‘He’s not a terrorist’: Father of man involved in standoff on I-95 defends son
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WCVB) — The father of the leader of a group involved in a standoff on Interstate 95 in Massachusetts is defending his son, who is set to appear in court on firearms-related charges.
Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey, of Providence, Rhode Island, is one of 10 men who was charged in connection with the standoff in Wakefield that shut down part of I-95 for hours on Saturday. A 17-year-old boy was also charged in connection with the standoff.
Abdullah Bey, 29, is the leader of the group called “Rise of the Moors” and took to social media to say that the group was traveling on a “peaceful journey” from Rhode Island to Maine for “training.” He said the group had pulled over on I-95 north to refuel one of their vehicles, and that is when a Massachusetts State Police trooper pulled over to offer assistance to them.
State police officials said the men were dressed in military-style uniforms with fatigues and body armor and carrying a combination of rifles and pistols. The men were unable to provide identification and firearms licenses to the trooper who offered them help, and investigators later determined that none of the men had a license to carry firearms.
Steven Latimer, Abdullah Bey’s father, said he knows his son as a loving father to a young daughter.
“My son is a kind person. He doesn’t have any ill will. He’s not a terrorist,” Latimer said.
According to Latimer, his 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 just a few years ago when he joined “Rise of the Moors.”
On Saturday, Abdullah Bey and the other men had surrendered to authorities without incident after a nearly nine-hour standoff. State police said they recovered at least eight firearms from the scene: three AR-15 rifles, two pistols, a bolt-action rifle, a shotgun and a short-barrel rifle.
“I am thankful for the Massachusetts State Police for their patience in seeing it through and thankful that it didn’t go and turn another way, because that was my biggest fear,” Latimer said.
As Abdullah Bey and the 10 other individuals await arraignment in Malden District Court on Tuesday, Latimer is urging the public not to jump to conclusions.
“I know they don’t promote violence. At least (my son) doesn’t,” Latimer said.
A member of “Rise of the Moors” says he intends to represent the 11 individuals in court, even though he is not affiliated with a bar association.
Leonitus Jabir Bey said he has represented himself and multiple Moors in legal proceedings in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He does note, however, that it will ultimately be the judge’s decision whether to allow him to represent the men he calls “family.”