Some American Black Muslims are making common cause with domestic neo-Nazis and foreign Muslim extremists.
In 1961, Elijah Muhammad, founder of the black supremacist Nation of Islam, met with Ku Klux Klan leaders at the Magnolia Hall in Atlanta. Although they had different ideas about the skin color of the master race, they shared the belief that blacks and whites should stay separate.
The following year, Muhammad invited American Nazi Party chief George Lincoln Rockwell to address a Nation convention in Chicago, even though Rockwell had often called blacks "the lowest scum of humanity."
Flanked by a dozen storm troopers in swastika armbands, Rockwell told an audience of 5,000 Nation devotees that he was "proud to stand here before black men. ... Elijah Muhammad is the Adolf Hitler of the black man."
Sporadic contacts between Black Muslims and white supremacists continued after Louis Farrakhan set up his own branch of the Nation of Islam in 1975.
Klan leader Tom Metzger was so impressed with Farrakhan's anti-Semitic bombast that he donated $100 to the Nation after a Farrakhan rally in Los Angeles in September 1985. A month later, Metzger and 200 other white supremacists from the United States and Canada gathered on a farm about 50 miles west of Detroit, where they pledged their support for the Nation of Islam.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," explained Art Jones, a neo-Nazi militant from Chicago. "I salute Louis Farrakhan and anyone else who stands up against the Jews."
The Nation's contacts with non-black extremists has not been limited to domestic neo-Nazis and Klansmen. During his international travels, Farrakhan has been officially welcomed in a number of countries, including several repressive Arab states.
The Final Call, Farrakhan's newspaper, describes one such globetrotting expedition in 1986, when he visited Libya for discussions with Col. Muammar Ghaddafi, who had given Farrakhan a $5 million interest-free loan the previous year.
After Libya, Farrakhan ventured to Jeddah, where he conferred with top Saudi Arabian officials before paying a courtesy call to Idi Amin, the exiled Ugandan despot.
Farrakhan was also warmly received by General Zia-ul-Huq, the military dictator of Pakistan, whose abysmal human rights record coincided with efforts to impose a harsh Islamic fundamentalist regime in his country.
An American Takes Up the Cause
During the 1980s, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan played a crucial role in supporting the U.S.-backed mujahedeen resistance forces that were fighting to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan.
Islamic volunteers from all over the world flocked to mujahedeen training camps in Pakistan to help win this holy war against godless Communism.
They were joined by scores of combatants from the United States, including Clement Rodney Hampton-El, an American Black Muslim unaffiliated with the Nation, who suffered arm and leg wounds in Afghanistan.
After returning to Brooklyn, Hampton-El worked closely with a shadowy splinter group called al-Fuqra, whose followers in the United States and Canada are predominantly Black Muslims. Several other al-Fuqra initiates had also trained in Pakistan as part of the effort to throw the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
Founded in 1980 by a Pakistani mystic named Shiek Mubarik Ali Jilani, al-Fuqra was organized into independent terrorist cells. An avowed enemy of the Nation of Islam, al-Fuqra has been linked by U.S. officials to 17 homicides and 13 firebombings in the United States. Its targets were usually other minorities or rival Muslim leaders.
In 1995, Hampton-El was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his involvement in a failed plot to bomb the United Nations and other New York City landmarks.
Nine other Muslim extremists were convicted as co-conspirators in this case, including Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric, who is serving a life sentence for his role as ringleader of the plot. The blind sheik has also been linked to the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000.
Hampton-El told an FBI informant that he had participated in a test explosion for the first attack on the World Trade Center.
According to recent reports, the Justice Department is probing possible links between al-Fuqra and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
American officials have obtained a videotape of a December 1993 meeting in Sudan, then a nerve center for the bin Laden organization, where al-Fuqra leader Shiek Mubarik Ali Jilani met with members of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups.
Representatives of al-Qaeda are also believed to have been present at this meeting. Federal officials also believe that al-Fuqra members collaborated with Wadih El-Hage, who was sentenced to life in prison this year for conspiring with Osama bin Laden in the bombings of two American embassies in Africa in 1998.