chapter  29
16 Pages

Homegrown jihadist terrorism in the United States: A new and occasional phenomenon?: Lorenzo Vidino


On 9 March 1977, a group of 12 armed men, all African-American converts to Islam who called themselves Hanafi Muslims, brought havoc to the central area of Washington, D.C. Divided in three groups, the men stormed into the city’s Islamic Center, City Council chambers, and the headquarters of B’nai B’rith, America’s oldest Jewish organization. Wielding rifl es, shotguns, and machetes, the men took about 150 people hostage.1 They were led by Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, an African-American convert who had served as secretary to Malcolm X at Harlem’s Temple #7 under the name of Ernest 2X McGhee before leaving the Nation of Islam to form his own sect, which referred to a more traditional form of Sunni Islam.2 After seizing the buildings, Khaalis issued a series of demands. First he wanted authorities to hand over to him the fi ve Nation of Islam members who had been arrested for brutally murdering several members of his family, including some infants, four years earlier. Then he demanded that authorities ban the showing of the movie Mohammad, Messenger of God, which he deemed offensive to Islam. This second request was granted and theaters nationwide stopped showing the controversial movie. The siege ended two days later, after extensive negotiations led by the Egyptian, Pakistani, and Iranian ambassadors to the United States, who read the men passages from the Quran about compassion and mercy. A security guard and a journalist were killed during the siege, and several others, including Washington mayor-to-be Marion Barry, were injured.