Who are Moorish American Arms? Wakefield I-95 standoff group ‘don’t recognize our laws’: Cops
Police said 'during a motor vehicle stop, several heavily armed men claiming to be from a group that does not recognize our laws exited their vehicles and fled into the woodline'
WAKEFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS: The Massachusetts police got into a standoff with several members of an armed group on Friday night, which continued into Saturday morning, July 3, causing a closure of a part of Interstate 95 overnight and a shelter-in-place order for parts of the communities of Wakefield and Reading.
Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason said that the situation unfolded when a trooper spotted two vehicles in the breakdown lane, trying to refuel a vehicle, and stopped to offer assistance around 1:30 am. When the trooper observed the group of eight to 10 men were wearing tactical-style gear and were armed with a combination of rifles and pistols, he asked for their identification. The trooper then called for backup.
'These men should be considered armed and dangerous'
"At some point during this interaction, a number of those individuals alight into the woodline with their firearms. A perimeter was quickly established," Mason said. The Wakefield Police Department wrote in a statement: "No threats were made, but these men should be considered armed and dangerous. We are asking residents in these areas to lock their doors and remain inside their homes. A heavy police presence will be in this area as well." The local police added that "during a motor vehicle stop, several heavily armed men claiming to be from a group that does not recognize our laws exited their vehicles and fled into the woodline" near I-95.
"Approximately 8 males fled into the woods carrying rifles and handguns and appear to be contained in the wooded area adjacent to the highway," the statement added. The state police tweeted on Saturday: "We have several armed persons accounted for at this scene on Rt 95. They are refusing to comply with orders to provide their information and put down their weapons. We are asking residents of Wakefield and Reading to shelter in place at this time."
Two suspects have been arrested by members of @NEMLEC on North Ave, Wakefield. MSP has taken custody of and transported them to one of our barracks. The situation is ongoing w/remaining members of the group. We continue to work to resolve the situation peacefully. https://t.co/1bZWM1vYKS— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) July 3, 2021
Who are the 'Moorish American Arms'?
Although the state and local police have not officially identified the group which is responsible for the partial closure of the interstate, several news outlets have identified them as the 'Moorish American Arms.' According to WCVB, the group, which is also called 'The Rise of The Moors' posted a video on Instagram overnight showing armed members blocking the highway.
From the Moorish American Arms live Instagram feed in Wakefield. They are now blocking Rt 95 in both directions. pic.twitter.com/e8oxzs3vCr— Brett Rudy (@bkrudy) July 3, 2021
The group have a Moroccan flag and claim to be American nationals but not US citizens. They were allegedly headed from Rhode Island to Maine with camping equipment for training. The group’s website lists Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey as the Moorish American Consular Post Head for the organization. According to his biography, he has served in the United States Marine Corps previously. “We’re not anti-government, we’re not anti-police, we’re not sovereign citizens, we’re not Black-identity extremists,” he said during a live-streamed video posted to YouTube Saturday morning, according to Mass Live. “Police seen us on the side of the road with our guns secured. We were afraid so we got with our arms.”
He added that the group was following federal law and hence, should be allowed to travel across state lines with their weapons. The group said they wanted a peaceful ending to the standoff. Two suspects were arrested around 6:45 am. The highway is still closed as negotiations continue.