tv QA Author Shahan Mufti on the 1977 Siege of Washington DC CSPAN February 17, 2023 7:00pm-8:02pm EST
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>> in the news tonight, i'm mafia muslims are holding more than 100 hostages in washington people -- washington, d.c.. a muslim religious center and washington city hall. radio news man was killed in the city hall takeover and at least 11 persons were injured. the invaders demanded and got cancellations of the premier of a new movie about the islamic prophet muhammad. later in the newscast we hope to bring you updated reports as they develop in washington. susan: you have just written a book about the siege in washington, american caliph, march 1977. what interested you in this story? shahan: it was all interesting when i found it. i did not know about this.
like a lot of people i found, did not know about this. i and counter the story in 2015 and this was right after the shooting at the magazine offices in paris. if you remember, them french magazine had published some cartoons that people found to be offensive. it led to -- actually, they were attacked several times. in 2015 two men entered the editors meeting and massacred a bunch of the editorial staff, almost half. that was a big moment for me. i worked as a journalist. i worked for magazines. i worked for daily news. i was shaken by that and by this time i was working as a daily news reporter, professor of
journalism and i talked with students. i decided to write a piece at that time about this idea of the prophet muhammad, just stirring something repeatedly, it is like a recurring theme that the prophet mohammed stirs these great events. it was during that research i came across this paragraph, it was an academic study about this time the 12 gunmen in washington dc held 150 hostages and the city for two days. i was surprised. i consider myself educated in this world, covered war conflicts, i was surprised i did not know about it. the moment i read about it i was correct, the journalist in me wanted to find out what had happened and more importantly, why it happened, it became a
really important question. susan: the news report was the end of day one, so in the end, more casualties? shahan: this was the third hataken which was the districtrs building notch the john wilson building in washington dc. that had happened in the opening moments of that. there was a big gun fights in the district building's, several people shots. the radio reporter died immediately. for the next two days this hostage situation, goes on. but nobody died in those two days. as i researched the book i did find people who died in the days, weeks, months after and i can type those to the ovens that happened between march 9 and
march 11. so they would count as fatalities from that as well, but really, in the record it is really that went radio reporter who is considered a casualty. susan: we have a clip from this year, 45th anniversary of this event, our local television station retrospect, someone who was a colleague. how old was he? shahan: 24. susan: 24 years old. well-known. let's let him tell the story of that day. >> as we were leaving the press office, he said can i come? we were like no, these are for the big boys. you have to get a little although before you can go to lunch with us. on man, this is always happening to me. no more than an hour later, he saw the commotion at the building and raced back to wh you are where the phone was already ringing -- raced back to
whur. people have taken over the fifth floor, there was a shooting and i saw him lying in the hallway outside the press room. he said he is lying there, and there are bullet holes in his sweater but he is not moving. >> maurice had just stepped out of the elevator with marion barry when he was shocked. >> even today, the horror of it all, still causes me feelings of pain and anxiety. when i look back on it, the smallest things in life can make the biggest difference is in life. had he just come to lunch with us, none of this would have probably happened. susan: what is your reaction? shahan: i interviewed over 100 people for this book and he was one of the people who is very intimately connected to the tragedy.
there are so many people whose lives were touched by this. close to 150 hostages first of all, those people. i spoke to many of them. a lot of them live with this trauma. it was a lot more severe for a lot of them, many of them were physically hurt. but, just the scars of this stayed with people a lot and to the journalist, when i spoke to him listening to him here, for generalists, this was especially painful. the one person who died during those two days was a young radio reporter who is a really promising young man, and had been working at the radio station, howard university radio station only for a few years. really promising from what i had read about him. there was a lot of introspection by journalist as well because
journalism became -- the role of journalists in these two days and the way they got caught up in the whole situation, and tell the hostage takers, used the news media to kind of further their cause and their demand. max robinson was another one who got really and tangled in the situation, another prominent d.c. journalist at the time. so there is a lot of -- journalist had a lot to think about during and in the aftermath of the siege. susan: for people who were not involved, one thing they remember was marion barry getting shot. who is marion barry? shahan: marion barry was a young -- an upcoming district councilman. it was a new entity at that time. it had come out of the 1970's. marion barry was a transplant to the district but he was a rising
star. he was a councilperson at this time but he definitely had his eyes on the chair of the council , sterling tucker was the chair at that time. and a lot of people talked about how he had his eyes on the mayor role. the mayor at that time was walter washington. marion barry just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. he was getting off the elevator on the fifth floor of the district building when he had gone up the elevator with a security guard because there was also already some kind of trouble brewing they had learned over the radio. but he stepped out of the elevator and was a blast from shotgun that had been fired by one of the hostage takers. it hit him in at the left side of his chest and he fell to the floor. the same blast that took out the radio reporter, marise williams.
