Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan told a crowd of about 3,000 at the Kennedy Center last night that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has given him a $5 million "interest-free loan" to help blacks build an economic enterprise in America.
Farrakhan pledged that the money will be used to effect what he described as his "solution" to black unemployment, poverty and crime -- a black corporation headed by him and established "by the first quarter of 1986." He said the corporation, called People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth (POWER) will market a line of soap, deodorant and other personal care products aimed at the 22 million blacks in this country.
In February, Qaddafi, speaking by satellite to a Black Muslim convention in Chicago, called Farrakhan "a fellow struggler in the cause of liberation of our people" and told him that "we are ready to give you arms because your cause is just. We are with you, don't worry."
Farrakhan and instead sent Qaddafi a taped message similar to the address he delivered last night. Farrakhan said Qaddafi gave him the loan in response.
A state department spokesman said last night that U.S. officials are not aware of any monetary transaction between Farrakhan and the Libyan leader and would not comment further.
Last night's event was sponsored by the Wellington Group, a black marketing research firm headquarted in Philadelphia. Al Wellington, president of the firm, said, "We're working with Minister Farrakhan and others under the banner of black economic development."