Rap COPINTELPRO XI: The Sniper Shootings, Hip-Hop & The 5 Percent Nation Of Islam

Cedric Muhammad

Cedric Muhammad

I sat in rapt attention last Sunday morning as I saw Meet The Press host Tim Russert work to position Hip-Hop music as a major influence behind the behavior of the alleged sniper in the Washington D.C.- area. Here is the official transcript of that portion of the program (any spelling mistakes/errors are MSNBC’s):

MR. RUSSERT: Now, one of the more interesting things that went on in this case was how the police used the media to try to communicate and develop a dialogue with the alleged snipers. And we’ve gone back and looked at a variety of things as to what influences there may have been on the snipers. This is a CD from a group called Kill Army. It’s named “Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars.” There’s a song called “Wake Up.” “Word is bond this is as real as it’s going to get.” Then here is the letter which they left behind at the shooting in Ashland, Virginia. “Word is bond.” And on Wednesday night, we heard Chief Charles Moose of Montgomery County saying this:

(Videotape, October 23, 2002):

CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE: If you are reluctant to contact us, be assured that we made ready to talk directly with you. Our word is our bond.

(End videotape)

Tim Russert

Tim Russert

MR. RUSSERT: Extraordinary, Dr. Meloy.

DR. MELOY: Yeah. It’s also very interesting from the perspective of the degree to which we see in these cases mimicking of other kinds of cases that have occurred previously or other kind of pop cultural data that will be incorporated by the individual into his killing spree or killing series. This does not mean, of course, that popular culture causes these events, but we do know that influences from violence in the media will account for a small proportion of what we refer to as the variants, a piece of the pie, in individuals that carry out these kinds of acts.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you some more based on exactly what you’re saying and bring everybody else into the conversation. Here are more lyrics from that same album. This is a song called “Five Stars.” “Snipers on the rooftop watch out for the Pitbulls. Waited ’til sunsets and moving like ninjas. …Yo, 5 Star General giving orders.” Here’s the letter, cover sheet, they left behind. The five stars were a symbol or an indication that this was the true sniper sending this letter.

Then we had this left behind. I’ll show you here the lyrics from the same album. “My name is Born God Allah, King of North America,” and the tarot card left behind, “Dear Policemen, I am God.”

Playing out a real fantasy, influenced somewhat by music, and yet in his own mind, woven together and we saw this play out.

www.msnbc.com/news/826747.asp

The exchange got my full attention as I was already fully aware of the effort by many in the media and those above them to position the Honorabale Minister Louis Farrakhan as the inspiration behind the activities of the alleged sniper. Now, I saw more fully the details of the height and depth to which the sniper controversy – from the horrific killings; to the association with the Nation Of Islam of the lead suspect, John Allen Muhammad; to the alleged influence of Hip-Hop; and the repeated visual of the image and account of a Black male committing violence with a firearm – could and was being used by the worst enemies of Black America to justify certain attitudes and policies.

killarmyHaving been General Manager of the multi-platinum group Wu-Tang Clan with whom Killarmy, the group Mr. Russert mentioned, was affiliated, I can, with authority, dismiss the idea that the activities of the alleged sniper are what Killarmy had in mind when they were motivated to record the album Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars. I was there when they recorded the album, knew the young members of the group personally, and at times, conducted business on their behalf as it related to Wu-Tang Clan.

On balance I saw the positive influence of the 5% Nation Of Islam teachings on the members of Killarmy and Wu-Tang, on a daily basis, for nearly 3 years, day-in-day out. Certainly, they, like everyone else I know, have imperfections and fall short of the best of what they preach. I am also of the view that the influence of the 5% Nation on Hip-Hop has been overwhelmingly more positive than negative.

What was really at the root of Mr. Russert’s association between the murders and the lyrics of an underground rap group? Who was it – a producer at NBC, a rap fan, a music industry representative or someone in intelligence or an interest group – that gave Mr. Russert the lyrics to Killarmy’s recordings? What was the motive? Especially since we have not heard as much as a peep directly from John Allen Muhammad or an attorney representing him.

