WASHINGTON (Aug. 28)
As Louis Farrakhan awaits word from the federal government about whether he will be allowed to accept a $1 billion gift from Libya, the Nation of Islam leader’s leading critics are calling on the Clinton administration to block the transaction.
Farrakhan submitted an application last week to the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department asking for permission to receive $1 billion in humanitarian aid promised to him by Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.
The government must approve any such transaction because of sanctions against Libya. Farrakhan, who was widely criticized for visiting Libya and other rogue states earlier this year, wants an exemption because he says the money would go to help blacks in the United States.
Clinton administration officials have indicated that they are likely to reject Farrakhan’s application, but the Treasury Department has not yet issued a formal response.
The Anti-Defamation League, meanwhile, has urged the administration to deny Farrakhan’s request in accordance with the sanctions against Libya and with the U.S. anti-terrorism law passed this year.
The law makes it a criminal offense for U.S. citizens to engage in financial transactions with governments designated as supporters of international terrorism.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the ADL’s national chairman, David Strassler, and national director, Abraham Foxman, said, “The request in no way warrants special consideration.”
They urged Rubin to “demonstrate the department’s own resolve against terrorist states and their supporters and reject Minister Farrakhan’s request. Allowing this transfer would undermine U.S. anti-terrorism policy and facilitate Libya’s efforts to circumvent U.S. law.”
At the same time, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), one of Farrakhan’s most outspoken critics, has called on the State Department to revoke the Nation of Islam leader’s passport.
“Louis Farrakhan violated numerous U.S. laws during his 1996 `terror tour’ of some of the worst dictatorships on the planet,” King said in a statement.
“He ignored State Department travel bans and showed no regard for sanctions against financial dealings with terrorist nations while cavorting with murderous dictators in Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Nigeria.”
State Department spokesman Glyn Davies would not comment on King’s letter or on whether the State Department was considering revoking Farrakhan’s passport.
Farrakhan, meanwhile, said that if the federal government does not allow him to accept the gift, “I will go across the nation stirring up not only my own people, but all those who would benefit from it.”
“We are not terrorists,” Farrakhan said at a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday. “We are not trying to do anything against the good of America. What we want to do is good for our people and ultimately good for our nation.”
Farrakhan has said he would use the money for voter registration drives, charitable contributions and economic development opportunities for black people.
After the news conference, Farrakhan departed for Libya, where he was scheduled to receive a $250,000 humanitarian award from Gadhafi on Saturday.
That amount is in addition to the $1 billion Gadhafi pledged in February during Farrakhan’s widely publicized “world friendship tour.”
During Farrakhan’s visit to Libya, JANA, the official Libyan news agency, quoted Gadhafi as saying that American blacks should set up their own state within the United States and form the largest black army in the world.
“Our confrontation with America used to be like confronting a fortress from outside,” Gadhafi was quoted as saying. “Today, we have found a loophole to enter the fortress and to confront it from within.”