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Deadly FBI raid in Dearborn prompts concern over informants watch

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    He called himself Jabril. Two years ago, a white man who claimed he was an ex-con and convert to Islam started attending a predominantly African-American mosque on a run-down street in Detroit.

    He touted his Islamic ways while offering poor members of the mosque cash for odd jobs at an auto shop on the city's west side. He told tales of sick family members and brought a young boy to the mosque who he said was his son.

    Jabril soon became a brother in faith and a confidante of the mosque's fiery leader, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed in a shootout during an Oct. 28 raid by FBI agents to arrest men suspected of dealing in stolen goods.

    Members now believe Jabril was an FBI informant who infiltrated their mosque.

    "He built up trust in the community," said Omar Regan, 34, one of Abdullah's sons.

    The case -- one of several in the past year involving informants in Muslim-American communities -- has prompted growing concern among Muslims and civil rights advocates about undercover surveillance in religious institutions.

    Federal officials say they don't send informants into congregations without reason. But last week, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat, called upon the U.S. Justice Department to review its policies on using informants in houses of worship.

    Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are seeking a protective order to shield the identities of three informants used in the case.

    With tattoos on his neck and a full beard, the newcomer arrived at the Detroit mosque in 2007 with stories of turning to Islam while in prison.
    "He had this hard-life story," recalled Regan, a son of the mosque's imam, Luqman Ameen Abdullah.

    For two years, the man known as Jabril to many at Masjid Al-Haqq ingratiated himself with members of the mosque, according to Abdullah's followers. They accepted him as a brother in Islam.

    On Oct. 28, Regan said Jabril asked mosque members to help him move some goods in a Dearborn warehouse. Authorities said the men were there to deal in stolen items.

    Once inside the warehouse, Jabril reportedly told the mosque members: "I'm going to go get some water, a drink of water," Regan said in an interview with the Free Press.

    Jabril then disappeared.

    Moments later, federal agents stormed inside. Abdullah, 53, was shot dead by FBI agents after an exchange of fire during the raid.

    Jabril was never seen again by members of the mosque.

    The story of Jabril's alleged infiltration offers a rare look into the use of FBI informants in Muslim-American communities in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Members of the Detroit mosque say they believe Jabril was a key undercover informant in helping the FBI build a case against Abdullah and his followers.

    Muslim advocates say there's a growing problem of improper use of informants, particularly in houses of worship. Some accuse the informant of luring Abdullah to his death in the fatal shooting, which has raised questions about excessive force.


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