Sen. Barack Obama with Rev. Jeremiah Wright
JERUSALEM – As pressure mounts on the White House to intervene to stop Moammar Gadhafi’s bloody crackdown in Libya, many commentators have been wondering why Barack Obama has been cautious in his criticism of the dictator after the U.S. president so fervently supported the removal from office of U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.
But Gadhafi has been tied to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s spiritual adviser for more than 23 years.
The Libyan dictator also has financed and strongly supported the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan. Obama has ties to Farrakhan and his controversial group.
So far, White House officials have called for an end to the violence but have seemingly ruled out any unilateral action in Libya. Despite Gadhafi’s reported ordering of massacres that reportedly have killed hundreds of civilians in recent days, Obama hasn’t called on Gadhafi to leave office.
Pressure has been mounting on Obama to take a tougher stand, with the chairmen of the House and Senate foreign relations committees calling on the White House to re-impose economic sanctions on Libya that were lifted in 2004.
But Obama has multiple close ties to activists who have had relationships with Gadhafi.
Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Obama’s longtime Chicago church, went with Farrakhan to visit Gadhafi in 1984.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Wright himself noted the trip could cause problems for Obama.
“When [Obama's] enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli to visit [Gadhafi] with Farrakhan, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.”
Farrakhan, a close friend and associate of Wright, has been financed by Gadhafi, including with a $5 million interest-free loan in 1985.
Later that year, Gadhafi spoke by satellite to Farrakhan’s Saviour’s Day Convention in Chicago, and reportedly told Farrakhan supporters he was prepared to provide weapons to a black army in the U.S. to destroy “white America.”
In October 1995, Gadhafi reportedly called Farrakhan with congratulations on the success of the Million Man March. Gadhafi was said to have assured Farrakhan that together “we will unite our capabilities and efforts to achieve this.”
According to reports in 1996 from Libya’s news agency, JANA, Farrakhan and Gadhafi agreed to work together to mobilize “oppressed blacks, Arabs, Muslims and Red Indians” to help reshape U.S. foreign policy.
Gadhafi said that until his alliance with the Nation of Islam, “our confrontation with America was like a fight against a fortress from outside.”
He asserted his alliance with Farrakhan provides him with “a breach to enter into this fortress and confront it.”
Farrakhan went to Libya for multiple other events. He was the recipient in 1996 of the Gadhafi Human Rights Award, which came with a $250,000 prize. Farrakhan accepted the prize despite U.S. sanctions on Libya.
Obama tied to Nation of Islam
Wright and Obama reportedly attended the Million Man March on Washington, which was led by Farrakhan and other prominent black leaders such as Al Sharpton.
Rev. Willie Barrow, a member of the Obama campaign’s official Faith Outreach Team and an Obama superdelegate, is a close friend of Farrakhan’s and a staunch Nation of Islam supporter.
Farrakhan stated in a 2002 interview he met with Barrow to devise his Nation of Islam platforms.
Marxist activist Cornel West, an adviser to Farrakhan, also had been an adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign and is a close Obama associate and personal friend.
During the period of Obama’s attendance at Wright’s Trinity United Church, which practices controversial Black Liberation Theology ideology, the Chicago church was openly allied with Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
Wright gave Farrakhan his 2007 Empowerment Award. Farrakhan delivered multiple guest lectures at the church.
Wright has been involved in Farrakhan initiatives and labeled him “one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century” during a national address to the media in April at which Nation of Islam officials were invited guests.
Obama has appeared at least three times on the cover of Trumpet magazine, founded by Wright. The magazine, to which Obama last year granted a lengthy, exclusive interview, regularly hails Farrakhan.
Obama’s face was featured on the cover of a 2006 issue of Trumpet alongside Farrakhan’s image.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, a 2004 photo emerged of Obama’s wife, Michelle, posing with Farrakhan and Obama adviser Barrow at a woman’s luncheon for the Rainbow/Push Coalition for which Barrow serves as chairman emeritus.
In the picture with Michelle Obama is Khadijah Farrakhan, Louis Farrakhan’s wife.
Another Obama connection to supporters of Farrakhan comes from David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist.
Although he is Jewish, Axelrod sits on the finance committee of St. Sabina, the Chicago Catholic parish that was led by controversial pastor Michael Pfleger, an outspoken Farrakhan supporter who hosted the Nation of Islam chief at his parish several times.
The Archdiocese of Chicago temporarily removed Pfleger from his duties at St. Sabina in 2008 following a well-publicized guest sermon at Trinity church in which Pfleger claimed Hillary Clinton cried in public because she thought being white entitled her to the Democratic presidential nomination.
Pfleger hosted Farrakhan at his church several times, including one May 2007 sermon that was Farrakhan’s first public appearance since he announced in 2006 he had been suffering from prostate cancer and was seriously ill.
According to reports, Pfleger spent hours with the Nation of Islam chief during his illness. Pfleger previously enlisted Farrakhan’s support for several of his initiatives, including an anti-gun protest in 2007.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott