Emotional Farrakhan Denounces Government, Defends Malcolm X’s Daughter
CHICAGO (AP) _ An emotional Louis Farrakhan broke his silence about an alleged plan to kill him, denouncing the government and defending the woman accused of plotting his death.
Farrakhan also suggested that the federal indictment against Qubilah Shabazz, Malcolm X’s daughter, was an attempt to discredit him among blacks by reviving speculation he was involved in Malcolm X’s assassination 30 years ago.
``The old, false, filthy propaganda campaign has been dug up, dusted off and redirected, this time against Louis Farrakhan,″ the Nation of Islam leader said Tuesday to cheers and applause from a mosque jammed with his supporters.
``The U.S. government is frustrated because there’s no basis to bring me into a court of law, to try me on charges of Malcolm’s murder,″ Farrakhan said, suggesting that the indictment was a first step towards prosecuting him as well.
Ms. Shabazz was scheduled to appear in federal court today in St. Paul, Minn. Her lawyer, William Kunstler, said she would plead innocent.
If convicted, she faces up to 90 years in prison and $2.25 million in fines.
The government has not named the witness who Ms. Shabazz allegedly asked to kill Farrakhan, but he has been identified in published reports as Michael Fitzpatrick, a longtime government informant.
Authorities claim Ms. Shabazz had telephone conversations with Fitzpatrick about the murder plot and made a partial payment. Critics say Ms. Shabazz was set up.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported today that an undercover videotape indicates Shabazz raised objections to Fitzpatrick’s plan and was worried others would be hurt.
``He talks at length and she listens. She’s not pleased. She’s coming up with objections, reasons why he shouldn’t do it,″ the newspaper quoted an unnamed federal official.
Two other unnamed officials told the Star Tribune that the tapes do not show that Shabazz helped plan a hit on Farrakhan.
``I think what we will find out from this bizarre case is that there was set in motion a plan to cause the assassination, if possible, of Louis Farrakhan, but it was a plan set by the bureau, the FBI, and not by this defendant,″ Kunstler said.
Farrakhan agreed that Ms. Shabazz was entrapped and he said he hoped she would not be convicted.
He said that in Ms. Shabazz’s grief over her father’s assassination, ``it is easy to send a trained set-up artist to manipulate her emotions in a diabolical scheme.″
The session Tuesday night in the Nation of Islam national headquarters, Mosque Maryam, was billed as a news conference, but for most of the time Farrakhan spoke from a pulpit in tones that resembled a sermon.
He answered a few questions at the close of the meeting while flanked by Chicago black activists and the Rev. Benjamin Chavis, ousted executive director of the NAACP.
In a voice overflowing with emotion, Farrakhan said he was being tried ``in the court of public opinion by the same propagandists masquerading as journalists who are setting the stage for my incarceration or assassination.″
He reasserted his innocence in the murder of Malcolm X, who was gunned down before a crowd of spectators in New York City in 1965. Ms. Shabazz, who was 4 at the time, witnessed the killing.
Three Muslims were convicted of the murder, but Malcolm’s widow, Betty Shabazz, has said she believes Farrakhan was involved.
Farrakhan was a follower of Malcolm X, but later struggled against him to head the Nation of Islam.
``I was never a rival of Malcolm X,″ Farrakhan said. ``Malcolm was my mentor and my teacher, and I never considered myself his rival.″