marion barry fell to the floor immediately, bleeding from his chest. there were three people actually on the floor at that moment. bleeding. one was a security card -- security guard, at the other end of the hallway was marion barry. he was the only one that moved. and he was able to crawl into the council chambers and that is where he was evacuated. later that same day, he did manage to make a press appearance on his hospital bed in the front page of the washington post the next morning was a picture from the siege that had happened or that was happening, it was ongoing and one of them was marion barry and the left side of his chest exposed and a bandage, talking to the press. a lot of people i spoke to told
me that that is when he launched his mayor campaign. that is when he decided this was a moment that all eyes are going to be on him and in that moment he decided he was going to run for mayor and he did. susan: all of the descriptions of your book called the story complex and it is a complex story. let's go to the centerpiece. the lead hostage taker, someone by the name of how my folk -- hamas police. -- hamaas khaalis. shahan: during this time, all of the action that is happening and i try to re-create that, my book is also about the sequence of events that led up to this and that was an important part of this story. i did not want to create a tiktok of what had happened, i
wanted to understand why this all occurred and that was a story iry to make not too complex. hamas of do collies -- hamaas khaalis lead this group to take over the three buildings. susan: how old was he? shahan: 54 at that time. he was born in gary, indiana and my book begins with his time in the u.s. army. he was in a vase in arizona getting a psychiatric evaluation. -- end of base -- in a base in arizona getting a psychiatric valuation. he does leave the army and become a pretty successful jazz musician. he moves to harlan and gets
there just as bebop is developing and he finds pretty good success. he tours in europe with a jazz band. but in that harlan just seen is where he also finds islam. the black nationalist movement that was headquartered in chicago but had built temples, he ends up at one of those temples and becomes a disciple of the leader of the nation of islam elisha mohammed and rises through the ranks of that organization quickly. in the meantime he got a bachelor's degree from city college, attended jewett courses, so -- attended graduate courses. but he then breaks away and creates his own group. susan: i want to go back to the discharge from the army because
you said this mental capacity question dogs him throughout his life. whether or not he was playing for system at the time. never really reconciled as to what the truth was. shahan: yes, and this was an important question for negotiators when they were negotiating the siege. they wanted to desperately find out if they were dealing with somebody who is irrational. and who was all there, and who could be expected to behave in a certain pattern of behavior. he was an exceptionally charismatic and the word manipulative was used by some of the people who had interacted with him. he was a charismatic leader, he also knew how to manipulate people and bring them around to his cause whatever that may have been. and then he was in later decades
he ended up in another psychiatric facility. every time he was in trouble with the law is when his psychiatric faculties what arise and he avoided federal charges based on this, he avoided getting deployed to europe during the second world war based on this. and being mentally unwell, if he was, always kind of -- i always had to balance that against his real ability to manipulate situations and his genius at it and also his charm at being able to get people to give him what he wanted. it was a question that lingers and by the end of his life, it was a question that was kind of lost. he ended up in the system and people no longer really even had those records and at the end of
his life he had a lot of psychiatric evaluations, but at the end of his life nobody thought he was in any way unwell. susan: another theme is patriotism. shahan: yes. he was born in the midwest, gary indiana. he served in the u.s. army. he enlisted before the draft and the second world war but then he had a period of dissolution with america when he joined the nation of islam. their creed was one that really casts america as a nation and not a positive light at all. but when he got out of that organization, he really under the -- of his new master, he really embraced this idea of
america as the perfect place. america as the land that really will deliver. but also in his religious imagination. that america was the perfect place for islam and for his new religious cause. that is something he really held onto, and that is something that got him into trouble with the nation of islam. until the end of his life even after all this had happened, he ended up back incarcerated and all, he really stood by this idea that everything he was doing was to serve america. even the events of march 1977, even the hostage taking, was his desire and attempt to get