Immediately, while watching the Meet The Press program I realized that the real target was Hip-Hop music but more specifically the influence that the Nation Of Islam and Five Percent Nation Of Islam have had on the music genre, particularly since the mid-1980s. The arrest of John Allen Muhammad in association with the sniper shootings and a public “connection” with rap music is a dream come true for many powerful people, institutions and organizations that have been threatened by the rise of Hip-Hop and how it has been influenced by Minister Farrakhan, the Nation Of Islam and the Five Percent Nation Of Islam.

Who benefits from tying it altogether?

John Allen Muhammad

John Allen Muhammad

I have written about this before. But can’t remember a more direct incident where this was so clearly the case. The trial and investigation of John Allen Muhammad is going to be used to accomplish alot more than a conviction regarding the sniper murders.

In 1997 I visited the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Reading Room at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington D.C. Anyone can do the same today, if they schedule an appointment. I was impressed by the large file that the federal government had on the 5% Nation Of Islam. The files went back over 30 years. I would later take the photocopies I had of some of the files and show them to rap artists and certain influential members of the 5% Nation that I knew personally in Brooklyn and Harlem. I was surprised to see how few of the were aware of the depth of the surveillance that the group was under. At this very moment you can read 132 pages of the FBI’s files on the 5 Percent Nation Of Islam at foia.fbi.gov/5percent.htm.

Interestingly, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has a webpage exclusively dedicated to the 5% Nation Of Islam, under a heading – “Hate On Display: A Visual Database of Extremist Symbols, Logos and Tattoos” You can view it at: www.adl.org/hate_symbols/…enters.asp

Now keep in mind it is hard to argue against the reality that along with Minister Farrakhan, there was no greater “outside” influence, during Hip-Hop’s most “conscious” era, on the lyrics of leading Hip-Hop arists, than the teachings of the 5% Nation. This is the case most obviously in 1987-1988 with popular artists like Rakim and Big Daddy Kane. To varying degrees Lauryn Hill, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, KRS-One, Ice Cube, MC Ren, X-Clan, Queen Latifah, and countless others have been positively influenced by the teachings of both the 5% Nation Of Islam and the Lost-Found Nation Of Islam in the West.

Members of 5% Nation

Members of 5% Nation

But specifically speaking the surveillance that characterized the government’s opinion of the 5 % Nation as a threat thirty years ago (this does not negate the very good relationship that is said to have existed between former New York Mayor John V. Lindsey and members of the 5 Percenters, from 1966 to 1973) has continued and broadened outside of the home base of the 5 Percenters in New York City.

Today, the antagonistic relationship between federal, state and local law enforcement and the 5 Percenters continues with the group officially categorized as a gang in several states. In Massachusetts, Florida and several other states the group is being opposed by special street crimes task units, local police departments and anti-juvenile violence efforts which consider the group to be a negative influence on young people. The official designation of the 5 Percenters as a gang has real affects on the ability of members of the organization to move freely in society and pursue very noble causes.

Look again at Tim Russert’s sudden interest in Hip-Hop music. What is the real motive in linking the alleged sniper, Hip-Hop and the 5% Nation Of Islam, before a predominately White audience of political observers? And who among those who prepared Mr. Russert for last week’s show, determined that Killarmy’s lyrics should be included in the public discussion?

The answer to these questions relates to Minister Farrakhan’s more-than-a vision experience in Mexico in 1985 and his announcement in 1989 that detailed the U.S. government’s planned opposition to the Nation Of Islam, street organizations and Black youth under the guise of what I have referred to as a “cover story.”

Irrespective of the actual guilt and potential conviction of John Allen Muhammad, is the sniper controversy being used to undermine Black culture and organizations and further demonize Black men, in order to accomplish a much larger objective?

Are we thinking about this as clearly as we ought to or have we been distracted from doing so, by design?

www.blackelectorate.com/a…asp?ID=732

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, November 01, 2002

RapCOINTELPRO X : Getting to The Bottom of 2Pac & Biggie

cedricmuhammed2When the Los Angeles Times article came out implying that Biggie was the mastermind behind the murder of Tupac I immediately recognized that some force(s) was attempting to use the murder of both rappers to divide the Black community, in particular, in a manner similar to how the murder of Malcolm X had been used, for over 30 years.

