- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A man linked to a black Muslim group was among two men who turned themselves in to police yesterday in connection with vandalizing a pair of stores for selling alcohol to blacks, police said.

Investigators said it was too soon to say whether the suspected vandals were connected to Monday’s fire and kidnapping of a clerk at the same store ransacked by a gang of black men in suits and bow ties three days earlier.

Yusef Bey IV, 19, and Donald Cunningham, 73, surrendered to face charges including robbery, felony vandalism and terrorist threats, Oakland Deputy Police Chief Howard Jordan said. Police obtained warrants charging four others with similar crimes and expected to make arrests.

Investigators were looking into the vandalism as hate crimes because the store owners are of Middle Eastern background and are Muslims, Deputy Chief Jordan said.

No arrests have been made in the kidnapping or the fire. Store employee Abdel Hamdan was found safe in the trunk of a car Monday, about 12 hours after the fire, which destroyed the store’s merchandise and caused major structural damage to the building, police said.

“We’re very happy that he came back safe,” said Frank Hernen, manager of New York Market. “We don’t want this to go further.”

Last week, the New York Market and the nearby San Pablo Liquor store were vandalized by about a dozen men who smashed liquor bottles and toppled food racks while demanding that both stores stop selling alcohol to black people, authorities said. The incident at San Pablo Liquor was caught on surveillance tape.

Suspicion immediately fell on the Nation of Islam, a group of black Muslims whose members often wear suits and bow ties. However, Deputy Chief Jordan said the suspects are not members of the Nation of Islam. He held out the possibility that they belong to a separate black Muslim group based in Oakland.

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