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Amid the morbid atmosphere that overshadows the future of his Million Youth March, Khallid Abdul Muhammad may soon be branded one of the most dangerous black leaders in America. The reputed soul of the new black power movement,which is behind the controversial march scheduled for September 5 in Harlem, is being investigated by the Joint Terrorist Task Force, both law-enforcement sources and Muhammad have confirmed.
The task force, which is made up of federal and state law enforcement agencies, investigated attacks such as the bombings of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center.
Intelligence sources within the Dallas Police Department also told the Voice that the department formed its own task force, whichshadowed Muhammad when he twice led armed members of the recently unified New Black Panther Party and New Black Muslim Movement into Jasper to protest the white supremacist murder of a black man two months ago. The sources acknowledged that both agencies arelooking into how Muhammad--former supreme captain of the Nation of Islam's elite paramilitary wing--was able to get past local authorities in Dallas, where his "kill army" is based, and march into Jasper with loaded shotguns and other sophisticated weapons.
The sources added that the task forces are trying to determine whether Muhammad's group is associated with other "suspect black militia cells" across the country and has been involved in planning terrorist activities. The Panther and Muslim group is headed by Muhammad, whose title is supreme captain. Aaron Michaels is minister of defense, Quannel X, minister of information, and Malik Z. Shabazz is the group's attorney. Although Dallas undercover cops refer to the leadership of the group as "Lethal Weapon 4," the investigation focuses on Muhammad and Michaels.
"We were told to be very careful because the task force has been gathering intelligence on us," says Muhammad, who is traveling in Africa to promote the Million Youth March. "I am disappointed that they are just discovering me," he added. "I thought all this time the devil considered me a terror to his reign and his rule. What took him so long?"
The Joint Terrorist Task Force of the New York Police Department and the FBIalsohas been on heightened alert since Muhammad announced last fall that he intended to assemble a million young blacks for a rally, according to the sources, who added that the Dallas Police Department's task force has been cooperating with police commissioner Howard Safir. More than 100 NYPD detectives are assigned to various joint efforts with federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Locally, the task force has been monitoring the activities of the New York City Black Power Committee, the clearinghouse for information about the march.(Marilyn Mode, the NYPD's chief spokesperson, declined comment.) Muhammad is the leader of the committee, which is made up of members of the December 12th Movement, a Brooklyn-based Marxist-Leninist organization composed of former members of the New York 8.
In 1984, federal authorities charged the New York 8 with racketeering, conspiring to commit murder, kidnapping, arson, bank holdups, armored-car robberies, and bombings to free two revolutionaries convicted in the1981 robbery in which a Brink's guard and two Nyack police officers were killed. They were acquitted on all charges.
In 1989, the radicals helped to organize a "Day of Outrage and Mourning"--arising out of the slaying of Yusuf Hawkins in Bensonhurst by a white mob--that shut down subways and the Brooklyn Bridge. More than 40 cops were hurt in a confrontation that day with about 10,000 black demonstrators.
Revelation of the federal investigation comes in the wake of a barrage of repudiations, condemnations, and criticism by city officials, key black elected officials, and community leaders over Muhammad's leadership of the march. It began with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who apparently went on the offensive after the city failed to convince Muhammad to change the date to September 19 and relocate the march to Randall's Island or Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
City officials argued that September 5 is just two days before the mammoth West Indian carnival in Brooklyn, which requires large police details. They say two big events over the Labor Day weekend would strain police resources.
Muhammad refused to push the march back, arguing that it had already been advertised for the 5th. Giuliani then labeled the event a "hate march" and said many people in Harlem don't want the march to take place in their neighborhood. He claimed that residents are afraid to speak out for fear of retribution from march supporters.
Among the first blacks to break that alleged silence was Harlem congressman Charles Rangel. "I think it's a very bad idea that someone like . . . Muhammad would be taking advantage of the frustrations of our teenagers to have a march without any agenda and without any goals," Rangel said. "It's clear to me that Khallid Muhammad wants to have a confrontation. When it's over, no one would know where to find Khallid Muhammad."
Perhaps the most shocking discord over the march has come from the United African Movement, the city's largest black ultranationalist organization, led by Alton Maddox, the outspoken attorney for Tawana Brawley. Maddox stood behind Muhammad after Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan fired him in 1994 for making a racist and anti-Semitic speech at Kean College in New Jersey. Maddox offered the fallen national spokesman a platform for his acerbic rhetoric.