america a chance and to protect america almost. in his mind this all worked out. he truly did believe that. susan: so his break with the nation of islam and is critical to the ultimate events. why did he break with them? shahan: he broke with them -- from the records i was able to obtain, -- the fbi had kept track of police -- kept track of khaalis soon after he joined the nation of islam the fbi started tracking him closely. the fbi had a lot of records, thousands of pages of records on him. so the sequence of events that led him to break away from the nation of islam -- she went to chicago to the headquarters and was working directly under elisha mohammed. in some ways he was almost --
along with malcolm x, elisha mohammed's right hand. he was the national secretary of the organization, but handling elisha mohammed's personal business, travel. he broke away in a courtroom setting in the nation of islam temple where elisha mohammed ruled against one of the members. khaalis thought it was an unfair ruling and decided to pick a fight with the leader of that organization and he was ejected quickly. he had already been butting heads with a lot of people in that organization. he was a large personality and he coveted that and desired that leadership role in the organization but that was a very tight group of people at the top of that organization. a lot of people had identified him as trouble in that
organization. khaalis was an outsider and he took that ejection personally. when he found his new spiritual master who showed him the ways of more traditional islam, he very quickly -- he always positioned himself in opposition to the nation of islam. his new religious beliefs were always a way to attack almost the nation of islam. susan: tell me about the bengali was on who became his next mentor and what was that appeal to khaalis about him? shahan: actually, i found this was actually a pretty driving community.
muslims from the bengal regents of british india. -- region of british india. a lot of these people were coming on british vessels and were see men traveling across the world and a lot of them ended up in a u.s. sports, especially new york. a lot of them jumped ship. and they developed a really driving community in harlingen during the 1940's and 1950's. khaalis's spiritual leader was from that community and he practice, he was a faith healer, he also worked as a cook at a restaurant, -- a very mysterious
and mystic person. i was able to get his immigration file and able to find out a lot about him through that. i was able to track down some of his relatives and descendants who are in the u.s. now. he is really -- mutually beneficial encounter when k haalis found this man. he was telling him the nation of islam, the largest most important organization in the u.s. at that time which khaalis had broken away from. he found a really young, charismatic young man who had been at the top of the nation of islam and was ready to help him bring his message to more people.
so these two men partnered in the late 1950's and through the 1960's until he died. and they developed this organization together. susan: was the goal challenging the nation of islam? shahan: a lot of their plans were built around dethroning elisha mohammed and taking leadership of american islam and that is part of the reason why the title of the book is american caliph, this is not the only thing going on for the leadership of america -- of islamic america. susan: khaalis develops his own set and start recruiting members. kareem abdul jabbar. how do they associate and what did he do within that? shahan: that is the name that khaalis gave 2 -- who was with the milwaukee buccs.
when they met he was still at ucla. it was a very exciting prospect. khaalis and cream abdul-jabbar's father -- kareem abdul jabbar's father knew each other. after khaalis master had died, khaalis was adrift for a while. at this time, elisha mohammed was really rising with one of his proteges, the boxing champion muhammad ali. once again, it happened and almost in opposition to that whole the namic happening in -- the whole dynamic happening in the nation of islam. he spotted him on tv wearing appended during an interview.
-- wearing a pendant during an interview. he called kareem abdul jabbar's father who who did not know about police pam's -- police them --khaalis'plans. they quaked -- they clicked quickly. he just ground himself and khaalis teachings. susan: is it safe to say that khaalis could not have done what he did to build to build this group without kareem abdul jabbar's backing? shahan: he was instrumental in developing the junta fee
organization -- hanafi organization. soon after they meet they sign a really lucrative -- kareem abdul jabbar signs a lucrative contract. he was taken by the islamic message and was a true believer. he found it to be a good balance to the more militant attitude of the nation of islam. he found khaalis teachings to be patriotic and reasonable. a lot of them were based in love for all humanity regardless of race. and kareem like to those ideas. he decided that he would april of operation basically. -- bankroll the operation basically.
