Muslim Terrorists Took 134 Hostages in the Name of Allah in a 1977 Guerrilla Raid

RTX3BJ2E
Air passengers walk into Washington Dulles International Airport after a federal judge ruled Thursday that President Trump's temporary ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries cannot stop grandparents and other relatives of U.S. citizens from entering the country in Dulles, Virginia, July 14, 2017. Reuters

Newsweek published this story under the headline “SEIZING HOSTAGES SCOURGE OF THE '70s” on March 21, 1977. Newsweek is republishing the story.

Some came out bandaged and bloody. A few were carried out by stretcher. Some women were crying; a few managed to smile. A middle-aged woman touched the hand of every policeman she could reach. "Thank you," she said. "Thank you, very much." There were tearful hugs which anxious relatives who had maintained a long vigil, and an elderly woman said to no one in particular: "Oh God, it's so good to be alive." At 2:18 on Friday morning, the bells of the nearby Foundary Methodist Church pealed the good news: the 39-hour siege of Washington was over.

It had begun with a clockwork guerrilla raid against three separate buildings in the Capital. The terrorists were twelve black Americans, members of the small Hanafi Muslim sect led by Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, a 56-year-old fanatic bent on avenging the 1973 murder of five of his children by Black Muslims (page 21). Before their assault was over, 134 hostages had been taken, one man had been shot dead and nineteen others had been shot, stabbed or beaten. The entire Capital was traumatized by the ordeal: visiting Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was whisked out of town amid fears that he too might be a target, the Justice Department and even the President were drawn into the tactical planning and three ambassadors of Muslim nations finally turned out to be the key negotiators with the terrorists.

The Washington raid was the nation's most harrowing episode of domestic terrorism so far and its most dramatic brush with what has become the crime of the '70s: seizing hostages. The scourge started with skyjacking, then escalated in 1972 when Arab commandos captured nine Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. In the last month alone, there have been more than a dozen incidents in the U.S., and just two days before the Hanafi raid last week, an ex-marine in Cleveland released a hostage only after President Carter agreed to talk to him. "We have discovered a new syndrome," said Washington Mayor Walter Washington last week. "It's a terror syndrome.

DELICATE DILEMMAS

Unhappily, the pathology of terrorism is more advanced than any available treatment. Hostage-taking confronts police, political leaders and journalists alike with a series of delicate dilemmas: whether to wait or to fight, whether to publicize or whether to be quiet, when to bargain and when to be firm, whether to keep bargains once made (page 25). In the aftermath of the Hanafi raid, police kept their bargain to release Khaalis without bail, a move that prompted some criticism. For the most part, at least since the Attica prison uprising, when a hard line led to 39 deaths, authorities have played a waiting game—and that is what paid off last week in Washington. Jimmy Carter endorsed that approach: "I thought," he said, "[the outcome] was a vivid proof of that a slow and careful approach was the effective way." The problem was that there was no certainty it would always be so effective, or that there was any way of preventing in the future the sort of random violence that had seized Washington.

The Hanafi holy war erupted on a warm, sunny morning. A few minutes after 11 a.m. last Wednesday, a 2-ton U-Haul van cruised up Rhode Island Avenue and pulled into an alley next to the eight-story headquarters of B'nai B'rith, the Jewish service organization. Inside, Khaalis and six Hanafi commandos were poised for the first attack. They were dressed in jeans and work shirts and they wore long knives strapped to heavy steel chains about their hips. They carried what appeared to be a number of guitar cases, which held an assortment of rifles, shotguns and a crossbow.

The raiders jumped out of the van and burst into the B'nai B'rith lobby brandishing guns, swords and knives. By chance, an automatic elevator loaded with passengers opened in the lobby just as the Hanafis made their assault. "Get down or we'll blow your heads off," one of the raiders yelled. When Wesley Hymes, 31, a black printer, tried to get away, a Hanafi soldier slashed him on the left hand with a machete, then shot him in the left arm, when he raised it to defend himself. "They killed my babies and shot my women," Khaalis bellowed at the terror-stricken passengers. "Now they will listen to us—or heads will roll."

