A standoff between a group of heavily armed men and Massachusetts police resulted in the arrest of 11 members of the group” Rise of the Moors” — an offshoot of the Moorish Science Temple of America religious sect started by Noble Drew Ali in 1913.
The 11 Rise of the Moors members were charged with eight counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, use of body armor in the commission of a crime, possession of a high capacity magazine, improper storage of firearms in a vehicle, and conspiracy to commit a crime, according to authorities.
The incident started when a trooper noticed two cars pulled over on I-95 with hazard lights on after they had run out of gas, USA Today reported.
According to authorities, the trooper noticed the men were heavily armed and asked for their drivers’ licenses and firearm permits. The men did not have either. When the trooper called for backup, some of the men ran into the woods with their firearms.
When Noble Drew Ali founded the Moorish Science Temple of America, one of the major tenets of the movement’s theology was that Black Americans were Moorish Americans and descendants of the Moabites. Moabites were a West-Semitic people who lived in the highlands east of the Dead Sea (now in west-central Jordan). They flourished in the 9th-century B.C.
Rise of the Moors leader Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey, 29, went to social media to say that the group was traveling on a “peaceful journey” from Rhode Island to Maine for “training.” He said they pulled over on I-95 north to refuel one of their vehicles, and that’s when a Massachusetts State Police trooper pulled over to offer assistance, WDME reported.
According to Steven Latimer, Abdullah Bey’s father, is son served four years as a communications specialist in the U.S. Marine Corps before transitioning to a career in computers. Latimer said that his son changed his last name when he joined Rise of the Moors.
“My son is a kind person. He doesn’t have any ill will. He’s not a terrorist,” Latimer told WCVB.
Parts of I-95 were shut down after around 2 a.m.
“We’re not anti-government. We’re not anti-police. We’re not sovereign citizens. We’re not black identity extremists,” the man continued. “We haven’t violated any laws.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation, considered the Rise of the Moors an extreme antigovernment group.
“They refuse to accept any authority. They don’t pay taxes. They don’t acknowledge U.S. laws– frequently taking over properties and claiming them as belonging to their sovereign nation,” Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, told WGME.
The Rise of the Moors is part of the Moorish sovereign citizens movement, which believe that a 1787 treaty between the U.S. and Morocco grants them immunity from U.S. law.
Some members of the group wore military-style outfits with long guns and pistols and were heading to Maine from Rhode Island for “training,” Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason told USA Today.
Police spoke with the group via a hostage negotiation team. The group didn’t surrender, however, until police tactical teams used armored vehicles to tighten the perimeter around them, USA Today reported.
Troopers recovered at least eight firearms from the group, including three AR-15 rifles, two pistols, a bolt-action rifle, a shotgun and a short barrel rifle, the state police and Middlesex County District Attorney’s office said in a joint statement.
One of the 11 arrested was a juvenile, who was expected to be released to parental custody. The other 10 were to be held on $100,000 bail. The men are expected to be arraigned today, WMTW reported.
Nobody was harmed during the tense ordeal.
“They didn’t send this many law enforcement officers and armored vehicles to the insurrection on 1/6 but, 11 BLACK men with weapons,” @1YStar1 tweeted.
“Meanwhile there is an actual terrorist rally in Florida today,” @RobertAndrakin tweeted in reference to a Donald Trump’s rally in Sarasota scheduled the same day.
“They wouldn’t have been arrested if they were white,” @tortisedoug tweeted.
Members of the Rise of the Moors claimed it they not an anti-government group. On their website, the Rhode Island-based group also denies being sovereign citizens and says historical records “show that the Moors are the organic or original sovereigns of this land – America.”
Rise of the Moors says their focus is “to perform all things relating to and appropriate to portraying the overall history of our ancestors – the Olmecs, Moabites, Canaanites, Hittites, etc.; Informing all Moors of their political status here in the Maghreb Al Aqsa (America – Morocco the most extreme west)…to encourage all Moorish Americans to believe in the capacity of each other to succeed in business, to encourage, support and provide patronage in our affairs.”
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