Michael Jackson's Contact with the Nation of Islam

Jackson to Fire Islam Bodyguards

New York Post  12/31/2003

Michael Jackson is sick of his aggressive Nation of Islam bodyguards and wants to fire them, sources told The Post yesterday. Jackson's relatives and business associates are shopping around for other security outfits, a source said.

Fierce Nation of Islam guards have been on Jackson's hip since mid-November, when Santa Barbara County, Calif., authorities busted the King of Pop for allegedly molesting a young boy earlier this year.

But now, the family believes bringing the controversial group into their camp--first reported by The Post--was a bad idea because the Nation of Islam protectors have gone overboard in keeping Jackson away from his closest confidants.

Other than a provocative interview on "60 Minutes" Sunday night, few people--even his own family--have been able to see Jackson. Leonard Muhammad, a top Nation of Islam official and group leader Louis Farrakhan's son-in-law, even stood behind Jackson defense lawyer Mark Geragos during a recent press conference. "Everyone who has dealt with Michael for years, from his lawyers to family, [is] afraid," said a source familiar with Jackson's current security arrangement. "They're intimidated and no one can get in touch with Michael."

Sources told The Post that Jackson's brothers Jermaine--an orthodox Muslim, not a Nation of Islam member--and Tito hired the singer's current bodyguards. But Michael has sided with his mom, Catherine, and his father, Joe, in seeking new security, said a source.

A family friend said Jackson was caught off guard by the Nation of Islam's tough "Secret Service-style" ways. "Michael's someone not used to this intensity that was provided by the Nation," said a family friend. "They're very thorough, and their main focus is protecting Michael, even if that meant protecting Michael from his own family at times. And that's made Michael and the Jackson family very uncomfortable."

Sources: Nation of Islam Aiding Jackson

The Associated Press

Los Angeles, Dec. 30, 2003--(AP) Members of the Nation of Islam have begun playing a role in Michael Jackson's affairs, The Associated Press has learned, although the controversial group denies having any official part in the pop star's life.

Sources close to the Jackson camp, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP that Nation of Islam members have handled security at the singer's Neverland ranch and have begun taking over some of his business affairs since he was accused of committing lewd acts on a child.

The sources have been involved in Jackson's business affairs for at least a year, and each independently provided the details concerning the Nation of Islam links to the singer.

The group, which in the past has been accused of anti-Semitism and inflammatory, separatist rhetoric, issued a statement Monday after receiving inquiries from the AP and other news organizations. "The Nation of Islam, in response to several inquiries, has said today that it has no official business or professional relationship with Mr. Michael Jackson," the statement said. "The Nation of Islam joins thousands of other people in wishing him well."

Jackson's attorney, Mark Geragos, also dismissed the reports and denied that Nation of Islam members had been working out of Geragos' office. "They are not part of his defense," Geragos said. "I'm certainly not pushing away support from anyone, but I don't ask people what their religious affiliation is when they offer support."

Geragos acknowledged that when he held a news conference on Jackson's behalf after charges were announced on Dec. 18, one of those standing behind him was Leonard F. Muhammad, identified on the Nation of Islam's Web site as its chief of staff. "Leonard Muhammad was there," Geragos said. "He's one of Michael's supporters."

Under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam advocates black self-empowerment and a separate African-American state; Jackson is not a Muslim nor a member of the Nation of Islam, according to one of his brothers.

Asked about the Nation of Islam's reported role in directing Jackson's affairs, Jackson business adviser Charles Koppelman said, "It's not the case as to his music, finances and assets. I think it's primarily in security."

Koppelman, a former chief of EMI Records, and another adviser, Alan Whitman, said they remain in charge of Jackson's music and finances. "I receive his bills and write his checks," said Whitman, an accountant. "Anything else I relate to Mr. Jackson is confidential."

Koppelman, who like Whitman has been a Jackson adviser for the past year, said he has not talked to Jackson about the Nation of Islam. "If he gets involved on a spiritual basis, that's his business," he said.

Jackson's brother Jermaine has converted to Islam but is not a member of the Nation of Islam. Asked during an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live" whether his brother planned to convert, Jermaine Jackson said he did not.

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