'LIKE THE GREEN BERETS'

With military precision, the raiders divided into two squads. One band dragooned a few captives and started shuttling guns and boxes of ammunition to a conference room on the eighth floor, where the raiders set up a defensive perimeter and a prisoner-holding pen. The second squad started to round up hostages. "They were absolute pros—like the Green Berets or something," said captive J. Nicholls, 34, a typewriter repairman. Mimi Feldman, a scrappy secretary in her late 50s, took off the Star of David she was wearing around her neck before being pulled into an elevator. "Bitch," snapped a gunman, who cracked her on the head and ribs with a gun butt. The gunmen stormed the office of Dr. Sidney Clearfield, who was talking on the phone to Steven Hurwitz, a colleague in Richmond, Va. Hurwitz heard a voice growl: "Up against the wall or we'll blow your head off." Then Dr. Clearfield's line went silent.

Capturing the building took less than an hour. At the peak of the assault, Khaalis picked up a telephone and coolly dialed the number of the Hanafi Center in Northwest Washington. Abdul Aziz, his son-in-law, got on.

"We're in," was Khaalis's terse report.

"Praise Allah," his son-in-law replied.

The first attack took the Washington police—and everyone else—off guard. Within the B'nai B'rith building, dozens of people managed to elude the raiders by barricading themselves in offices on the lower floors. By phone and by desperate gesturing out the windows, they summoned help. Police cars with wailing sirens screeched up to the building; snipers in flak vests took up firing positions on nearby rooftops; the neighborhood was sealed off. At first, the counterattacking police though they were dealing with cornered gunmen from a foiled holdup. And at the city's crisis command post—a warren of offices on Indiana Avenue used mainly during the riots and protest demonstrations of the past - the first log entry for the day read simply: "Shooting, barricade, hostages . . . who and why unknown."

While the police tried to puzzle things out, the Hanafis struck again - this time at the Islamic Center, a lovely blue and white mosque with a towering minaret on the edge of Rock Creek Park. For months Khaalis had been chafing over the liberal views of the center's director, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf. At 12:30 p.m. gunmen wearing blue jeans and wool caps, carrying shotguns and two long knives, walked into the center's first-floor offices and demanded to see Rauf. When he appeared and asked the gunmen who they were, one of them replied: "We come here every Friday for prayer." Then the phone rang. It was Khaalis, who accused Rauf of supporting Wallace Muhammad, leader of the rival Black Muslims. What's more, Khaalis told Rauf, a 59-year-old Egyptian, "your country is seeking peace with the Jews."

At about the same time, a group of tourists led by the Rev. Robert Tesdell, 58, a Disciples of Christ minister and travel agent from New York, drove up in a bus and entered the mosque. John Ashton, 22, Tesdell's driver, waited outside. Suddenly he noticed a mailman on the mosque grounds drop his mailbag and bolt for the street. "Did you see the man with the rifle?" the postman asked Ashton. Rauf, Tesdell and nine others were in Hanafi hands, and once again police sirens wailed. The second entry in the command-center log was also terse and confused: "Shooting, barricade, streets closed."

Even as the Hanafis were digging in, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin was at the Kennedy Center accepting an honorary degree from American University. When Rabin finished his speech, his press counselor, Aviezer Pazner, slipped him a Secret Service message: "B'nai B'rith headquarters under siege."

"Who is involved," Rabin asked quietly.

"We don't know," Pazner replied.

Under reinforced security, Rabin drove to the Shoreham Hotel—just a few blocks from the besieged Islamic Center—to deliver a luncheon address. There a dozen tense Secret Service agents lined the dining room. There was also an Israeli security man whose raincoat concealed an Uzi submachine gun. Rabin rushed through his speech. Then, skipping the highly vulnerable VIP helicopter flight across Washington, he drove under heavy guard to Andrews Air Force Base and flew to New York as scheduled.

At about 2:15 p.m., the Hanafi raiders launched their third attack. Two of Khaalis's soldiers, dressed in black and armed with a shotgun and a .22-caliber handgun, took over an office on the fifth floor of Washington's city hall, a six-story, marble edifice called the District Building. Down the hall, Mayor Washington, fresh from the Rabinn lunch, locked himself in and shoved a desk up against the door. Elevator operator Theodore Wade unwittingly stopped at the fifth floor and found himself face to face with one of the raiders. "When he pointed the shotgun at me I pushed the gun up and closed the door on him," Wade reported later. "I said: 'My God, it's just like on TV'."

