While Jesse Jackson Sr. was condemning U.S. airstrikes against Libya, an old friend and former employee of his from Chicago was conspiring with Libyan agents to terrorize the U.S.
The 1986 plot, foiled by federal agents, is known. Less known is Jackson’s close ties to its mastermind, convict Jeff Fort – a relationship detailed in an explosive new book, “Shakedown: Exposing the real Jesse Jackson.”
From behind the walls of a federal prison in Texas, Fort from March to October 1986 plotted terrorist acts against the U.S. with members of his Chicago-based Muslim street gang and the Libyan government. U.S. forces pounded targets in the Libyan capital of Tripoli in April 1986.
The scheme involved buying machine guns, silencers, hand grenades and M-72 Series Light Anti-tank Weapons, known as LAW rockets, to destroy federal vehicles and buildings and even shoot down a commercial jetliner, according to a federal indictment.
Fort, former leader of the El Rukn (Arabic for “the foundation”) gang, directed the operation using prison phones. “The Imam,” as gang members called him, contacted Libyan officials seeking U.S. terror targets and money.
FBI agents intercepted Fort’s phone calls, broke El Rukn code language (Chicago was “Mecca”; Milwaukee, “Medina,” for example) and unveiled the plot from inside the prison, where Fort was serving time for drug and weapons crimes. He and Chicago gang members were convicted in the terror conspiracy.
The story might end there. But Fort’s name turns up again and again in the “Shakedown” expos?, which documents how Jackson enlisted his old pal to deploy El Rukn thugs to scare Chicago businesses he boycotted.
Against the backdrop of Sept. 11, details of Jackson’s close and long-standing ties to an Islamic terrorist are especially alarming. And they may explain Jackson’s reluctance to condemn Islamic militants for last year’s terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Jackson has criticized America’s bombing of Afghanistan and has demanded the U.S. government produce more evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the Sept. 11 strikes. Early on, he sympathized with Muslim clerics in Afghanistan and even tried to work out a deal with Taliban leaders.
Is the two-time presidential candidate in league with Islamic terrorists? You be the judge:
- Jackson and Fort “had become friends” and “worked closely together” in the ’60s and ’70s, “Shakedown” author Kenneth Timmerman writes, quoting retired Chicago police detective Richard Kolovitz.
- Timmerman says Jackson, in an exclusive December interview, admitted using El Rukn hoods to picket Chicago stores, but maintained they weren’t part of any shakedown.
- Jackson introduced his half-brother, murder convict Noah Robinson, to Fort, not the other way around, as has been reported. “It was Jesse who had the gang connections,” a Chicago investigator says in the book.
- Jackson and Fort were photographed together in the late ’60s. The rare shot, published in the book, shows Jackson sitting at the feet of a militant-looking Fort.
- Fort once worked for Jackson at his non-profit Operation PUSH foundation, according to Gail Sheehy’s 1988 Vanity Fair expos? of the then-presidential candidate. His half-brother, Noah, employed El Rukn thugs in his cocaine and heroin empire before the feds busted him. He even hired one to kill a former business partner. (Jackson lobbied former President Clinton to commute his brother’s sentence on murder and racketeering charges, but Clinton declined in a rare refusal.)
- Jackson claims he severed ties with Fort once he was imprisoned in the early ’70s. But a federal investigator told Timmerman that Jackson last decade hired “known Rukns,” including “a Rukn general,” to picket a Chicago museum that fired a black contractor.
- In 1979, after Jackson met with Libyan Embassy officials at PUSH headquarters, a Libyan diplomat gave PUSH $10,000. The donation triggered a Justice Department probe “as to whether Jackson was required to register as a Libyan agent,” Timmerman said. (After Jackson embraced PLO leader Yasser Arafat that year, calling for the creation of a Palestinian state, the Arab League and Syria, a terrorist state, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to PUSH and PUSH-Excel.)
- In March 1984, “Nation of Islam” leader Louis Farrakhan publicly endorsed Jackson for president. The anti-Semitic Farrakhan also provided Jackson physical security during his campaign, Sheehy reported in her magazine article. (Jackson has referred to Jews as “hymies” and said he was “sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust.”)
- In May 1984, Farrakhan met with Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, Timmerman notes. Gadhafi earlier had loaned Farrakhan $3 million to build his Chicago mosque, which is within blocks of Jackson’s home.
- In 1986, Jackson condemned the U.S. bombing of Libya in retaliation for Gadhafi’s bombing of a West Berlin disco that killed a U.S. serviceman.
- But Jackson has not condemned bin Laden or Islamic militants for the Sept. 11 attacks on America. “Jackson had no words of condemnation for the terrorists,” at a Sept. 15 gathering at PUSH headquarters in Chicago, Timmerman said. Instead, Muslim clerics invited by Jackson “sounded an indictment of America” and “offered Koranic prayers in Arabic.” Jackson warned Americans against “scapegoating” Arabs and Muslims.
- “Islam does not teach terrorism,” Jackson wrote in a Sept. 16 syndicated column. He cautioned against hitting Afghanistan.
- In a Sept. 22 press conference, Jackson warned President Bush to “choose strong diplomacy over indiscriminate bombing.” He asserted that “religious leaders in Afghanistan can be strategic allies.”
- Appearing to excuse terrorism, Jackson said on Sept. 30, “Sometimes it is the desperation of the suffering using violent tactics in attempts to destabilize the status quo.” He added: “It may be the voices of the unheard.”
- In the same Sept. 30 press release, written by Rainbow PUSH Coalition aide Nizam Arim, Jackson suggested America might have had it coming. “Sometimes terrorism is fed by the greed of the oppressors,” he said.
- As for taking out bin Laden, Jackson sided with the Taliban in demanding the U.S. show its evidence linking him to the attacks. “They said show us the evidence,” he said. “All of our allies will require the evidence.”
- In the same statement, Jackson praised Gadhafi for turning over suspects in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing “to an international process” and urged the Taliban to do the same. He claimed that the Taliban sent him “two invitations” to meet in Pakistan to negotiate terms with the U.S. But the Taliban said Jackson solicited them.
Also disturbing is the lack of patriotism shown by Jackson and his family after the attacks.
Four days after the Sept. 11 slaughter by Islamic terrorists, there were no American flags at PUSH headquarters in Chicago, or at Jackson’s home, as observed by Timmerman.
“No flags, no red-white-and-blue ribbons, no sign of mourning,” he noted in his book.
Amazingly, no flags flew at the Chicago house of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., either, he said.
Repeated phone calls to the Jacksons’ spokespeople in Chicago, New York and Washington were not returned.