Commentary Magazine


Financing Farrakhan

To the Editor:

Arch Puddington’s article, “Black Anti-Semitism & How It Grows” [April], offers perceptive insights into the susceptibility of certain black audiences to the recent outpouring of anti-Semitic propaganda. But the author makes no mention of the financial and other kinds of support Louis Farrakhan and others receive from radical Islamist governments and agencies for the specific purpose of conducting anti-Jewish campaigns.

This support provides an incentive to peddle anti-Jewish hate; for those hooked-in to this international network, anti-Semitism pays, and pays well—in power, influence, and cash.

Farrakhan has political, financial, and other ties to the regimes of Libya, Iran, Syria, and Sudan. Initially, he made no secret of them. In 1984, he visited Libya concurrently with Iranian leaders who promptly announced the formation of an international committee for the “defense of American blacks” and, a few months later, an “Islamic Movements Office” for propagandizing American blacks. In February 1985, via a special satellite hookup, Libya’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, addressed the annual conference of the Nation of Islam in Chicago and was introduced by Farrakhan as “a fellow struggler in the cause of liberation of our people, . . . a man the world does not understand.” Soon after, Farrakhan announced the receipt of an interest-free “loan” of $5 million from Qaddafi.

Since then, much more has flowed to him from radical Islamist governments and organizations willing to overlook the eccentricities of his version of Islam so long as he continues to advance his vicious anti-Jewish campaign.

This information is neither secret nor speculative. Some of it has appeared in the press—the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Amsterdam News, the Chicago Tribune—and in an Anti-Defamation-League report. Many details can be found in the recent book, Target America, by Yossef Bodansky, who directs the House Task Force on Terrorism. Recently, Farrakhan has become more circumspect about revealing his ties to the regimes that sponsor terrorism aimed at America and Israel, perhaps because his backers have been implicated in the World Trade Center bombing. Thus, he attempted to keep secret his visit as an official guest earlier this year to Sudan, a regime accused of involvement in the second Manhattan terrorist plot. But more than enough is already public to make the connections clear.

Yet when Farrakhan openly visits the radical Islamist states to meet with their rulers—as he has done repeatedly—the press reports his travels without comment; when he is interviewed, the question of his connections is not raised.

A black reporter who exposed some of his operations a few years ago was threatened with death. In April 1986, when Farrakhan went to Libya again, in violation of U.S. law, his aide Khalid Abdul Muhammad (of Kean College fame) threatened to “kill whites in the streets” if he was prosecuted for it. Such threats—backed by strong-arm squads, some of them trained in the Middle East—may explain, at least in part, the failure of responsible black leaders and the press to denounce Farrakhan, let alone even hint at his connections with radical Islamist regimes.

Intimidation does not, of course, explain the enthusiasm with which his message of hate is received by some. But whatever domestic factors may play into the hands of those seeking to fan hatred, no serious attempt to come to grips with the problem can afford to overlook the fact that the current anti-Semitic campaign did not erupt accidentally or spontaneously—or to ignore what lies behind it.

Rosanne Klass
New York City

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