'I'VE BEEN HIT'

Down on the ground floor, guard Mack Wesley Cantrell, 51, dashed for an elevator. He bumped into city councilman Marion Barry. He warned Barry, 41, a black, that there seemed to be "some trouble" up above. In a second elevator nearby, two young black reporters - Maurice Williams, 24, of radio station WHUR, and Steven Colter, 24, of the Washington Afro-American - were bound for a news conference on the fifth floor. They joshed each other that they were in for a big bore. The two elevators reached the fifth floor at about the same time. Barry, Williams, and Colter stood a moment in the corridor. Cantrell—joined by guard James Yancy from the mayor's office—then headed for a suite of city-council offices down the hall. "There was this guy who had his back up against the door," Yancy recalled later. "Before we knew what has happening, the dude spun around—and was firing."

Three shots rang out. Barry, Cantrell and Robert Pierce, 51, a city-council aide, were all wounded as they stood in the corridor. Barry staggered into the city-council chamber clutching his hands to his chest. Blood oozed over his fingers. "I've been hit," he said, "Don't go out in that hall."

The full force of a shotgun blast hit Williams in the chest. He crumpled to the floor, awash in blood. "I'm hit, Steve," he cried to his friend. Colter ducked inside a side room. After a few moments he gingerly peered out. "I began to holler: 'Maurice, Maurice. If you can hear me, say so'," he recalled. There was no answer. He felt Williams's pulse. The young man was dead.

The gunmen then retreated with a group of hostages into the office of city-council chairman Sterling Tucker. For the third time police cars screamed into action against the Hanafis. The siege of Washington was complete.

It looked very much a mismatch at first. Hundreds of Washington police, joined by dozens of FBI agents (ordered into the fray by President Carter) descended upon the B'nai B'rith headquarters, the Islamic Center and the District Building. Although they didn't know it, the lawmen were arrayed against an army of twelve. The FBI dispatched specially trained hostage-negotiating teams to each of the three siege camps. Their immediate problem was perplexing: for hours no one really knew who the gunmen were—or even if the three attacks were connected.

In mid-afternoon, WTOP-TV reporter Max Robinson got a call from Abdul Aziz, who had met Robinson at the time of the 1973 mass murder, which had occurred at Hanafi headquarters. Robinson met with Aziz, who identified the leader of the current siege as his father-in-law, Khalifa Hamaas Abdul Khaalis. Robinson then spoke by phone with Khaalis, and heard him deliver a ferocious attack on a movie premiering that day in New York and Los Angeles: "Mohammad, Messenger of God," a $17 million epic about Islam starring Anthony Quinn - and financed largely by investors in the Middle East (page 89).

PASSIONATE DEMANDS

"We want the picture out of the country," Khaalis said.

"Why?"

"Because it's a fairy tale . . . You talk for all the American people, but I'm a Muslim and I'll die for my faith. It's a joke. It's misrepresenting the Muslim faith."

Khaalis's other demands were also passionate. "First thing I want the killers of my babies . . . I say we want them right here. I want to see how tough they are. I want the one who killed Malcolm [X] too." While Khaalis didn't come right out and say it, he clearly intended to settle a few blood scores with his old enemies, the Black Muslims. He also demanded that the police reimburse him for a $750 fine he had incurred for contempt of court. He was fined after shouting, "You killed my babies and shot my women" during the 1973 trial of vie Black Muslims convicted for the massacre of Khaalis's family at the Hanafi headquarters. WTOP's Robinson also had another mandate from Khaalis: to contact Secretary of State Cyrus Vance "because we are going to kill foreign Muslims at the Islamic Center [and] create an international incident." He also asked that the same message be delivered to the ambassadors of all Muslim countries.

At the State Department, Douglas Heck, an expert on countering terrorists, began to cast about for allies within the Islamic diplomatic community. In New York, moviegoers were turned away and screens went blank in four theaters that were showing "Mohammad," though the producers maintained that the film avoided blasphemy by not depicting the Prophet himself. In Chicago, Wallace Muhammad, spiritual leader of the Black Muslims, set out for Washington to see what help he could offer. And in Los Angeles, Muhammad Alic was tracked down by ABC's Barbara Walters, who asked him what he was going to do about the crisis: "If you're concerned about me," said the subdued Black Muslim boxer, "don't get me involved."

At the White House, President Carter had just returned from the swearing-in ceremonies for his new CIA chief, Adm. Stansfield Turner. Soft classical music played in the study adjoining the Oval Office. Suddenly aide Hamilton Jordan entered. "Mr. President," he said. "The damnedest thing has just happened," Jordan related what he knew, telling Carter that it was not clear whether the three invasions were connected. "It's difficult for me to believe they're not connected," Carter observed, and he directed Jordan to find out more.

