Twelve Hanafi Muslims were convicted yesterday of conspiracy and multiple counts of armed kidnapping. Three of them, including Hanafi leader Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, also were convicted of second-degree murder and assault with intent to kill in an emotional climax to one of the most highly publicized trials in local Washington history.
The verdicts grew out of the seizing of 149 hostages at three downtown buildings from March 9 to March 11, the killing of one person, and the wounding of several others.
A D.C. Superior Court jury of two men and 10 women, many of whom were sobbing, announced their verdicts beginning at 2.36 p.m. The 12 defendants sat silent and stony-faced as Judge Nicholas S. Nunzio detailed the findings in the heavily guarded second-floor courtroom where the trial has been in progress since May 31.
Each defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of 125 years to life imprisonment. Khaalis, 55, could receive as much as 325 years to life in prison.
Judge Nunzio set sentencing for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
"Without jurors, that Constitution of ours would be nothing more than a piece of paper," Nunzio told the jujors, who were sequestered throughout the trial. "Many of you are crying now. If you weren't crying, I'd be worried about the system. You've done one hell of a job. God bless you."
What the jury did was convict Khaalis of everything with which he was charged except felony murder in the first degree, which carries a madatory penalty of 20 years to life in prison, and one count of assault with intent to kill.
The jury convicted each of the others of the crimes that occurred at the sites where they were located. In effect, they convicted them of crimes in which they actually participated and acquitted them of crimes in which they did not participate.
Since all were convicted of conspiracy, all could have been convicted of all the crimes that were committed at each of the three buildings that were taken over. This is because of the legal principle that each member of a conspiracy can be held responsible for anything done to achieve the purpose of the conspiracy.
The jury chose not to apply this principle to the full except in the case of Khaalis, apparently because of his role as leader and moving force behind the takeovers.
U.S. Attorney Earl J. Silbert hailed the verdicts as "a message to terrorists, to those who act out of hate and bigotry, that this type of conduct will not he tolerated in the nation's capital and hopefully not in this country."
He commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark H. Tuohey III and Martin J. Linsky, the two prosecutors, for presenting "a masterful case."
Judge Nunzio told reporters that the verdict "was just, it was merciful, it was fair."
"If anything, the case demonstrates that, as guilty as you may seem, you are entitled to a trial and you are entitled to force the government to prove its case to the nth degree. That is what happened here. The system works for everyone."
With the exception of Harry T. Alexander, the former Superior Court judge retained by Khaalis to defend him, defense attorneys also expressed satisfaction with the verdicts. This is because, with the exception of Khaalis and the two defendants directly involved in the only killing in the takeovers, none of their clients was convicted of murder.
"I think we have won in a legal sense because we beat the homicide," said John Treanor, the court-appointed councel for Abdul Raazaaq, 23, also known as Nelson Mcqueen Jr. and as Norman Lee. Treanor was a leading strategist of the defense.
Alexander declined to comment on the verdicts except to say that he would be filing motions, which he did not specify.
As it became clear that not all the Hanafis would be convicted of murder. Charles Stow, the attorney appointed to defend Abdul Hamid, 22, also known as Hilvan Judge Finch, bowed his head on his arms and wept.
Judge Nunzio had high praise for both the defense and the prosecution. Before dismissing them from the courtroom, he told the defense attorneys.
"I suggest that you have risen to the occasion," he said. "In the face of nothing you made a case. You are to be commanded."
He thereupon vacated citations for contempt of court against three of the attorneys who had been disciplined during the trial.
The three were Alexander Dennis M. O'Keeie, who represented Abdul Rahim, 26, also known as Phillip Young, and Grandison E. Hill, who represented Abdul Muzikir, 22, also known as Marquette Anthony Hall.
The kidnappings occurred at t he interenational headquarters of B'nai B'rith, the Jewish service organization, at 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW. at the Islamic Centre at 2551 Massachusetts Ave. NW along "Embassy Row," and at the District Building at 14th and E Streets NW.
The purpose of the kidnappings, the government said, was to obtain hostages. The hostages were to be held until the government agreed to Hanafi demands to turn over to them for purposes of revenge five Black Muslims convicted of murdering seven members of Khaalis' family in 1973.
The murders occurred at the Hanafi headquarteres at 7700 16th St. NW. Police put a heavy guard on the residence yesterday because of the verdicts. There were no reported incidents.
A second purpose of the hostage taking according to the government, was to stop the showing in this try of the film "Mohammad, Messenger of God" on the grounds that the Hanafis regarded it as sacrilegious.
Although the government did not charge it, a third purpose emerged in testimony from numerous kidnap victims.This was that $750 be returned to Khaalis, who thought he had been fined that amount by Superior Court Judge Leonard Braman for a courtroom outburst during one of the trials arising from the massacre of his family.
