(RNS) — The Nation of Islam has repudiated last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol that left a police officer dead and another injured and distanced itself from the suspect, after some reports that he was a “follower” of the religious movement led by Minister Louis Farrakhan.
In a Tuesday (April 6) statement, the group said that Noah Green, the assailant who was killed in the attack, sought but did not complete membership in the Nation of Islam. The statement also expressed NOI’s sympathy with the victims, condolences to their families and prayers “for the full recovery of the officer who was injured.”
“Mr. Noah Green’s alleged use of an automobile as a weapon and the alleged possession of a knife as reported, violates our teachings,” the statement read. “We absolutely disavow this act that resulted in the senseless loss of life. It is shocking for us to learn that someone who was attempting to be a part of our ranks may have been involved in something as tragic as this.”
The U.S. Capitol Police announced on Friday that Officer William “Billy” Evans, one of two officers struck by a vehicle, died after the attack, which took place at the Capitol’s north barricade. The Metropolitan Police of Washington, D.C., working in conjunction with the Capitol Police and the FBI, identified the suspect as Green, 25, “of no fixed address.”
Green was shot after he stepped out of his car armed with a large knife and lunged toward another officer, according to authorities. The second officer who was struck by Green’s car has since been released from the hospital.
The Nation of Islam, founded in the 1930s and based in Chicago, has long championed Black separatism and self-sufficiency. While its members consider the movement a sect of Islam, it differs in key precepts from Sunni or Shiite belief, and most Muslims don’t recognize it as mainstream Islam.
In disavowing Green’s actions, the Nation of Islam described itself as having “no history of violence against the government.” It added it instructs its members to not carry weapons or have any — “not so much as a penknife” — in their homes.
“This young man, Noah Green, we believe may have attended our Saviours’ Day convention in Detroit, MI in February 2020,” it said, adding that he made a donation to the organization’s Saviours’ Day Gift charity, which is related to a holiday associated with the birthday of Nation of Islam founder Wallace Fard Muhammad.
“A search of our records indicates Noah Green was not a registered member of the Nation of Islam. It appears that in late summer (August-September) of 2020, he started the process to begin his study to become a member, but he did not complete the process.”
The statement noted NOI’s practice of gathering on the Capitol grounds, most notably the 1995 Million Man March, which drew hundreds of thousands of Black men for a peaceful gathering.
“We had a good working relationship with the U.S. Capitol police during each of these historic events,” it said.
The faith group also expressed concern that media organizations were overly quick to connect Green and the attack to the Nation of Islam. Referring to the perpetrator of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings, the statement said, “we respectfully say to the members of the media and to the American people, Timothy McVeigh confessed that he was a Christian, but nobody blames the church for his misconduct.”
NOI also claimed a similar dynamic when it came to the faith of those involved in the Jan. 6 attack on Congress. “When thousands of American citizens engaged in an attempted insurrection, attacking the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, resulting in the deaths of five persons and injuring many, the news media did not question what their religion was,” it said.
The Nation of Islam added that the teachings of its faith do not support the taking of innocent life.
“For us, human life is sacred,” it said. “And the violation of human life is a violation of God, Himself, because He’s the giver of life and He’s the ultimate cause of death. But He doesn’t give us the right to kill innocent people. That is against our law.”
The statement noted a Washington Post report that Green’s family described him by saying he “was not a terrorist by any means,” was studying for an advanced degree in business administration but had suffered from “depression and potential mental illness.”
The Nation of Islam said it is continuing to research Green’s life and “we cannot rest until we find out what caused him to take a turn like this.”
Its leader, too, expressed what the movement called the “great potential” that Green exhibited.
“I am sure,” Farrakhan stated, “had he been blessed to come through the crisis that he was going through, he would have been a star in the mission of the resurrection of our people. We need to know what happened to our brother.”