WHITE HOUSE MEETING

Jordan convened a White House meeting of national-security adviser Zbignew Brzezinski, press secretary Jody Powell, legal counselor Robert Lipshutz and other key aides. The President's men were deeply worried that Carter's decision to telephone Cleveland kidnapper Cory C. Moore—though only after Moore released a hostage he had been holding for 46 hours—might draw Carter into a stickier mess with Khaalis. They decided to keep the White House out of the Hanafi case as much as possible. If necessary, they concluded, Carter would talk to Khaalis—but again only after all the hostages were released. To the relief of all the President's men. Khaalis never asked to speak to Carter.

Khaalis chose to let a number of his hostages go within hours, despite earlier threats. "They were a bunch of crazies," said Andrew Hoffman, a 20-year-old student who was released from the B'nai B'rith building. "They asked me where my people were from. I'm half Jewish, but I said Italy." Khaalis escorted Hoffman to a barricaded stairwell and turned him loose. As the young man scuttled out, his captor yelled after him: "Andy! Get married—and have lots of babies."

Not everyone was as lucky. Alton Kirkland, 21, knifed at the B'nai B'rith building and evacuated by the police, underwent surgery to reinflate a punctured lung and to repair a punctured diaphragm and stomach. From the District Building, Cantrell and Pierce were brought to George Washington University Medical Center. A bullet had grazed Cantrell's skull, miraculously missing his brain. Pierce was bleeding internally and could not move his legs. Doctors suspected that his spinal cord might have been damaged, and feared that he might wind up paralyzed. The bullet that hit Barry stopped less than an inch from his heart; he was in good condition after surgery.

For the remaining hostages the next 36 hours were a passage through hell. At the District Building, police peering through bullet-shattered windows and glass partitions saw seven hostages tied hand and foot lying face down on the floor, while their captors swaggered above them with shot guns. One congressman who made his way to the fifth floor said later the corridor looked "just like an alley in Da Nang." In the Islamic Center, the gunmen did provide their prisoners with chairs. "We're all having prisoners with chairs. "We're all having coffee and tea and a nice chat," one of the gunmen told an interviewer. Then he added coldly: "But heads will roll and people will die unless we get our demands."

Khaalis and the Hanafi army transformed the eighth floor of the B'nai B'rith building into a field headquarters—and a concentration camp. "Entebbe was a paradise compared to what the terrorists did," shuddered one survivor. The raiders spoke in a strange patois of verses from the Koran and street talk that was particularly menacing to the Jewish captives. "They told us the Koran condemned us to wander the world forever," recalled B'nai B'rith Foundation director Sidney Closter. "They accused us of having turned our backs on Allah when the Prophet emerged. Mixed up in all the sputtering were gutter-language threats to 'blow our mother-f---ing heads off'."

The invaders prodded their hostages with gun butts as they herded them off to the eighth floor. Some of the younger men were ordered to push boxes of window sashes up against the windows; others used rollers abandoned by fleeing painters to paint out the windows—a protection against snipers. "I remember thinking, 'Why does life have to end like this?'" recalled one of the prisoners.

Perhaps out of religious scruples, the captors separated the men and women and treated the women a good deal more gently than the men. "They made a fetish out of saying how they were not going to rape the women," recalled secretary Feldman. In fact, the terrorists instructed the women to cover their legs with newspapers, explaining that by Muslim standards they were indecently exposed.

DEATH THREATS

The male prisoners did not fare as well. "We were tied hands behind our backs and legs," reported one of them. "There was so much pain if left little room for thinking about anything." When one captured workman said, "If I gotta die I gotta die," Khaalis cracked him on the head with a gun, saying, according to one witness, "I think I'll kill you right now." When women in the room began to weep and scream, "No, no," Khaalis stopped. Catching sight of police snipers on a nearby roof, one of the gunmen leered at some of the older male captives. "We gonna hang these old men upside down, pull open the shades and give them something to shoot at," he said. Si Cohen, 53, director of B'nai B'brith Community Volunteer Services, managed to talk his captors into letting him use the toilet in private. "I got out my wallet and took out the photographs of my wife and children," he recalled."I believed for the first time, sincerely, I was going to die there—and never see them again."

