Me: I love this wide shot; it’s one of my favorite photos in the collection. Abi (my father): It’s not really a wide shot, it’s surveillance. Me: (pause) Me: Surveillance? Abi: Yes, sur-vey-lance (with an emphasis on the “lance”). In the Dar I took photos of Muslims in the community and also of our surroundings. It was one of the ways we kept our neighborhood safe. We kept track of people who came and went and took notice of anything that didn’t seem right. We kept our eye on the agents inside the masjid and outside the masjid. You know that picture of the men in the van? Me: Oh yeah, I like that one too. Abi: Yeah…these dudes used to park their van outside the masjid and just sat there. So, one day I walked up to them like, “oh, you watch’in us…man, we watch’in you too,” CLICK!
COINTELPRO (syllabic abbreviation derived from COunter INTELligence PROgram) (1956–1971) was a series of covert and illegal projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting American political organizations.
In July of 2019, I sat alongside my father, and Imam El-Hajj Ali Muhammad Ali Muhammad on a panel at the Black Muslim Phycology Conference in Malvern, PA to talk about the Dar-ul-Islam Movement. Imam Muhammad decided to tell the story of the Dar from the end which opened with information about COINTELPRO and other devices used to dismantle organizations like the Dar.