For four years, since the mass murder of seven Hanafi Muslims at 7700 16th St. NW, the Tudor-style home purchased for the group by basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been an armed camp.
Virtually around the clock, at least one sentry armed with what appeared from the street to be a rifle, paced back and forth in front of half a dozen tall flagpoles. Neighbors waiting at the corner bus stop in front of the house yesterday reported seeing machete practice sessions on the lawn in recent weeks.
Yesterday, Abdul Azziz, the 35-year old son-in-law of Hanafi patriarch Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, emerged from the 16th Street fortress to tell reporters that "Heads will be chopped off, a killing room will be set up at B'nai B'rith and heads will be thrown out of windows," if demands were not met.
The language of violence and the brandishing and use of machetes and guns were not always the ways of the small group of Hanafi Muslims under Khaalis.
"Islam is not murdering others senselessly," he wrote in a booklet in 1972, "Look and See."
Instead, Khaalis stressed thems of nonviolence and brotherhood. America should be a country, he wrote, "not based on skin-power and gunpower."
American who are Christian, Jewish and Buddhist are first of all, Americans, he wrote. "All men are brothers," wrote the Hanafi leader.
Such pacific sentiments rang with irony yesterday as a Hanafi group led by Hamaas Abdul Khaalis himself held hostages at B'nal B'rith headquarters and at the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue NW.
If Khaalis' philosophy once promoted peace, his rhetoric toward the Black Muslim faith in which he had once believed could be dagger sharp. The ultimate expression of this view was contained in a letter he sent to the 57 temples of the Nation of Islam in December, 1972.
Khaalis' letter branded Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad "a lying deceiver," guilty of "fooling and deceiving people - robbing them of their money, and besides that dooming them to Hell."
Less than a month after the letter was sent, there was a bloodbath at the Hanafi house while Khaalis was shopping for groceries at the nearby Blair Park shopping center in Silver Spring. Seven members of the group - ranging in age from 9 days to 25 years - were murdered.
Months later, seven Philadelphia Black Muslims were indicted for the crime, one step in a series of bizarre and often frightening events.
The trial lasted 13 weeks, the longest in Washington history, and included security measures virtually unprecedented in his city. A D.C. Superior Court room was specially rebuilt to accommodate the trial. The defendants were whisked in and out of the building from unknown locations.
The fears, then, of the prosecutors, federal marshals and presiding Judge Leonard Braman were of Black Muslims who might come to the aid of the Muslims on trial. All deference and sympathy were extended to the family of Hamaas Abdul Khaalis.
At one point in the trial the Black Muslims defendants asked Braman to excuse himself because of the judge's Jemish faith. The judge refused.
The request of Braman occurred when the judge refused to declare a mistrial after Khaalis shouted at the defendants in front of the jury, "You killed my babies! You killed my babies and shot my women!
As a result of that outburst, however, Khaalis was held in contempt of court and fined $750.
The trial did not go well for the government or the Hanafis. Of six defendants during the first trial, one was acquitted outright by Braman when the government's key witness, an unindicted coconspirator, refused to testify. The witness, James Price, who had testified before a federal grand jury, was later murdered in Philadelphia's Holmesburg prison, where he was housed with other Black Muslims.
Another defendant, John Griffin, was granted a new trial by Braman after the jury had found him guilty. The retrial last October ended in a mistrial when Amina Khaalis, a survivor of the massacre and the daughter of the Hanafi leader, refused to be cross-examined.
The four convicted men and a fifth man, Ronald Harvey, who was convicted in a separate trial, were each sentenced t a minimum of 140 years for the crimes.
Braman presided over all the Hanafi trials, and it was his acquittal of one defendant, and the new trial he granted another to which Khaalis apparently referred yesterday in his criticism of "Jewish judges."
Among the Hanafi demands yesterday were that the Black Muslims responsible for the 1973 massacre be brought to the B'nai B'rith building and that the $750 contempt fine levied on Khaalis for his courtroom outburst be returned.
Two Jewish temples are among the nearest neighbors of the upper 16th Street Hanafi house. A sign saying, "Freedom for Soviet Jewry," is visable from the house.
Yesterday, Capt. Joseph W. O'Brien, the head of the homicide squad that conducted the initial investigation of the 1973 murders, was among the police to appear at the large Hanafi house.
But the D.C. police, whose 1973, investigation was massive and involved help from the FBI and other agencies, were hampered in dealing with yesterday's crises because they had destroyed their own intelligence files two years ago, because of civil liberties questions.
The files, according to police intelligence sources, had included information about the group's religions beliefs, enemies, hierarchy and structure, individuals, and fears of massive retaliation by the Hanafis.
Khaalis, 54, is a man whose spiritual experience took him out of a life as a percussionist for major bands in New York and plunged him into religious controversies that exist between orthodox Moslems and the Black Muslims of the United States.
In a 1973 interview, Khaalis said he was introduced to the Islamic religion by a Pakistani, Taslbur Uddein Rahman, while working as a musician in 1949-50.
At Rahman's urging, khaalis said, he joined the Black Muslin movement at its headquarters in Chicago for the purpose of methodically converting its followers to orthodox Islam.
He once headed the Black Muslim's private high school in Chicago and rose to the office of national secretary before breaking openly with Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad in 1958.
Black Muslims honored the late Elijah Muhammad, since succeeded by his son, Wallace Muhammad, as a prohpet of Allah. Orthodox Moslems teach that the Prophet Muhammad, who died in 632 A.D., was the last prophet of Allah.
The Hanafis are one of four schools of Islamic law within the Sunni sect of Islam. Of 700 million Moslems throughout the world, about 400 million are Sunnis. They believe that the successor to the Prophet Muhammad should be elected while the other major sect, the Shi's, believes the successor should follow blood lines.
Islamic scholars say that there are no major differences among the four Sunni schools. John Alden Williams, editor of the Washington Square Press Book, "Islam," says the Hanafi school "is characterized by its reasoned approach and logical consistency . . ."
Although the Hanafis in Washington led by Khaalis are black, there are no racial restrictions on the followers of Islam. The Black Muslims under Elijah taught strict separation from whites, but that policy has been generally reversed under Wallace Muhammad.
In the 1973 interview, Khaalis said that in the early 1960s, after his break with the Black Muslims, he had some contacts with another famous American Muslim, Malcolm X himself later left the movement in favor of orthodox Islam. He was murdered in New York in 1965.
While in New York, Khaalis has also said, he met Abdul-Jabbar, then a basketabll star for the University of California at Los Angeles and known as Lew Alcindor. Khaalis has said he contributed to Abdul-Jabbar's conversion to the Islamic faith.
Now a star center for the Los Angeles Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar not only brought the 16th Street house but has also been a benefactor of Khaalis' Hanafi group.