The desperate hours were particularly harrowing for Khaalis's Jewish captives. "They taunted us that it was a lie Hitler killed 6 million Jews," reported one B'nair B'rith officer. "They referred to us contemptibly as 'yehudi,' and they blamed us for the contempt with which Idi Amin is held in this country." On the first day of the occupation, David Blumberg, president of the International B'nai B'rith, managed to get a call through to the building. When Khaalis found out, he railed: "I don't want to speak to any Jew bastards. Tell him." Betty Neal, whom Khaalis designated as his unwilling secretary for the duration, replied bravely: "I could never say that to David Blumberg." And she didn't.

To Neal, Khaalis confided how he had become a warrior. "He said some of the actors in 'Mohammad the Messenger' had played homosexuals in previous roles.I found myself feeling compassionate when he talked about the murders of his children and other members of his family," Neal recalled. "He said he had been planning how and when to respond and waiting for guidance when it came—word of the showing of the motion picture." As the siege wore on, Khaalis reluctantly permitted the release of a few captives suffering chest pains. He also began to allow his captives to use the toilet whenever they needed. The bonds on the men were loosened a bit. And for the first time the prisoners began to sense that negotiations might free them after all.

The first attempts at a negotiated settlement had not been very promising. On the first day of the siege, Washington deputy police chief Robert Rabe summoned the State Department's Heck to the police field command post near the B'nai B'rith building. Rabe relayed Khaalis's demand to be put in touch with Islamic ambassadors. As it turned out, Egypt's Ambassador Ashraf Ghorbal had already volunteered his services to Secretary Vance. Ghorbal then enlisted the help of Pakistan's dashing Ambassador Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan, acting director of the captured Islamic Center and a four-handicap polo player. "Our task was to establish rapport with him, to persuade him to release the hostages as a merciful action and to play to his religious sentiments to that end," Ghorbal recalled.

At 6:15 p.m. on the first day of the siege, the two diplomats placed their first call to Khaalis from police headquarters. "He was in a very excitable mood," recalled Yaqub-Khan."It was a very tense movement." Khaalis launched a tirade against Muslim countries for not backing up his holy war; he said he had become a victim of cruelties because of his own Muslim faith, and he argued that no one ever listened to him around the Islamic Center. After leafing swiftly through the Koran in search of suitable calming verses, Yaqub-Khan began to try a few out on Khaalis. "Don't teach me the Koran," Khaalis snorted. "I know the Koran better than you."

A MIDNIGHT CALL

For the next few hours the two ambassadors discussed plans with police chief Maurice Cullinane for making a second call to Khaalis. Still wearing their suit coats, they munched roast-beef sandwiches and sipped coffee. Eventually, they were joined by Iran's elegant Ambassador Ardeeshir Zahedi, who had flown in from Paris on the Concorde. Between them, they came up with a new Koran next: "Let not the hatred of some people in once shutting you out of the sacred mosque lead you to transgression . . . For Allah, for Allah is strict in punishment." They tried it out in a call around midnight. Khaalis responded by quoting the doctrine of devine retribution from the Book of Qasas. "He certainly had a very good knowledge of the Koran," Yaqub-Khan observed.

'LETTING OFF STEAM'

The three diplomats tried two more phone calls: one at 3 a.m., the last at 5 a.m. They got nowhere, but resolved to keep on trying. "It was a catharsis for him to let off steam," said Yaqub-Khan. "But above all we had to avoid getting into an argument that might upset him. The last thing we wanted was to let him go off the deep end."

The prayed-for breakthrough finally came on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. when, for the first time, Khaalis put in a telephone call, asking to meet face to face with Yaqub-Khan. The problem was where they would meet, how—and whether Khaalis could carry arms. Chief Cullinane suggested that he come down to the street unarmed. Khaalis replied: "I'll be damned if I'm going to come down and be shot by your people."

Yaqub-Khan's colleague were also reluctant to let him bear the full risk alone. In the end a compromise was cobbled together.The three ambassadors, Cullinane and Rabe agreed to meet Khaalis and his son-in-law, Aziz, in the lobby of the B'nai B'rith building. They set up a folding cafeteria table and eight chairs.

Khaalis, unarmed, took the elevator down from the eighth floor. He greeted the three ambassadors in Arabic and hugged them three times; he politely took note of the police negotiators, who wore no guns. Once again he exchanged verses from the Koran with the diplomats—in English. For three hours the talks went on. "I knew he was going to free the hostages," said Yaqub-Khan. "Only the modalities were not decided."

NEWSWEEK learned that the final breakthrough came when Ghorbal suggested that Khaalis release 30 hostages as a gesture of good faith. Khaalis looked around the table and calmly volunteered to release them all. That, in effect, was it; the only outstanding question was the fate of the terrorists. "Whether or not he himself was going behind bars immediately was not decided," said Yaqub-Khan. "He thought it would look bad to his followers if he were put in jail at once."

