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10 Reasons To Care About COINTELPRO

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By now, you’ve heard about MuslimMatters’ National Day of Action to to support the COINTELPRO Full Disclosure Act (Bill HR 2998). This Friday, April 22nd, we’ll be undertaking a massive phone call and email drive during Ramadan to harness the power of thousands of American Muslim voices. Don’t miss this opportunity to advocate for this historic bill and  fill your scale of good deeds this Ramadan.

Head over to muslimmatters.org/COINTELPRO to find the handy tool that let’s you call or email your local rep in less than 5 minutes!

But why is COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence Program) so relevant today? It was active from 1956-71, but its ghosts still haunt Black Muslims, American Muslims, and Black Americans today. Still, you’re thinking: but tell me specific reasons to care about this bill. We’ve got you covered.

10 Reasons You Should Care About COINTELPRO and Bill HR 2998

  1. COINTELPRO targeted Black Muslims.
  2. The Patriot Act is based on COINTELPRO; many political prisoners today in the US are Muslim.
  3. Exposing the truth about COINTELPRO will help expose what the FBI is currently doing to disrupt Black activists today.
  4. COINTELPRO was used to disrupt the Civil Rights movement.
  5. Today, the invented “Black identity extremist” and imaginary “Muslim terrorist” are both falsely deemed national security threats. Innocent people are being surveilled and jailed.
  6. About ⅕ of Muslims in the US are black. 
  7. Black Muslim activists have asked American Muslims from all backgrounds to participate and advocate for this cause.
  8. African Americans are one of the most vulnerable groups in America due to structural racism.
  9. Islam asks us to fight against injustice.
  10.  This is a productive way to participate in social justice work for Black Americans.

A Real-World Example: Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)

To really make the case for the importance of the exposure of the full scope of COINTELPRO, we must look at a personal example of how the program disrupted and destroyed grassroots movements and individual lives. We must look no further than the example of Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown from the Student National Coordinating Committee and Black Panther Party.

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Hamzah Raza wrote an article for MuslimMatters, Potential Retrial In Sight For Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)” which provides so much detail about how the FBI I targeted mam Jamil during COINTELPRO and with other efforts afterwards that were mutations of the original Counter-Intelligence Program. Imam Jami’s story is one that connects the Civil Rights movement and the plight of black men suffering at the hands of the police today in a truly eerie manner.

Getting a Spy on the Inside

“In 1967, the FBI contacted Brown’s wife, Karima Al-Amin, in an attempt to get her to spy on her husband for the FBI and provide reports on him to them. At this point, SNCC was being targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, which aimed at surveilling, discrediting, and disrupting political organizations that fought for the rights of Black Americans. The FBI’s COINTELPRO program called for H. Rap Brown and other prominent black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr and Stokely Carmichael to be ‘neutralized.'”

H. Rap Brown Law

“This FBI campaign of neutralization caught up to H. Rap Brown. After giving a speech in Cambridge, Maryland in July of 1970, he was grazed with bullets from police while walking a young woman home. That night, fires occurred in the city. Brown would be accused of arson and inciting riots in the city. Later evidence would show that Brown had no relation to such fires, and they actually came from the inaction of the Cambridge Fire Department, which had a hostile relationship with its Black community. But the head of the Cambridge Police Department pinned the charge on Brown, accusing him of ‘a well-planned Communist attempt to overthrow the government.’

Congress would then pass the ‘H. Rap Brown’ law in his name that would make it illegal to cross state lines in order to incite a riot. Then Governor of Maryland and soon-to-be Vice President of the United States, Spiro Agnew stated that ‘I hope they pick him up soon, put him away, and throw away the key.’”

Becoming a Muslim Leader

“Following his release from prison in 1976, Al-Amin traveled to India, Pakistan, and West Africa to study Islam. He then embarked travel to Makkah for the Hajj pilgrimage before moving to Atlanta to establish a Muslim community in the impoverished and crime-ridden West End neighborhood.

In West End, the former radical firebrand reemerged as a pious, soft-spoken, and bookish Muslim scholar concerned about the spiritual and social resurrection of the neighborhood. He preached Islam to drug dealers and prostitutes in the neighborhood and sought an intense anti-drug campaign.”

FBI Fishing for a Crime

“Despite such transformation of self that led to the transformation of the West End community, Al-Amin still remained the object of government spying that went back to the COINTELPRO days. The FBI compiled a 44,000-word file on Al-Amin and his Muslim community, attempting to pin a crime upon him. Because his entire life was dedicated to praying five times a day at the mosque, developing his community, and stopping drugs and crime, the FBI could not find a single crime that Al Amin had committed.”

Imprisoned for a Crime Someone Else Confessed To

“It was this traffic stop that would lead to the arrest warrant. It was from that warrant that police officers would eventually be shot and killed by Otis Jackson, who would confess to the crime and match the description of the shooter. Despite this, it would be Imam Jamil Al-Amin who would go to jail.”

Potential Retrial: How the Black Lives Matter Movement is Making a Difference

“With new evidence not included in the trial such as the confession of Otis Jackson, and Agent Campbell’s lying about being alone and previous planting of fingerprint-less guns, Al-Amin has the potential to clear himself of such charges and establish his innocence. America too has changed drastically since Al-Amin was put on trial in 2002. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter have brought to light the injustice of programs such as COINTELPRO which targeted Al-Amin and other civil rights activists. The Trump era has also highlighted the irrationality of the brazen Islamophobia that aided Al-Amin’s guilty verdict.”

Read the full article on Imam Jamil Al-Amin for more insight into his life and how the FBI and police have been determined to remove his influence from society so many years after the Civil Rights Movement. Stay up-to-date on the status of Imam Jamil’s trial and join forces with Imam Jamil’s Action Network.

FINAL CALL TO ACTION

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY: the National Call to Action for this year’s Ramadan Activism Drive to Support the COINTELPRO Full Disclosure Act. You have been convinced to care about this bill with 10 reasons and a personal example of Imam Jamil. Getting the COINTELPRO Full Disclosure Act to pass in Congress could help free not only Imam Jamil, but other black activists who have been wrongfully imprisoned to squash their community activism.

Getting the COINTELPRO Full Disclosure Act to pass in Congress could help free not only Imam Jamil, but other black activists who have been wrongfully imprisoned to squash their community activism.Click To Tweet

Head over to muslimmatters.org/COINTELPRO to use the handy tool to contact your local representative today (if you’re in the United States). Don’t stop at individual action–become a family & friends advocate or a community spearheader.

Related reading:

Support COINTELPRO Full Disclosure Act : Ramadan Activism Drive

Action Plans For COINTELPRO Full Disclosure Act

Potential Retrial In Sight For Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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