"You fight to the death if you have to."
Hamaas Abdul Khaalis spoke those words at 6:02 p.m. on March 10, 1977, in a telephone conversation with Abdul Nuh, 28, also known as Mark E. Gibson.
Khaalis was on the eighth floor of the international headquarters of B'nai B'rith, the Jewish service organization at 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Nuh was in the outer office of City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker at the District Building at 14th and E Streets NW.
"Yes. Hamaas," Nuh said.
Sgt. Gabriel A. Brandani of the District police force clicked off the machine on which a tape of that conversation was plaued for a D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Tuohey III rose to his feet.
"That concludes the presentation of the evidence, your honor," he said to Judge Nicholas S. Nunzio.
The evidence is that by which the government hopes to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Khaalis, 55, and 11 other Hanafi Muslims, including Nuh, committed murder, armed kidnaping and assault with intent to kill in the taking of 149 hostages at B'nai B'rith headquarters, the District Building and the islamic Center at 2551 Massachusetts Ave.NW, from March 9 to March 11. Khaalis, the alleged leadera, and his codefendants are accused of doing these crimes as part of a conspiracy to compel officials to hand over to them five Black Muslims convicted of murdering seven members of Khaalis's family in their home at 7700 16th St. NW in January, 1973.
A conspiracy ia an agreement to do an illegal act. In the Hanafi case, the illegal act was the taking of the hostages to gain custody of the convicts for purposes of revenge.
Prosecutors played the tape of the conversation between Khaalis and Nuh, as well as several other tapes, in an effort to show that Khaalis was in control of the Hanafis at the District Building and the Islamic Center, as well as those at B'nai B'rith headquarters.
The defense, whichis shceduled to open its case Monday, is expected to contend that those who took the District Building - there were only two f them - acted alone and that Khaalis later "coopted" them into his alleged plot as a sort of "bonus" for his cause.
This point is crucial to some of the defense attorneys - their clients are not cooperating with them - because it was only at the District Building that a killing occurred. The defense theory is that if the District Building was not part of the conspiracy, then those Hanafis who were not at the District Building should be acquitted of the murder charges.
Love unknown is what, if anything, Khaalis might say. Harry T. Alexander, a former Superior Court judge who is defending Khaalis, said yesterday that he did not know whether his client would take the witness stand.
But it is widely believed among court officials that he will. It is understood that the other 11 defense attorneys in the case will then cross examine him with vigor. They have this right because technically each of the defendents is receiving a separate trial. Anything that one defendant says that might tend to convict another - such as claiming that all were conspirator's - is subject to cross examination.
These attorneys theorize that Abdul Nuh and Abdul Muzikir, 22, also know as Marquette Anthony Hall, the other Hanafi accused of direct involvement at the District Building went there only after hearing news of the events at the other locations.
It was only moments after Muzikir and Nuh arrived at the District Building that Maurice Williams, a 24-year-old radio reporter was cut down there by a shotgun blast of double-O buckshot.
The same blast woulded City Council Marion S. Barry Jr. and Mack W. Cantrell, a building guard Robert J. Pierce, a Council aide was peralyzed from the waist down by another shotgun blast.
Abdul Muzikir allegedly fired the shots that caused the death and all the woundings.
It is understood that the defense is not seriously fighting the armed kidnaping charges because of the weight of the government's evidence. Armed kidnaping carries a maximum penalty of 15 years to life imprisonment.
By the time the prosecutors concluded yesterday, they had called 104 witnesses and brought on 307 exhibits of which 293 were admitted into evidence. The physical evidence includes at least 24 firearms and about 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Other weapons include a cross-bow and throwing stars - objects with knikfe-like projections designed to pierce whomever they strike.
But it was add to its conspiracy evidence that the prosecutors played the tapes of court-authorized taps of telephone conversations made during the sieges.
In a conversation with a reporter. Khaalis was heard saying. "We have men underground. We have men on top waiting . . . You said the District Building was not related? . . . You take my word . . . We had bad men waiting."
In a conversation with another reporter, he denied that he wanted the Black Muslims convicted of murdering members of his family because he wanted "personal revenge."
"No, no, it's in defense of the faith. Allah grants you what they did to you. There is no justice without the sword." he said.
There also was a recording of a conversation between Khaalis and his wife, Khadyja.
"They don't know how they got into the District Building and Brother Nuh looked sneaky," Mrs. Khaalis said.
"Well, you know they say Brother Nuh is sneaky," Khaalis was heard to reply.
It was only the first time since the trial began May 31 that all the defendants were seen to smile at once.