they moved the headquarters of the organization from harlem to washington dc d they found a beautiful house on 16th street here iwashington dc, five miles up the street from the white house and the shepherd park neighborhood. it was a very nice mixed neighborhood at that time. a lot of howard university folks, and journalists, a lot of well-to-do black and white people and they established the junta fee headquarters -- hanafi headquarters there. and members of the hannah fee community still live there. -- hanafi community still live there. the heart of american power in some ways, that is when his organization really takes off and that is where he begins really challenging the authority of the nation of islam and is able to put up a fight for the
supremacy of american islam. susan: january 18, 1973 the competition between the nation of islam and khaalis group he comes up blood feud. what a difficult chapter to read in your book. what happened? shahan: and a difficult chapter to write. i put that chapter off for a long time. it was a horrific crime. at the time, the morning after it was called the bloodiest mastic year -- massacre. when khaalis'challenge became intense enough, members decided it was time to eliminate him essentially. a group of hitmen, assassins, invaded the headquarters that kareem abdul jabbar had purchased work the organization. one afternoon they entered and
went on a rampage and massacred seven people, shot a lot more, and the evening did up with seven dead bodies at the headquarters. they range from a man in his 30's who was not related to khaalis but all other people, six others, were related to khaalis. including a nine day old child that khaalis had just had with his second wife and several other children and grandchildren. khaalis himself was not at home that day. susan: he was their target go? shahan: he was. after they massacred all these people, they stayed around, with the blood stained and bloodstained walls. they world shots. some of them drowned in bathtubs. they sat there for a while until
khaalis showed up to that house. and khaalis was able to escape and the gunmen ran out and he then entered his house. this is january 1973 and went from room to room screaming in horror as he encountered bodies of his children and grandchildren. that was really the moment that khaalis cracked in some ways. he changed from the people that i spoke to who were there with him, he was never the same after that. those events -- that murder, is directly related to the hostagetaking in 1977. susan: i want to make sure we get the bulk of the story in and leave enough or people who want
to read your book. so we have two of this tools, the three legate schools, -- three legged stool's. both groups had hatred of zionism and to the third which you referenced in the beginning was the film about mohammed. i want to play a trailer and you can tell us how this mixes in. let's watch. [video clip] susan: mohammed is a liar. where's the light and where is the truth? it hasn't been spoken yet. they are led by greed and we are led by god.
these are the disciplines the prophet would put on you. you may not harm a woman, child or any person. susan: your book details years of twist and turns by the producer and we probably do not have time to go into it but i want to fast forward to spring of 1977, four years after the massacre in washington dc of his family. he is in new york city. he is a poster for this movie. take us into what happens when he sees the poster and how it gels in his mind. shahan: this movie was really the pretext for what happened on march 9, 1977.
their first demand when they took the hostages was that this movie that was premiering in new york and los angeles that day be taken off the screens. and that their reels be removed from the country. khaalis found this film like you said, he was in new york and 19 -- early 1977. by this time, he has been in back-to-back trials for the men who had committed the atrocities at the headquarters and felt his family members, they had been granted trials. some of them had never been convicted. khaalis and his family had been and a series of trials. that seemed to be at that point in time going nowhere. khaalis daughter who had been shot several times in that head had been asked to repeat that
testimony for several juries. so please pam is in a very strange frame of mind at that time. kareem abdul jabbar has drifted away from him for a lot of reasons. and khaalis sees this movie poster and he said this was the moment when he decided that he had to do something. none of the people we saw in this trailer just to be clear rep. trahan: mohammed the islamic prophet. -- none of the people who we saw in this trailer just to be clear are representing mohammed, the islamic prophet. khaalis leaved in it that taboo and practice that taboo as well but he saw the poster and interpreted this to be a crossing of that line. he believed that hollywood and through its agents like the
syrian american director of this film had decided to desecrate honor of his prophet, mohammed. everything in his mind his feud with the nation of islam which he believed was also backed by the same agents of the enemies of islam, the people who had -- who in his mind were running the criminal justice system in america, who had failed to deliver justice to him through these trials, the people who ran the nation of islam, in his mind it was all the same forces that were acting against him. and he decided that this film is what he would take a stand on and he timed the hostage taking and the siege of washington dc for the premier date of this film. that is what he said but i do also believe that he by this time, had decided that he would
exploit some of the divisions within the muslim world, abroad in asia and africa in the heart of middle east between forces that were supporting this movie, and some conservative parts who weren't really opposed to this project. the muslim world was equipped with this project that was going on also and this project had already caused trouble in the middle east and asia and south asia. khaalis knew about that and he also at this point, while he was rising to defend the honor of this prophet, he was also ready to launch a major spectacular attack that he knew would grip the media's attention. that he would be able to catapult himself into recognition in muslim capitals, and cairo, he knew international
coverage if he launched this spectacular attack that he would be a name recognized also in the middle east, not just in america. also abroad, which was an important piece of the puzzle. susan: so how was he able -- he said he was under surveillance i the fbi -- to build such a cache of weapons. shahan: this is something that i actually -- it is not too much detail in the book but atf under the treasury department at that time was ready to raid the headquarters of the hanafi headquarters. they were ready to raid the headquarters a few months before the attack on washington. they had gone on a spree of a buying weapons and ammunition throughout the washington dc, maryland, virginia area. they were being tracked.
