Nation of Islam's Farrakhan says Muhammad is a member

Seattle Times/October 27, 2002
By Hal Bernton and David Heath

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan acknowledged yesterday that suspected sniper John Allen Muhammad is a member of his Chicago-based group.

Farrakhan said the man charged in a series of shootings that left 10 people dead and three wounded would be ousted from the group if he is convicted of the crimes.

One of the sniper's victims was Ken Bridges, an African American affiliated with a Nation of Islam economic-development program.

Muhammad's involvement with the Nation of Islam was reported last week by The Seattle Times, which said that Muhammad had provided security at the Million Man March, a 1995 event organized by Farrakhan in Washington, D.C.

Farrakhan said that Muhammad did not provide official security at the event under the name Muhammad.

The Nation of Islam is considered outside the mainstream of the Muslim world. Farrakhan often has been accused of being racist and anti-Semitic but in recent years has sought to moderate those views and reach out to a broader constituency.

Many details of John Muhammad's involvement with the Nation of Islam are still unclear.

Farrakhan, in his press conference, said that Muhammad has been a member since 1997 but that he had not been in contact with the group since 1999, when he was involved in a domestic dispute with his wife, also a member of the group.

An affidavit filed by Muhammad's first wife indicates that Muhammad was a member of a Nation of Islam group in Seattle at least as far back as 1995.

Another court statement filed by a family friend, Anthony Muhammad, indicated the two of them attended "the Mosque" perhaps as early as 1992.

The Seattle-area Nation of Islam has met in an old firehouse used by the Central Area Motivation Program, a community action group that fights poverty. In a recent court document, the Nation of Islam group referred to the firehouse address as their "mosque."

Rick Dupree, CAMP's interim executive director, said the Nation of Islam schedules about four meetings a week of small study groups, typically 15 to 20 people. He said CAMP has a good relationship with the Nation of Islam, which has helped out in food basket giveaways and other community projects.

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