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Miami-Based Nation of Yahweh Leader Appeals Parole

Yahweh Ben Yahweh, born Hulon Mitchell Jr., appealed to end his parole supervision, citing ill health and imminent death.

Yahweh Ben Yahweh, born Hulon Mitchell Jr. and known as "Grand Master of All, the God of the Universe, the Grand Potentate, the Everlasting Father and the persecuted Messiah" to his followers in the infamous Nation of Yahweh cult, has appealed to end his parole supervision, citing ill health and imminent death.

The cult leader was convicted in 1990 on charges relating to 23 murders linked to the black-supremacist Nation.

Mitchell, now 70, rose to prominence in the 1970s as the charismatic leader of a Miami-based Black Israelite organization. Mitchell founded the Nation of Yahweh on the idea that blacks were God's chosen people, constituting one of the 12 lost tribes of Israel. According to Nation theology, Mitchell is the Messiah sent to vanquish "white devils" and lead blacks to the Promised Land as Moses led the ancient Hebrews out of Egypt.

Combining black supremacism and Old Testament messianism, the Nation of Yahweh was known in its early years mainly for its wacky theories, white-robed adherents, and community revitalization projects in Miami and surrounding Dade County. This relatively benign image was overtaken in the 1980s by investigations into the cult's role in 23 gruesome murders in the Miami area, including the mob slaying of a temple dissident beheaded with a dull machete and the murders of several whites whose ears were hacked off as trophies.

In 1990, Mitchell was convicted of conspiracy in relation to the killings, which included multiple beheadings (one witness was a renegade temple member who was attacked by Mitchell followers who tried to saw through her neck with a knife but failed to complete the job). In a decision aided by dubious rulings from the bench, Mitchell was acquitted of a more serious racketeering charge tying him directly to the murders. He served 11 years of an 18-year sentence and was released on parole in 2001.

As a condition of his parole, Mitchell was forbidden any contact with Nation members, though they still consider him their leader and Messiah.

"He is not a risk of flight. He is not a danger to the community," argued Mitchell's attorney in September. "He is frail and he is dying. It's time for [parole restrictions] to be removed."

Many Black Israelite groups like the Nation of Yahweh practice a theology that is a kind of color-reversed version of the religion of white supremacist Christian Identity groups, which consider Aryans the "true Hebrews" and people of color soulless animals. Neo-Nazi Tom Metzger, leader of White Aryan Resistance, has said of such black supremacist groups, "They're the black counterpart of us."

Although in recent years Nation of Yahweh literature has played down the cult's racism and eliminated calls for violence, the group remains black supremacist and is heavily laced with anti-Semitism.