January 26, 2003
By Tina Susman
Early in the morning of April 19, 1979, Horace Greene was shot dead on a Brooklyn street as he went to open the day care center he ran.
It seems the sort of crime that should have been easy to crack. It was brazen, committed on a public street. The victim was a high-profile local activist.
The city offered a $10,000 reward. There was even a witness who provided a description of a bearded gunman wearing a Muslim robe and cap, recalls Bill Clark, a retired New York Police homicide detective.
Twenty-four years later, though, no one has been charged in the murder, despite police and FBI investigations that pointed to involvement of a black Islamic group whose leader, then known as Isa Muhammad, was accused by neighbors, former supporters and the FBI of terrorizing the Bushwick section where his Ansaru Allah Community was based in the late 1970s.
A 1993 FBI report based on information from Ansaru Allah followers says Greene angered Muhammad, who is now known as Dwight York or Dr. Malachi Z. York, by doing what few in the neighborhood dared: speaking out against York's racially charged rhetoric and his attempts to expand his group's influence.
According to the report, informants identified Greene's killer as a York confidant and Ansaru Allah member known as Hashim the Warrior. The man is now in prison for an unrelated, 1983 double murder.
York denied Ansaru Allah was involved in crime, but several of his closest confidants were charged with various crimes, including arson, assault, and robbery in the 1970s-'90s in cities where Ansaru Allah was active, including New York.
How York managed to operate in New York from the early 1970s until he left for Georgia in 1993 can be attributed to the politics of the time and to the strict control he appears to have had over those around him, say law enforcement officials.
The Ansaru Allah Community's growth, coincided with rising tensions in the United States between the government and Muslim groups, Clark noted.
"Police were very sensitive to observing the religious sanctity of institutions like this," he said.
In addition, police were preoccupied with other things, such as the crack epidemic, said Stephen Lungen, the district attorney of Sullivan County, where York ran a heavily guarded compound from 1983-93.
"Without someone telling you something is wrong, you just don't have the right to bang the door down and tear the place apart," Lungen said.
Brooklyn police had the same problem. "Potential witnesses became less and less cooperative as they got more and more frightened," Clark said.