Recent press reports regarding the outrage at a convicted cop killer’s parole have all omitted one crucial fact about the subject Shuaib A. Raheem, a former New York State inmate. He was in fact a member of the Dar ul-Islam movement and the incident in which Police Officer Stephen Gilroy was killed was an attempted by radical Islamic members of the group to obtain weapons to fight in a holy war. That was in 1973 when little was known of the word “jihad” or the group.
Founded in the early 1960’s in a mosque in Brooklyn, Dar ul-Islam was an alliance between orthodox African American Muslim clergymen Yusef Abdul Mu’min and Yahya Abdul Karim and Middle Eastern clergyman Sheik Daoud Fasil. In 1968, Dar ul-Islam started a prison discipleship program with the goal of establishing a Sunni/Salafi mosque in each one of the state prisons.
In January 1973, four members of the movement stormed into John & Al’s Sporting Goods Store in New York City in an attempt to procure weapons for a radical Islamic uprising. The siege lasted two days before the hostages were released. During the gun battle, one NYPD officer, Stephen Gilroy was killed. All four of the members of the movement were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. At the time of the incident, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Ward described the four as members of an orthodox Muslim sect whose motive in the armed robbery was not to obtain money but weapons for jihad.
In prison, Gary Earl Robinson, 23, also known by the Muslim name Shuaib Abdul Raheem, Salih Ali Abdullah, Dawd Abdullah Ar-Rahm and Yusef Abdul, continued to preach the doctrine of the movement, which was the creation of an Islamic state separate from the United States. They were encouraged and supported by the head Imam of the New York State Department of Corrections, Warith Deen Umar and his chosen clergy. While incarcerated, they were also able to meet several Middle Eastern inmates such as El Sayyid Nosair, Rashid Baz, and Abdel Zaben who had ties to radical Islamic organizations overseas including Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 1999, Shuaib was named in an FBI report as a member of the Talem Circle in Shawangunk State Prison. This Islamic Sharia group consisted of members of the Black Liberation Army, a Pakistani inmate, and a Saudi Arabian inmate with ties to Yemen. The group’s goal was to train Muslim inmates in jihad and to coordinate the training between African American Muslim inmates and their Middle Eastern counterparts. They were aligned with the Dar ul-Islam movement.
The spiritual leader of the movement, Jamil al Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown) is himself a former New York State inmate and a leader of the Black Panther Party. H. Rap Brown’s method of choice for change was violence. He is credited with the most memorable statement of this belief when he stated “violence is as American as cherry pie.” His conversion to the more Salafist Sunnah of Islam, then know as Dar ul-Islam, or “house of Islam,” was completed in prison and he took the new name of Jamil Al Amin. Following his release in October 1976, Brown made his haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. He later settled in Atlanta and started the Community Mosque of Atlanta in the West End district of the city. His mosque was formally associated with about thirty others throughout the United States and was based on the founding principles of Dar ul-Islam in Brooklyn in the 60s.
Brown had hoped for a revival of the original movement’s Islamic fervency, but is currently serving a life sentence in the Federal Super Max Prison in Florence, CO for the shooting deaths of two policemen. Another prominent member of the group was Imam Luqman Abdullah, who was killed by FBI agents in Detroit during a shootout in October 2009.
The Ummah or Dar ul-Islam movement has a long history of violence against authority and involvement in criminal activity in the name of Allah. If Shuaib Raheem had committed the same crime today and not in 1973, it would be classified as a terrorist act. Why this was overlooked by both the Parole Board or the mainstream media should be examined.
Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General of New York State.