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US: No Criminal Violation in Imam Death

Detroit Police enter the temporary home to the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit 0n 28 Oct 2009, where Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, used to preach.

The U.S. government has concluded that no crime occurred when federal agents shot to death a Muslim cleric during a raid last year in the central U.S. state of Michigan.

The Justice Department said Wednesday that it had interviewed witnesses and examined documents in connection with the death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was shot at least 20 times. The department said it concluded that law enforcement officials acted properly and did not violate his civil rights.

Abdullah was shot by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in an exchange of gunfire during the October 2009 raid on a warehouse near Detroit, Michigan.

The Justice Department said that for there to be a criminal charge against the agents, they would have had to willfully decide "to do something the law forbids." It said the evidence "does not reveal a violation" of U.S. federal law.

Officials say that Abdullah had refused to surrender as the FBI agents sought to arrest him and other suspects on various charges, including firearms violations and trafficking in stolen goods.

The department said that one of its high-ranking officials, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, met with Abdullah's family and others interested in the case to explain the law enforcement agency's decision.

According to court documents, the 53-year-old Abdullah, who was also known as Christopher Thomas, was the imam of a Detroit mosque whose members include mainly African-American converts to Islam.

Officials say Abdullah encouraged his followers to commit violent jihad against law enforcement officials and regularly preached anti-government rhetoric.

Federal officials say the primary goal of Abdullah's group was to create a separate state within the United States ruled by Sharia, or Islamic law.