When reading the special two-part series that supposedly places Biggie behind Tupac’s murder, I could not help but go back in my mind to early 1995 when it was announced that the FBI had foiled a murder-for-hire plot. Malcolm X’s daughter, Qabilah Shabazz, had allegedly hired a Jewish hitman to kill Minister Farrakhan. Ridiculous. But designed to get the family, followers and supporters of Malcolm X and those of Minister Farrakhan to fight one another in a way that would leave the Minister dead at the hands of someone Black, not Jewish.

Interestingly, like was the case in the murder of Tupac for 6 years, it took over twenty years before Minister Farrakhan’s name ever came up in the list of those supposedly responsible for the murder of Malcolm.

Who has the power to do that, in both cases?

2pac-BiggieRemember what I included last week of the contents of a letter Lt. Col. Fletcher Prouty, author of the book JFK, wrote to me. He wrote of his covert responsibilities in the U.S. government as well as what was really involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, beyond the murder itself:

“…you will recall that I view the whole assassination process in a much different way than others.

From my experience and point of view the whole thing was an elaborately planned conspiracy to accomplish a Coup d’etat. To do so it was necessary to kill JFK, among other things. This is why there has never been any prosecution or trial for anyone since that crime. A coup d’etat of such dimensions is carefully planned, is the consensus decision of many powerful people, and then the work of pure professionals who are highly skilled.

For such a plan, the most important part is the ‘Cover Story.’ The murder took a bit of deft work and then a terrific load of cover story all the way from Oswald to books and media collaboration and the masterful scenario of the Warren Commission Report. We live with a 30-year old story today.”

Notorious BIG orangeThat after nearly two years of no arrest in his murder, a prominent effort would begin in the Los Angeles Times to pin Biggie’s murder on Suge Knight; and then 3 years later the same would be done to place responsibility for the murder of Tupac into the hands of Biggie, is not an accident but by design, to serve a purpose greater than financial profit or the fulfillment of journalistic responsibility regarding the killing of two celebrities. This is true, in my view, whether the individual reporters whose pen names are on the Los Angeles Times articles, published over the past few years concerning the Biggie and ‘Pac murders, are aware of a greater design or not.

While comedian Chris Rock once made a joke lampooning the idea of speaking of Biggie and Tupac’s murders in terms of political assassinations, I honestly think that the only way for the Black community and Hip-Hop to side-step an obvious effort to use these two murders to foster division and violence is to view the murders of Biggie and Tupac in terms of the assassinations of Malcolm X and even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The only way to get to the top and bottom of both murders is to find out once and for all what the United States government knows about them. Since it is a fact that Death Row and Bad Boy Records and Tupac and Biggie were under FBI, ATF and IRS, NYPD, LAPD and IRS surveillance and/or investigation at the time of both murders; their exist, at this very moment files that have not been made public. Especially in the case of the government agencies involved, these files should be opened. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows anyone – a family member or journalist – to obtain such files. There do exist files and dossiers on both Biggie and Tupac within the federal government. Efforts should be made to obtain the de-classified and still classified files pertaining to Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace.

Dr Betty Shabazz

Dr Betty Shabazz

When the FBI’s ridiculous charge in 1995 that Malcolm’s daughter was the mastermind of a plot to kill Minister Farrakhan became public, it was Malcolm’s wife, Dr. Betty Shabazz who decided that enough was enough and took the initial steps to meet privately with Minister Farrakhan, first in an airport, to discuss what could be done to help her daughter and heal the rift in the Black community that was the result of an unsolved murder that had been used for over 30 years to divide the Black community through innuendo. The Minister offered his assistance in helping to raise money for Malcolm’s daughter’s legal defense telling Dr. Shabazz, “we have to help Bro. Malcolm’s family” and both Minister Farrakhan and Dr. Betty Shabazz agreed that a public demonstration of unity was necessary in order to combat the government and media efforts to divide the Black community over the murder and the real and perceived tensions between the Nation Of Islam and Malcolm’s family, helpers, followers and students. That public demonstration took the form of a public meeting between Betty Shabazz and the Minister in May of 1995 at the historic Apollo theater in Harlem.

