Published: Fri, March 03, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Seattle Muslim Teen Found Hanging in Tree, Activists Want FBI Review

Seattle Muslim Teen Found Hanging in Tree, Activists Want FBI Review

"Ben was a very happy young man", dad Ibrahimi Keita told KOMO News.

After his family pressed for more information, however, the medical examiner later changed the cause of death to undetermined. On Jan. 9, Officials found that he had been hanged in a wooded area.

Keita, who was reported missing in November, disappeared without his vehicle, wallet or phone. Keita's father said there was no suggestion he had suicidal thoughts.

Initially, the case was ruled a suicide, but the Snohomish County Medical Examiner later changed the classification to undetermined.

The Washington Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the FBI to investigate the man's death, but cautioned against the community rushing to judgment.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also sent a letter to the FBI's Seattle office Monday requesting a federal investigation. "We are aware of the circumstances of the individual's death and will review them with consideration of federal law". If warranted, it may conduct further investigation.

In a January 10 autopsy, the medical examiner determined Keita's cause of death as strangulation, apparently as a result of suicide, Kent Patton, a spokesman for the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's office, said in a telephone interview.

Keita's family appealed to the public to come forward with any answers. The police department said they investigated the case, and closed the case only last week.

Police said that foul play was not suspected.

Ayn Dietrich-Williams, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Seattle Division, confirmed that the agency will review Keita's death. "This is the death of an African-American Muslim male teenager, and historically, we have had deaths in this manner to minorities that were not self-inflicted - it had been inflicted by others".

The Sky Valley Chronicle quoted Seattle Plymouth Congregational Church Rev. Kele Brown saying that, in the past, lynchings were often written off as suicide.

"He was planning to graduate this year from Lake Stevens High School", he continued. "He was already in the running start program going to Everett Community College".

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