but, the hanafis did not have a history of violence. khaalis had been in trouble with the law and try to rob a bank and been on that kind of edge of doing the illegal things but he had never been violent. the hanafis were recognized as a healthy community and nobody was necessarily scared of them. the justice department stopped that. stopped that rate from happening because the justice department at that time was trying to prosecute the herders of the hanafi family. the justice department and treasury discussed this case and the justice department went out and decided to call off the raid
because they truly did not believe that khaalis or the hanafis were capable of doing anything of violence. susan: although they were storing a lot of weapons. march 9, 1977 i want to go through three places. the first step was the headquarters. why there? shahan: this was the largest, olst, organization. in a khaalis mind there were zionist forces. juice -- jews of the world that had conspired. a lot of things that had gone wrong in his life. but in his mind, this jewish organization was his prime targets. susan: how many hostages there? shahan: over 100 were at the b'nai b'rith. he was part of the party of the
hanafis that took over that first building. that is where he was receiving phone calls, making phone calls, making demands, communicating and while six other men in that building were holding over 100 hostages. susan: seconds was a group entered the islamic center of washington during prayer time. why was that a target? shahan: islamic center was a very well-planned and well thought out attack. the islamic center attack happened a couple hours, just as the b'nai b'rith had been taken over, police heard on the radio frequencies about another takeover of the other islamic center. nobody connected these at the time. they thought maybe it was a coincidence. the islamic center was the moment -- is where this crisis
in washington that was very much a local police matter until that point became an international crisis. some of the people in washington and in the islamic center of washington held diplomatic status. they pacifically targeted -- they specifically targeted the islamic center. khaalis was no longer just talking to the district or simply talking to washington police, he had suddenly captured the state department's attention and the state department immediately engage. more importantly he captured the attention of muslim -- susan: how many hostages there? shahan: about a dozen. susan: number three was the one we discussed which is where maurice williams lost his life. why the district building -- district of columbia? shahan: the district of columbia
building, john wilson building now, is a couple hundred yards from the white house. president carter who had been in office at that time could actually see from his residence the fifth floor of the district building which is what the hana fis took over. they were expressing the third prong of the attack where they were attacking the district for -- in response to the justice system of the district, washington, dc, that had in theirind failed to deliver justice to them. they wanted to capture -- the hostage takers took a wrong turn in the building but still took several employees of the washington dc city hostage in that building but that was kind of the most local attack.