Khaalis had not insisted on his own release as a precondition for talks. "The psychological profile of this guy showed that saving face was the most important thing to him," observed Washington's Corporation Counsel John Risher, 37, who monitored the talks. "He didn't talk in terms of amnesty. He talked in terms of an indictment and trial.It became very clear that what he wanted was some free time to say: 'I left my entire house in order.' He could only do that if he was allowed some freedom. It was saving face in a very, very total sense."

OFFER AND NEEDS

The problem was how to square such face-saving with the demands of the law. While the talks went on, Deputy Attorney General-designate Peter Flaherty and U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert waited at the nearby Gramercy Inn. After the negotiators brought them word of Khaalis's offer and needs, Silbert and Flaherty were still reluctant to make a deal or set a precedent. At 1:08 a.m., they called Attorney General Griffin Bell and asked if he would agree not to oppose a bail-free release for Khaalis. Bell agreed.

That left the matter up to the courts. At 1:15 a.m., Silbert called Harold Greene, the soft-spoken and thoughtful chief judge of Washington's Superior Court. He asked Greene whether he would allow Khaalis to remain free without bail pending trial - if the government also agreed. Greene reportedly said that he was leery of the precedent, that he feared other terrorists might take encouragement from it. But with the lives of the hostages at stake, he finally agreed. While Greene prepared to drive to his chambers from his home in Chevy Chase, Silbert told the police to lay down their arms.

The Islamic Center gunmen surrendered at 1:30 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, deputy chief Robert W. Klotz and officer Joseph Traylor stepped out into fifth-floor corridor of the District Building and walked to the northwest corner offices, where eleven hostages were being held. Guns holstered, they stood before the door.

"Are your Klotz?" asked a low voice.

"Yes," the officer replied.

The two gunmen placed a shotgun, a machete and a curved sword on the floor, opened the door, placed their hands on their heads and walked out.

The terrorists in the B'nai B'rith building gave themselves up—without telling their captives. "I saw the police and I thought, 'Oh my Lord'," recalled hostage Billy Pat Clamp, 37. "I thought they would start shooting." Instead it was liberation day. "I untied myself, then untied the man beside me," said Clamp. "Everyone started kissing.People who weren't even close at the beginning were kissing each other. It was beautiful."

Khaalis turned up in Judge Greene's courtroom at 5:10 a.m. with two court-appointed lawyers at his side. Before releasing him, Judge Greene imposed a few conditions. Khaalis could not leave Washington, he had to surrender his passport, he had to surrender his passport, he had to give up all firearms, he had to shun pre-trial publicity and he had to promise not to break the law again. Greene told Khaalis his rights, arraigned him for armed kidnapping, set a hearing for March 31, and released him without bail. Technically, Khaalis qualified: he had a "stable residence" and no prior convictions.

Unmanacled, he walked out of the courthouse between two deputy marshals. He made his exit in a suede cap and a trenchcoat - and the puffed thoughtfully on a long cigar.

A CASE OF THE JITTERS

The next day, his foot soldiers trudged to court. Bail was set at $50,000 each for two of the men and $75,000 each for six others. The three gunmen at the Islamic Center, where no hostages were harmed, were released, like Khaalis, on their own recognizance. It turned out that Khaalis had taken the B'nai B'rith building with the help of Abdul Adam, 32, Abdul Shaaeed, 23, Abdul Razzaaq, 23, Abdul Salaam, 31, Abdul Hamid, 22, and Abdul Latif, 33. The gunmen at the Islamic Center were Abdul Al Rahman, 37, Abdul Al Qawee, 22 and Phillip Alvin Yough, 26. The attackers at the District Building where Williams was killed were Abdul Murikir Do, 22, and Abdul Nuh, 28. All were arraigned for armed kidnapping, but the prosecutors made it plain that they would also seek murder indictments against some of the men.

Washington itself started slowly to recover from what had been an acutely uncomfortable case of the jitters. Police removed the barricades in the streets around the liberated buildings and traffic began to flow normally once again along the city's broad avenues. In the B'nai B'rith building and the city hall, workers started sweeping up the glass and restoring order. In the end, Khaalis accomplished little more than to recoup his $750 and get the movie "Mohammad" shut down for a few days. But he did manage to remind the entire nation how vulnerable a free society is to the scourge of terrorism.