In fact, Braman did not levy a fine against Khaalis. The money had been paid by Khaalis for attorney's fees. Officials gave $750 to Khaalis during the sieges in an effort to obtain the release of the hostages.
It did not happen. The sieges did not end until the early hours of March 11 after negotiations in which the ambassadors of Egypt. Iran and Pakistan took part. The ambassadors volunteered their services because of their knowledge of the Islamic faith, to which the Hanafis subscribe.
When agreement was reached, the Hanafis at each of the three locations laid down their arms and walked out with their hands up. Behind them they left scenes of terror and chaos.
The injured were numerous. Among them were Wesley A. Hymes, stabbed and shot at the B'nai B'rith building, and Alton A. Kirkland, stabbed and slashed at the same location.
The assault on Kirkland led to an individual charge against Abdul Adam, 31, also known as George W. Smith. The jury convicted him of it.
The worst violence occurred at the District Building. Maurice Williams, 24, a reporter for radio station WHUR, was cut down there by a shotgun blast of double-O buckshot.
The same blast wounded Mack M. Centrell, a building guard, and D.C. City Council member Marion S. Barry Jr. Robert J. Pierce, 52, a Council aide, was wounded by another shotgun blast.
Pierce was shot in the back as he lay on the floor of the City Council office where he was being held with his hands tied behind his back. His injuries have paralyzed him from waist down.
The two Hanafis who were at the District Building were Abdul Muzikir and Abdul Nuh, 28, also known as Mark E. Gibson. According to testimony in the trial, Muzikir was the trigger-man in all of the shootings at the District Building.
Muzikir and Nuh were convicted of murder in the second degree together with Khaalis. Second-degree murder is murder committed "with malice" but without forethough. It is the lack of forethought that distinguishes it from first degree murder. It is punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Muzikir, Nuh and Khaalis aslo were convicted of assault with intent to kill on Cantrell and on Pierce.
The jury did not convict any of the defendants of the charge of assault with intent to kill City Council member Barry, although the evidence was clear that he was struck with the same blast that killed Williams and wounded Cantrell.
There was no explanation for this. Judge Nunzio put the names, addresses and other information about the jurors under seal in order to protect them from possible reprisals. So the jurors were not available for comment.
The government charged each defendant with 24 counts of armed kidnaping which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years to life in prison. Eight counts were charged from each of the three buildings taken.
With the exception of Khaalis, the jury chose of convict each defendant of the eight counts of kidnaping that arose from the site where each defendant was located.
One of the high points of the trial was the testimony of Khaalis himself.
He was the only witness for the defense. His attorney, Alexander had planned to call several witnesses in an effort to show that Khaalis' intentions had been peaceful and based on religious grounds. Since the law does not permit this kind of testimony at a defense to a crime, Judge Nunzio did not permit him to call them.
So Alexander called Khaalis. Khaalis testified that he and the other Hanafis were merely following the will of Allah in carrying out the takeovers.
"Allah was the plan." Khaalis testified. "Allah directs everything. Allah directs the world."
Asked by prosecutor Linsky if Allah had directed him to take over the B'Nai B'rith headquarters. Khaalis replied: "It is Allah who lets you speak now. Yes."
His testimony was heavily studied with references to what he described as a "Zionist-jewish conspiracy" to take over the United States and the world. He said the "Zionist-Jews" dominated the Black Muslims in this country as well as other things.
At the time, defense attorneys decided that his testimony was at least neutral on the crucial question of the conspiracy. Since it was the conspiracy theory that allowed the government to charge all 12 defendants with murder in the death of Maurice Williams, it was at the conspiracy charge that the defense directed almost its entire effort.
So great was the government's evidence that most of the defense attorneys virtually conceded the armed kidnaping charges against their clients.
As it turned out, the jury convicted of conspiracy. The defense could take satisfaction in the fact that, with the exception of Khaalis, Muzikir and Nuh, none of their clients was convicted of murder.
The defendants at the B'nai B'rith headquarters were Khaalist: Abdul Adam: Abdul Latif, also known as Carl E. Roper: Abdul Shaheed, also known as Marvin Sadler: Abdul Hamid: Abdul Razzaa and Abdul Salaam also known as Clarence White.
At the Islamic Center they were Abdul Rhaman, also known as Clyde Young: Abdul Rahim, also known as Phillip Young: and Abdul Al Qawee, also known as Samuel Young. The three are brothers
Muzikir and Nuh were at the District Building.
During the trial, William C. Ferguson, a hostage at the B'nai B'rith building testified about a conversation he had with Abdul Salaam. He recalled that it went this way:
"Are you a hero?" Salaam asked.
"No." said Ferguson.
Salaam asked Ferguson if he had a family.
"Yes." said Ferguson.
"Do you want to go home to your family?"
"Yes. I hope we'll all be able to go home to our families."
"I'll never be able to go home to my family," Salaam replied.