but it was also property on of the federal triangle. it was surrounded by federal power including the white house. with that third attack, it was definitely not local district law enforcement situation anymore. the fbi quickly jumped in. president carter ordered the fbi to start investigating and helping the police and the matter became a federal concern very quickly. susan: what were his demands? shahan: it puzzled the negotiators, the police at that time. but quickly his second demand came out that he was actually looking for the people who had entered the headquarters for years earlier and massacred the
family. khaalis wanted them delivered to him and everybody presumed it was to execute them. in his mind, that was the only justice left. since america had not delivered the justice that he wanted, he would deliver justice. he would execute justice himself. that was the second demand. a third demand emerged which was a demand for $750 and that was one that took me a while to figure out but that was really a demand -- it was a court fee he had paid at one point in the trial of his families murders. for an outburst that he had during the trial against one of the nation of islam assassins and he had to pay a court fee to continue the trial. in his mind, that $750, that was
the price for justice, that he would get that $750 back. there was a fourth demand that emerged at the end of the first day where khaalis not only was demanding that the assassins, the gunman who entered the headquarters that they be delivered but also that election mohammed's son who had taken over the natioof islam and his star disciple, muhammad ali, both also be delivered to him at the b'nai b'rith headquarters. the night was approaching and the morning papers would be running very soon and i think he wanted some star power to his crisis and he decided to drag muhammad ali into it. susan: you mentioned the role of the news media. here is our next clip. this is max robinson the anchor
who was live on the phone with him in the middle of the siege. let's listen. [video clip] >> once the film is removed from this country, once you are asking that those responsible for the death of who killed your children be brought to the b'nai b'rith building and the ones that killed malcolm. and the $750. >> and the $750. i have turned down millions of dollars. he owes me in contempt of court because i charged the murderers that murdered my babies. what do you think about that? do you think i'm been a roll over and play dead? when you think i am some kind of jokester? susan: so what was when you looked back at the role
journalists played in this 48 hours what were your conclusions? shahan: max robinson emerged as an important character for me. i felt kinship with him, big journalist character in my book. he got roped in the worst of all into this hostage situation. after the phone call he started receiving threatening phone calls and had to go into hiding that night. the next morning he went straight to the headquarters and dead piece to the camera there. a sympathetic piece actually, to the hanaifs which he later reflected on. the news media this is perhaps the first real live terrorist or militant attack in the u.s. that was covered live.
this hostage situation, this siege on the capital was being broadcast live and it also made the evening news on all the big networks. the media work a really important piece of the puzzle for khaalis. he knew that he very quickly went on the phone line and knew he had a plan to engage the news media. he was making phone calls, making sure that the news of the siege was wall-to-wall coverage across the country. journalists did not have a code of ethics or have much practice around how to deal with hostage situations or attacks were demands were being relayed through them to negotiators to law enforcement. journalists were coming up with solutions and ideas and sometimes really bad ideas on
the spot, on the fly. it was breaking news and there was not a lot of time for coverage or consideration and there were a lot of moments in this -- when i spoke to negotiators who were the police chief included and fbi negotiators, others from intelligence agencies, some of the most precarious moments that they remember and pointed out from that two day period where when something happens on tv. that trailer that we just watched of the movie a few seconds of that movie had played on a television station, that became really dangerous moments because if khaalis found out those images had been broadcast in washington dc could have set him off. he also got caught in a live daytime show like a talkshow and
that host did not handle the situation very well and sent khaalis into a rage live on the air. those are the moments negotiators now remember as moments when they thought they would lose control. susan: they were fairly sure that he would act out on his threats of killing hostages? shahan: there was no doubt in anybody's mind outside of the hostage situation, all the hostages i spoke to had no doubt in their mind that khaalis and his followers were capable of executing violence and none of the negotiators doubted that if khaalis was pushed over the edge that he could act out and do whatever. susan: his demands you enumerated before, the movie was stopped, 700 $50 was delivered to him but there was no way people were going to deliver the folks that he asked for knowing they would be killed in the process.
how did this come to an end? shahan: negotiators knew they cannot go around the country picking people out of state prisons and delivering them somehow to a person. it was an impossible demand. the negotiators worked through the whole of the first night and into the second day trying to distract khaalis, buying time, that was the only planet they had -- the only plan they had. the leader had flown in and offered himself to khaalis. in the end, it was the appearance of three foreign ambassadors,rothree muslim countries. pakistan, egypt and iran.
