Man Held in Attack on Former Nation of Islam Spokesman Led Splinter Group With AM-Muhammad Shooting, Bjt

SEATTLE (AP) _ The man arrested in the shooting of former Nation of Islam spokesman Khallid Abdul Muhammad was a strong follower of Louis Farrakhan and appeared frequently on public-access television as a preacher of his own variant of Islam.

James Edward Bess, 49, once headed a local branch of the Nation of Islam but was kicked out of the faction three years ago. He also is known as Abdul Haqq Mohammed and went as Brother James X on his Seattle TV shows.

Bess is accused of shooting Muhammad and five others Sunday after Muhammad spoke at the University of California, Riverside. Bess was beaten by a crowd before police dragged him away.

Bess, who is hospitalized with a broken shoulder and other injuries, faces six counts of attempted murder, police said.

In a column in the weekly black community newspaper, The Facts, Bess wrote in 1991 that Farrakahn, the leader of the Nation of Islam, was ''The Second Coming of Jesus,'' that the sect's founder, Elijah Muhammad, was ''a man comparable to THE HOLY GHOST'' and that his son was like Barabbas, the prisoner whom the people wanted freed rather than Jesus.

''It was the hypocritical and corrupt (slime bags) called Black Muslim Ministers of the Nation of Islam who induced the silly, immature followers to choose 'Barabbas' instead of a JUST MAN (JESUS),'' Bess wrote.

Charlie James, who describes himself as a friend of Bess, told TV station KIRO that Muhammad had tried to rein in Bess.

''He took his right to be a minister away from him,'' James said. ''Whether or not this is related to that, I don't know.''

He said he was shocked to hear of the attack because Bess always preached nonviolence.

Bess, a father of eight, was himself a shooting victim in 1988. He was an innocent bystander in a gang shootout and was hospitalized for treatment of chest and rib wounds.

Bess has no arrest record here, police Sgt. Ed Streidinger said.

In an appearance in 1985, Bess denounced the city's School Board and said, ''They ought to be doused with gasoline and burned in public. That's what they need. I would love to see it happen.''

Details of the dispute weren't immediately available.

Syid Suni Askia, a self-described mainstream Muslim who watched Bess' twice-weekly shows, said he wasn't surprised to hear that Bess was accused of shooting Muhammad.

''It's public knowledge that he was at odds with the people'' running the Nation of Islam, he said.

In a column entitled ''Prophecy Fulfilled At Last,'' in the Oct. 2, 1991 edition of The Facts, Bess wrote that Elijah Muhammad was the subject of a death plot ''which was hatched by the American Government,'' the Vatican, communism, Jews ''excluding an honorable few who awaits the 'MESSIAH.'''

''Also, the tentacles of the 'Death PLOT' reached into The Nation Of Islam,'' he wrote.

In the same issue, Bess was attacked in a letter signed only Jamaatul Ikhlas, translated as ''Community for Purity in worship,'' for a previous column in which he was accused of making an unnecessary public defamation of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, who took over the Nation of Islam when his father, Elijah Muhammad, died in 1975.

Askia said Bess was responsible for resurrecting the sect in Seattle, but that his preaching style had changed over the years.

''He had his own, self-styled ministry,'' Askia said.

He said he didn't know details of the split. There were no telephone listings in Seattle for the Nation of Islam or for its temple.

Sister Kazuko X, who appeared on some of Bess' shows, said she had no comment.

Bess' broadcasts were advertised in The Facts under the heading ''Hear and See, Min. Farrakhan, a Living Witness of 'Jesus.'''

Topics for Bess' recent shows included ''Farrakhan: The Special Spokesman,'' ''Farrakhan: The Torchlight for America,'' ''Farrakhan: 'God's Man on the Straight Path''' and ''Farrakhan Speaks.''