Antoin “Tony” Rezko
JERUSALEM – Indicted Illinois businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a key fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama, was bailed from jail last week in part with surety posted by a pro-Palestinian activist who penned an open letter in Obama’s church newsletter that labeled Israel an “apartheid” regime and claimed the Jewish state worked on an “ethnic bomb” that kills “blacks and Arabs.”
The open letter by Ali Baghdadi, who served as a Middle East advisor to the Nation of Islam, landed Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ in hot water last month amid multiple other reports of controversial pieces published on the official “Pastor’s Page” reserved for Obama spiritual adviser Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.
Baghdadi was listed among about 30 family members and friends of Rezko who reportedly put up cash or offered properties as surety to secure Rezko’s $8.5 million bail. Baghdadi offered the court a two-story retail property in Chicago.
Baghdadi also appeared at the Chicago federal court on April 18 to state he would be willing to post his home as collateral toward Rezko’s bond. Baghdadi was quoted telling the court he had known Rezko for 20 years through their work with Arab charities.
The move may evince closer links between Baghdadi and Obama’s earlier fundraising circles in which Rezko reportedly played a major role.
Last month, WND reported Obama’s church newsletter published Baghdadi’s piece, titled, “An open letter to Oprah,” referring to talk show giant Oprah Winfrey, who last year accepted an invitation to visit Israel offered to her by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Winfrey had been a member of Obama’s church but reportedly departed in 1986.
“I must tell you that Israel was the closest ally to the white supremacists of South Africa,” wrote Baghdadi. “In fact, South Africa allowed Israel to test its nuclear weapons in the ocean off South Africa. The Israelis were given a blank check: they could test whenever they desired and did not even have to ask permission. Both worked on an ethnic bomb that kills Blacks and Arabs.”
The June 10, 2007, newsletter, which is still available at Obama’s church’s website, identifies Baghdadi as an Arab-American activist, writer and columnist who “acted as a Middle East advisor to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam, as well as Minister Louis Farrakhan.”
Bagdadi’s letter stated Palestinians face “genocide and ethnic cleansing … every hour of the day.”
“For many centuries, Jews escaped the discrimination and death they were subjected to in Europe, and found safety and refuge among us,” writes Baghdadi.
Baghdadi’s letter originally was printed in the Palestine Times, a pro-Palestinian newspaper published in London. It was first noticed in the Obama church newsletter by the Sweetness & Light blog.
RezkoWatch, a blog dedicated to following the links between Rezko and Obama, asked, “Who would have guessed that the same Ali M. Baghdadi who wrote the vile letter published by Obama’s anti-American, hate-spouting pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, would turn out to be a good friend to Tony Rezko, currently on trial in federal court for corruption?
“Who would have guessed that the same Palestinian-American Ali M. Baghdadi, who accompanied Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to Mali in 1997, and served as his Middle East advisor, was only one-degree of separation from Sen. Obama?”
Rezko is on trial in federal court on charges arising from a multimillion-dollar hospital contract scandal. Scores of media reports describe Rezko as an Obama friend and a key campaign fundraiser and networker for the presidential candidate.
At first, Rezko was linked to Obama through two 2005 real estate purchases in which the senator bought a Chicago mansion at less than the asking price on the same day Rezko and his wife, Rita, purchased a lot adjacent to the property. Rita Rezko then sold part of the lot to Obama.
Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times the real estate purchase was “an area where I can see sort of a lapse in judgment, where I could have said, ‘No, I’m not sure that’s a good idea,'”
Later, Obama’s campaign disclosed Rezko provided or raised up to $160,000 in contributions.
Then in interviews last month with two Chicago newspapers, Obama admitted Rezko’s contributions were $250,000, nearly $90,000 more than the campaign previously acknowledged.
The presidential candidate explained the $160,000 figure only represented the total for his 2004 U.S. Senate race. He conceded Rezko also helped raise between $60,000 and $90,000 more for his state senate contests and his unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2000.
Obama’s campaign later released to the Chicago Tribune documents showing Rezko was among 117 people who worked on Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign.
Baghdadi was not the only controversial figure who reportedly posted Rezko’s bail money. The Chicago Sun-Times reported this weekend ex-international fugitive Aiham Alsammarae, a former Iraqi Electricity Minister under the U.S.-backed Iraqi administration, offered homes that comprise nearly one-third of Rezko’s multimillion-dollar bail.
Alsammarae, a dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen who broke out of a Baghdad jail in 2006, has been listed as part of the investigation of widespread charges against Rezko, who owns a firm that won a $50 million contract to train Iraqi power plant security guards. The contract ultimately was not fulfilled.
Rezko has been accused of giving Alsammarae a $1.5 million bribe to secure the Iraqi electric contract.
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