these three men offer their services to washington police in the state department and offered incredibly to enter the b'nai b'rith and have a face meeting with khaalis and try to convince him somehow to let go of the hostages, and they did. and they were given clearance from the very top including the mayor of washington dc but also the white house. i sell records of those phone calls from carter that's these three ambassadors did end up building with a copy of the koran and accompanied by unarmed police officers including the police chief, they entered the b'nai b'rith and sat down with khaalis face to face. the meeting went on for three hours that night which i detail in my book. when they emerged they said
khaalis, they inform the press that were waiting outside that khaalis was ready to release all hostages at all locations. susan: hostages were released and khaalis was arrested and went on to trial. we do not have time to tell that story. what was his judicial fate? shahan: he was arrested again after being released and went to trial. he was charged under washington dc with crimes but they were prosecuted by the department of justice and u.s. attorneys and they were able to make a case -- present a case for a vast conspiracy. there was only one location where there had been a death in the district building but that was first-degree murder charge for the shooter. there were also able to tighten all the hanafis at all locations. they had to prove this was a
premeditated attack and all hanafis had to be held responsible. prosecutors were able to do that eventually. in the summer of 1977, the trial was elaborate, and huge,. susan: and rapid? shahan: yes. this time khaalis was on trial. they presented a defense, the hanafis. they almost used a religious defense. the jury decided that -- they decided to convict all 12 hanafi men. he spent the rest of his life in jail and in the end of the buckeye duke do describe his experiences after -- and at the
end of the book i do describe his experiences during 9/11. the plane flew over his prison cell. susan: i wanted to type this altogether and asked, is this just a fascinating snapshot in time or are there some lessons to be drawn about contemporary society we should be aware of? shahan: i am a journalist so i am always thinking about that now and i was throughout the story. it was working on this book through very interesting and exciting times in this country. i worked on this book through the obama administration, through the trump administration, through the january 6, through the black lives matter movement. i viewed a lot of the events in the past six or seven years through the lens of my book and
there is a lot in here that helped me understand what was going on around. and beyond this obvious things like the tensions between muslims and non-muslims in this country and this image of the islamic prophet as something that triggers conflict. there is a lot about america. the book is called american caliph and it really unfolds the events that lead up to the events in washington dc, they unfold all across the country. i am following a director in hollywood. i am following khaalis. there is a lot that happens in this book that helped me understand what had been happening in america for the past six years and the crippled justice system, people's anxieties and frustrations with
american governments, with what is being delivered and not being delivered to them. these are all things that are in my book and i do hope other people see what i saw during the process of writing this book. susan: you did so much research, one wonders how you manage with thousands of pages of individual documents but is there one thing you remember saying this helped me understand at all? one piece of evidence you found that made the whole thing come together? shahan: well, i guess the transcripts. this is a reporting triumph of mine but i was able to locate the transcripts of the entire trial that happened after the siege. this had been lost and does not exist in the public record anymore but i was able to find one person who held onto the entire transcript of the entire 1977 trial of the washington
siege which happened to be in a damp garage, not doing well but it was all there. thousands of pages. susan: you reported that a federal court actually intentionally destroyed records. shahan: record retention policies -- it is amazing how this story has receded in the background and we do not talk about it as much. this is the first time anybody has told the story. it has never been assembled by anybody in 50 years or 40 plus years. a lot of it was lost and nobody has thought much about this. some of the federal records were retained by the local court records were lost including the transcripts that i was able to find and uncover that transcript and it is thousands of pages and it was every word spoken by every witness during the trial which will he help me -- really helped me.
but that record really helped me piece together the secret -- sequence of events in washington those two days. susan: that is it for our time. there is so much more to this story. the book is called american caliph. the 1977 siege of washington dc. thank you so much for the hour. shahan: >> all q and day programs are available on our website or as a podcast on our c-span now mobile app. announcer: sunday on q & a a journalist and author of dinner with the president talks about how food and the culinary taste
of u.s. presidents have impacted american culture, history, and to furtherhe presidential agendas. >> the new york times was so impressed that they had a big headline saying king george eats hotdogs and drinks beer and ask for seconds. there is a political motive here. this is before the u.s. entered the second world war. fdr feared hitler's and wanted to join the allies against germany, the u.s. was in an isolationist mood at that point. many americans were still annoyed with great britain for not repaying their world war i debts. but he realized that the king and queen were a unique couple, and if he could humanize them and make them appealing to the american public it might help to sway the public mood, so this
was a theatrical moment orchestrated. announcer: alex ruto with his book dinner with the president sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q & a. listen to q & a and all of our podcasts on our free cspan now app. announcer: here is a look at what is coming up tonight on c-span. next on book tv's interview program "after words" a look at how the u.s. legal system handles police misconduct. senate minority leader mitch mcconnell takes place in a town hall meeting in munich, germany. an update on the white house and the president's trip to poland. we also talk about taking down unidentified objects that have been seen in recent weeks. those programs and more tonight on c-span. announcer: there are almost 80
new members in the 118th congress, and this includes first generation americans and a record number of women and minorities. c-span interviewed more than half of them about their upbringing and political careers. on monday here from several representatives. watch new members of the 118th congress at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span or online at c-span.org. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2023] announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more, including midco. ♪