Friday, July 10, 2009

Dawud Salahuddin

Dawud Salahuddin (also known as Hassan Abdulrahman or Hassan Tantai[1]) is an African-American convert to Islam who killed an Iranian critic of Ayatollah Khomeini and fled to Iran.[2][3]



[edit] Bio

Dawud Salahuddin was born David T. Belfield in Roanoke Rapids, NC on November 10, 1950. He is most famous for the alleged murder of Iranian dissident Ali Akbar Tabatabai in Bethesda, MD in 1980.

Salahuddin grew up in Bayshore, Long Island in a Baptist family, and attended Howard University for one semester.

He has said that, as a child the, "most damage done to him," was "an indecency, an insufficiency, certainly a shame not to be white." He became politicized in 1963, while watching news footage from Birmingham, Alabama showing a police chief turn back civil-rights marchers with fire hoses and dogs, which caused him to develop "an implacable hatred toward all symbols of American authority." After graduation from high school, he attended Howard University for one semester. He was attracted to Islam because it is "color-blind" and converted at the age of 18. He frequented an Iranian student center run by Bahram Nahidian. During the early 1970s he spent time visiting prisons around Washington to, "bring the message of Islam to black inmates". He met Said Ramadan in 1975 and Ramadan later became his mentor.

After the murder, he fled from the US and took refuge in Iran.

He currently lives in Iran, is married to an Iranian woman, speaks Persian and works as a freelance writer. In an interview with The New Yorker [4] he admitted to killing Tabatabai. He described the killing as, not "murderous" but as, "an act of war and a religious duty. He said that, "In Islamic religious terms, taking a life is sometimes sanctioned and even highly praised, and I thought that event was just such a time."

He is currently working as an editor for Press TV, the Tehran-based English language international television news channel which is funded by the Iranian government.

[edit] American charges

Salahuddin has admitted to and is charged with assassinating Ali Akbar Tabatabai, a former Iranian diplomat, and supporter of the exiled Shah of Iran, in a suburb of Washington, D.C., in 1980.[3][5]

[edit] Exile

Salahuddin left the USA, and has spent much of the time since then living in Iran. He has occasionally traveled to Arab countries and North Korea, but has been careful not to expose himself to being extradited back to the United States to face charges for homicide.[3][5]

[edit] Film appearances

Salahuddin played a sympathetic major character who aided the heroine of the 2001 film Kandahar. The heroine of the film is a Canadian woman, born in Afghanistan, who slips back into Afghanistan, before the fall of the Taliban in order to try to rescue her sister. During her travels she is befriended by an English speaking medic who turns out to be an exiled American political activist. The heroine of the film really did travel to Afghanistan, in an attempt to rescue her sister. And Salahuddin, an exiled American murderer, plays an exiled American political activist.

In 2006 film-maker Jean-Daniel Lafond released a film entitled American Fugitive: The Truth About Hassan, about Salahuddin. Lafond's film stirred controversy. Some reviewers thought it was too sympathetic to Salahuddin.[6] Other reviewers have expressed the opinion that Lafond should not address controversial topics because he is married to the current Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean.

One review reports that in Lafond's film:[7]

"...even its subject admits his crime means eternal damnation, and it did nothing to advance the cause of blacks in the U.S."

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