Ex-Panther has a new cause, FBI says
BY JOHN WISELY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Oct. 30, 2009
In the 1960s, he was known as H. Rap Brown, a member of the Black
Panther Party who famously said violence "is as American as cherry pie."
In the 1970s, he served time on an armed robbery conviction in New
York, converted to Islam and changed his name to Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.
In 2002, he was convicted of murdering a sheriff's deputy in Fulton
County, Ga., and sentenced to life in prison. A second deputy also
was shot but lived to testify against Al-Amin. Before trial, Al-Amin
told the New York Times that he was the victim of a government conspiracy.
Federal agents said in court filings in Detroit this week that a
local imam was part of a network seeking to create a Sharia-law
governed nation in the United States to be ruled by Al-Amin.
So who is Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin?
He got his start under the name H. Rap Brown in the 1960s registering
black voters in Alabama and working with the Student Nonviolent
"For a time, he was fairly well-known," said Fabio Rojas, an
associate professor at Indiana University who wrote a book on black
radicalism called "From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical
Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline." "He wasn't a leader,
but he hung around a lot of famous people like Stokely Carmichael."
Carmichael was the activist credited with coining the phrase "Black
Power." Self-described radical lawyer William Kunstler represented
Brown in a 1960s case when he was accused of advocating burning a
In his autobiography, first published in 1969, Brown wrote that
blacks were enslaved by a white capitalistic system.
"Revolution is indeed inevitable, and, as the cycle of change closes
around America's racist environment, the issue of color becomes more
pertinent," he wrote in a work that includes a racial slur in its
title. He said in the book that rap was a term for trash talking in
"That's why they called me rap, because I could rap," he wrote.
When the book was rereleased in 2002, its back cover called it "a
call to arms, an urgent message to the black community to be the
vanguard force in the struggle for oppressed people."
Though serving a sentence from Georgia state courts, he was
transferred in 2007 to the Florence Federal Correctional Complex in
Florence, Colo. The facility houses the nation's most dangerous convicts.
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