The Louis Farrakhan 1996 world tour continues to showcase the Nation of Islam leader’s uncanny ability to infuriate and baffle his critics.
As Farrakhan punctuates his travels with references to the United States as the “Great Satan,” federal law enforcement officials continue to investigate whether he violated any laws in his visits to Iraq, Iran and Libya, where economic sanctions apply.
Farrakhan met last week with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, and the likened the plight of the Iraqi people to the horrors Jews endured in Nazi death camps.
After visiting a hospital, Farrakhan called U.S. economic sanctions against Iraq a “crime against humanity” that is leading to the “mass murder of the Iraqi people.”
“Visiting the hospital,” Farrakhan was quoted as saying, “would be, or could be, compared to visiting one of the [Nazi] death camps.”
The black nationalist Muslim has crisscrossed Africa and the Middle East during the past month on what he described as a “world friendship” tour to show solidarity with Muslims.
His meetings with various foreign leaders – which reads like a Who’s Who list of international terrorism sponsors – has been sharply condemned by U.S. officials, as well as Jewish groups.
State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns castigated Farrakhan last week for “cavorting with dictators,” denouncing his recent remarks as “shameful.”
The Anti-Defamation League in a recent statement said Farrakhan’s embrace of America’s avowed enemies “shoots a torpedo into the notion that Louis Farrakhan is pursuing a course of moderation.”
Earlier in the week, an Iranian newspaper quoted Farrakhan as saying, “You can quote me: God will destroy America at the hands of Muslims,” then adding, “We do not seek the fall of the U.S. government but are looking for ways to moderate the unjust policies of the American government.”
His stopovers have included Sudan as well as Libya, where leader Muammar Gadhafi pledged $1 billion to Farrakhan to finance political activities in the United States.
He also held meetings in Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey and Syria, where he met for three hours with Syrian President Hafez Assad just 10 days before Israeli- Syrian peace talks were set to resume at the Wye Plantation in Maryland.
Farrakhan’s exploits have been challenged on a number of legal fronts.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sent Farrakhan a letter asking whether he illegally spent money in restricted nations or accepted money for political purposes from countries under U.S. economic sanctions.
In addition, the Justice Department sent Farrakhan a letter informing him that he must register as a foreign agent for Libya if he engages in activities to influence U.S. policies or politics on that country’s behalf.
Meanwhile, his most outspoken critic in Congress, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), has been calling for congressional hearings into his activities abroad and has said Farrakhan would be subpoenaed if necessary.
“Louis Farrakhan has been paying courtesy calls to the most murderous regimes on the face of the earth,” King said in a statement. “Any American citizen who consorts with the sworn enemies of the United States and seeks their financial backing must be held fully accountable for their actions.”
But Congress remains reluctant to call Farrakhan to testify, fearful of becoming entangled in what would likely be a racially divisive hearing, according to congressional sources.
Farrakhan, in his defense, reportedly told Tehran University students, “I am a free black and do not allow anyone to tell me where to go and where not to go, who to meet or not to meet.”
Nation of Islam officials would not comment on Farrakhan’s foreign trip.
An assistant to Farrakhan, however, said the Nation of Islam leader is likely to address the issue during his annual Saviour’s Day speech Feb. 25 in Chicago.