I was among those honored to have been present. The energy and electricity surrounding the event was powerful as anyone who was present can attest, and in a significant way, a 30-plus year old wound had begun to heal as a result of the efforts of two parties who placed their personal hurt aside for the benefit of an entire community who in one form or another had been affected due to a personal agreement and the U.S. government’s manipulation of such.

Puff-DaddyIn some way, something similar has to happen where Tupac and Biggie’s murders are concerned, if healing is to take place and manipulation is to be ended. It would be helpful, if Tupac and Biggie’s families and Suge Knight and Sean Combs with the help of their supporters, spiritual leaders, advisers, and East and West Coast artists and music executives, were one day able to put their personal hurt aside and recognize and understand that their pain and emotions are being used to divide whole communities. P. Diddy was present that night in the Apollo when the Minister and Sister Betty began to publicly reconcile. Before, during, and after that Apollo meeting, Minister Farrakhan called for the government to open the files on the assassination of both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. Puffy’s relative public silence on the matter of the Los Angeles Times story on Biggie should be studied. It has had both a positive and negative affect on the situation.

Afeni shakur

Afeni shakur

Among other things, the community should also encourage, and hope and pray that Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur and Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, eventually meet with Dr. King’s late wife, Coretta Scott King, who can be a source of wisdom and strength to them as they navigate not only the pain and grief of loss, but also the possibilities that very powerful individuals in government and without, know more about the murders of Biggie and Tupac than has ever been reported. This may be especially helpful to Biggie’s mother who is persuaded by the work of a White investigator that the LAPD is covering up Biggie’s murder (Afeni Shakur has been clear in her statements that she does not trust the government, local police, or media where her son is concerned). This is bigger than the LAPD. The fact that Biggie and Puffy’s cars, that fateful night in March of 1997, were under surveillance by the ATF, FBI and undercover NYPD; and that members of Biggie’s entourage were shown pictures of cars and individuals who were near them at the time Biggie was shot provides evidence that more than an LAPD cover-up is involved. Coretta Scott King can be an invaluable resource of insight into dealing with the federal government’s knowledge of what happened in September of 1996 in Las Vegas and in Los Angeles in March of 1997.

It is good that both mothers have made at least one dramatic public appearance together, at the MTV music awards. Now, if they are able and willing, more should be asked of them, in order to prevent the wicked designs of those who continue to drop innuendo regarding both murders.

It would also be helpful if the leaders of the sets of Bloods and Crips who find themselves mentioned in connection to these murders could make a similar recognition that their personal disagreements and the entire street organization culture is being used by external forces to not only divide the Black and Hip-Hop communities but to prevent youth from organizing and developing leadership and unity among themselves and broader organizations in the Black and Latino communities. It would be very helpful if someone, through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) could get to the bottom of how many of the gangs in Los Angeles and Chicago, in particular have been manipulated by the government and local police departments into committing acts of violence upon one another. Street organizations should know by now that the federal government and local police department task force and street crime units have placed informants and agents within their ranks to cause problems.

Finally, members of the Hip-Hop journalist community – publishers, editors and reporters – have to move beyond their superficial fascination with the creativity of Hip-Hop artists, their social lives and commercial success and do some hard reporting on serious stories affecting the community and industry.

Police spyTo our knowledge, not a single major Hip-Hop magazine has done a cover story on 1)The fact that the NYPD in 2001 openly admitted that it has the New York Hip-Hop community and industry under surveillance 2) The DEA and Houston Police Department’s investigation, use of informants, and COINTELPRO-like tactics in the investigation against Scarface and Rap-A-Lot Records in 2000 3) The federal investigations – FBI, ATF and IRS pertaining to Tupac, Biggie, Death Row and Bad Boy or the fact that both artists were under surveillance in the general time period or night of their murders.

Finally, as we have written before, people really don’t know what COINTELPRO was all about or to what extent it has been documented that the mainstream media has been used by the government to foment discord, foster the shedding of blood and cover-up its own hand in creating mischief in the Black community. Until people truly understand COINTELPRO and read the files pertaining to it, and make parallels to what happened with Biggie and Tupac, we will never move past what began over six years ago.

www.blackelectorate.com/a…asp?ID=702

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, September 20, 2002