’s findings.
Officials with the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Abdullah’s widow, Amina Abdullah, did not immediately respond to telephone messages seeking comment.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)