By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In an upcoming biography of black power advocate Kwame Ture, Eric T. Muhammad claims that on his deathbed Ture confessed to knowing about a black separatist cult that slaughtered white men and filled whiskey bottles with their blood to avenge assassinations and brutal beatings of civil rights leaders during the 1960s.
Several of the sacrificial slayings, according to Muhammad a researcher for the Nation of Islam's The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews occurred at the height of the civil rights struggle in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina.
Ture died of prostate cancer last November at age 57 in his adopted homeland of Guinea, West Africa.
Revelation of the so-called "Black Belt Whiskey Murders" comes on the heels of the arrest last month in New Jersey of John Armstrong, a member of the black separatist cult Yahweh ben Yahweh. The group's leader, Yahweh ben Yahweh, is serving an 18-year federal prison sentence in Florida for ordering the murders of 14 white vagrants and disobedient black disciples. He allegedly urged followers to "kill me a white devil and bring me an ear." And authorities say the group is responsible for 25 deaths across the country since the 1980s.
An indictment in Essex County charges that Attilio Cicala, a homeless white man murdered 15 years ago in what appeared to be a street crime, was actually sacrificed by the cult, which believes blacks are the true Jews. Armstrong, who also uses the name Yokonon Israel, allegedly stabbed Cicala repeatedly in the chest and abdomen in the early morning on July 3, 1984, about a block from the group's former Newark temple on South Orange Avenue a few days before ben Yahweh visited the city.
Armstrong's arrest rekindled waning interest in the racial philosophy of Yahweh ben Yahweh and other black separatist groups, such as the Nation of Islam, the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, and the Black Israelites all of which maintain a strong presence in New York City.
Long-dormant myths about vicious rapes, beheadings, bloodsucking, and other gruesome mutilations supposedly committed by these groups have been resuscitated in discussions among law-enforcement authorities here. Sources say NYPD brass are concerned about the populist appeal of black supremacist standard-bearers like Khallid Abdul Muhammad, who they claim entice young blacks to murder cops.
All remember the wave of random street killings that terrorized San Francisco in 1973. The "Zebra killers" struck without warning, murdering whites at night. Most victims were shot. One was raped, another beheaded. Four young black Muslims were arrested in 1974 and charged with 14 murders, seven assaults, one rape, and an attempted kidnapping. The Zebra killers were convicted in 1976.
In his unfinished biography (As Africa Is My Mother: From Stokely Carmichael to Kwame Ture), Eric Muhammad writes that Ture believed that the disappearance of several white sheriff's deputies in Nashville at the dawn of the '60s was linked to "a band of Nat Turner-type black youths." These avengers emerged at the epicenter of the nonviolent civil rights movement and killed the deputies to send a message to die-hard segregationists. The murders were covered up by the FBI, which had embarked on a campaign to discredit the major civil rights and black power organizations, Ture told Muhammad.
The "black hit men of these racist assassins" allegedly were based in Lowndes County, Alabama. According to the myth, the young blacks, who agonized over how painful it was to watch white murderers go free, went on drinking binges prior to committing the murders. "Kwame said they got together shortly before midnight, drank several bottles of whiskey, then lined up the empty bottles on a wall," says Muhammad, who is also a top aide to NOI leader Louis Farrakhan. "He said that if they drank 10 bottles that's how many they would fill with white men's blood."
Ture reportedly told Muhammad the killings continued during the Freedom Rides, when blacks were beaten and imprisoned; after the murder of Medgar Evers in Mississippi in June 1963; the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham four months later that killed four black girls; the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965; the "Bloody Sunday" attack by Alabama state troopers at Selma that same year; and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968.
"All these atrocious attacks took a tremendous toll on these young Nat Turners," Muhammad says. "They just couldn't understand that every time they went to church on Sunday the preacher would tell them, 'It's gonna be all right, we shall overcome' and by Monday morning that same church is dynamited and the preacher is threatened with a lynching. They had a real problem with that, according to Kwame."
Muhammad says that Ture, who in the '60s was the leader of a militant arm of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, "half- believed" the stories about the "Whiskey Murders" but used them as weapons anyway in his psychological warfare against white supremacists and the FBI. "After these stories were told to him, he found a way to help propagandize them so that they could be palatable to blacks," Muhammad says. "Ture wanted to encourage helpless blacks to make a stand against the white man's aggression, to make blacks feel that they weren't alone that somebody out there was sensitive to their anger."