Saturday, September 06, 2008
Obama Had Close Ties to Top Saudi Adviser at Early Age
Kenneth R. Timmerman
New evidence has emerged that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was closely associated as early as age 25 to a key adviser to a Saudi billionaire who had mentored the founding members of the Black Panthers In a videotaped interview this year on New York's all news cable channel NY1, a prominent African-American businessman and political figure made the curious disclosures about Obama. (See Video Clip Below)
Percy Sutton, the former borough president of Manhattan, off-handedly revealed the unusual circumstances about his first encounter with the young Obama.
"I was introduced to (Obama) by a friend who was raising money for him," Sutton told NY1 city hall reporter Dominic Carter.
"The friend's name is Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, from Texas," Sutton said. "He is the principal adviser to one of the world's richest men. He told me about Obama."
Sutton, the founder of Inner City Broadcasting, said al-Mansour contacted him to ask a favor: Would Sutton write a letter in support of Obama's application to Harvard Law School?
"He wrote to me about him," Sutton recalled. "And his introduction was there is a young man that has applied to Harvard. I know that you have a few friends up there because you used to go up there to speak. Would you please write a letter in support of him?"
Sutton said he acted on his friend al-Mansour's advice.
"I wrote a letter of support of him to my friends at Harvard, saying to them I thought there was a genius that was going to be available and I certainly hoped they would treat him kindly," Sutton told NY1.
Sutton did not say why al-Mansour was helping Obama, how he discovered him, or from whom he was raising money on Obama's behalf.
A Sutton aide told Newsmax that Sutton, 88, is ailing and is unlikely to do additional TV interviews in the near future. The aide could not provide additional comment for this story.
As it turned out, Obama did attend Harvard Law School after graduating from Columbia University in New York and doing a stint as a community organizer in Chicago.
The New York Times described how transformative his Harvard experience became for the young Obama: "He arrived there as an unknown, Afro-wearing community organizer who had spent years searching for his identity; by the time he left, he had his first national news media exposure, a book contract and a shot of confidence from running the most powerful legal journal in the country."
The details of Obama's academic performance are well known: At Harvard, Obama rose to academic distinction becoming the editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduating magna cum laude.
Less known are the reasons al-Mansour, an activist African-American Muslim, would be a key backer for a young man from Hawaii seeking to attend the most Ivy of the Ivy League law schools.
Khalid al-Mansour a.k.a. Don Warden
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax from his home in San Antonio, Texas, al-Mansour said he would not comment specifically on the statement by Percy Sutton because he was afraid anything he said would get "distorted."
"I was determined I was never going to be in that situation," he said. "Bloggers are saying this is the new Rev. Wright — in drag! — and he is a nationalist, racist, and worse than Rev. Wright. So any statement that I made would only further this activity which is not in the interest of Barack."
But in the lengthy interview, al-Mansour confirmed that he frequently spoke on university campuses, including Columbia, where Percy Sutton suggested he met Obama in the late 1980s, and confirmed his close relationship with Prince Alwaleed.
"I am not surprised to learn about this," said Niger Innis, spokesman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). "It is clear that Barack Obama's ties to the left are familial, generational, and have lasted for several years."
Although many Americans have never heard of Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour (his full name), he is well known within the black community as a lawyer, an orthodox Muslim, a black nationalist, an author, an international deal-maker, an educator, and an outspoken enemy of Israel.
A graduate of Howard University with a law degree from the University of California, al-Mansour sits on numerous corporate boards, including the Saudi African Bank and Chicago-based LaGray Chemical Co. LaGray, which was formed to do business in Africa, counts former Nigerian President General Abdusalam Abubakar on its advisory board.
He also sits on the board of the non-profit African Leadership Academy, along with top McCain for President adviser Carly Fiorina, and organized a tribute to the President of Ghana at the Clinton White House in 1995, along with pop star Michael Jackson.
But his writings and books are packed with anti-American rhetoric reminiscent of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's disgraced former pastor.
In a 1995 book, "The Lost Books of Africa Rediscovered," he alleged that the United States was plotting genocide against black Americans.
The first "genocide against the black man began 300 years ago," he told an audience in Harlem at a book-signing, while a second "genocide" was on the way "to remove 15 million Black people, considered disposable, of no relevance, value or benefit to the American society."
In the 1960s, when he founded the African American Association in the San Francisco Bay area, he was known as Donald Warden.
According to the Social Activism Project at the University of California at Berkley, Warden, a.k.a. Khalid al-Mansour, was the mentor of Black Panther Party founder Huey Newton and his cohort, Bobby Seale.
Newton later had a falling out with Warden, who was described in a 1994 book as "the most articulate spokesperson for black nationalism" at the time.
The falling out wasn't purely political, according to author Hugh Pearson.
"Sometimes Newton and the other members of (Warden's) security detail got into fights with young whites who didn't like what Warden had to say about whites. Rather than 'throw down' along with the security detail, Warden refused to fight," Pearson wrote in "Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America."
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of California entered an official statement of appreciation of Warden and his Black Panther colleagues in the African-American Association in the Congressional Record on April 23, 2007.
"Among the founding members (of the Association) were community leaders such as Khalid Al-Mansour (known then as Don Warden); future Judges Henry Ramsey and Thelton Henderson; future Congressman and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, and future Black Panthers Huey Newton and Bobby Seale," the Democratic representative's statement said.
Al-Mansour's more recent videotaped speeches focus on Muslim themes, and abound with anti-Semitic theories and anti-Israel vitriol.
"Today, the Palestinians are being brutalized like savages," he told an audience in South Africa. "If you protest you will go to jail, and you may be killed. And they say they are the only democratic country in the Middle East. ... They are lying on God."
He accused the Jews of "stealing the land the same way the Christians stole the land from the Indians in America."
The Saudi Connection
But al-Mansour's sponsorship of Obama as a prospective Harvard law student is important for another reason beyond his Islamic and anti-American rhetoric and early Black Panther ties.
At the time Percy Sutton, a former lawyer for Malcolm X and a former business partner of al-Mansour, says he was raising money for Obama's graduate school education, al-Mansour was representing top members of the Saudi Royal family seeking to do business and exert influence in the United States.
In 1989, for example — just one year after Obama entered Harvard Law School — The Los Angeles Times revealed that al-Mansour had been advising Saudi billionaires Abdul Aziz and Khalid al-Ibrahim in their secret effort to acquire a major stake in prime oceanfront property in Marina del Rey, Calif., through "an elaborate network of corporate shells in California, the Caribbean and Europe."
At the same time, he was also advising Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in his U.S. investments, and sits on the board of his premier investment vehicle, Kingdom Holdings.
Prince Alwaleed, 53, is the nephew if King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia. Forbes magazine ranked him this year as the 19th richest person on the planet, with a fortune in excess of $23 billion. He owns large chunks of Citigroup and News Corp., the holding company that controls Fox News.
He is best known in the United States for his offer to donate $10 million to help rebuild downtown Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks. But after the prince made a public comment suggesting that U.S. policies had contributed to causing the attacks, Mayor Rudy Giuliani handed back his check.
"I entirely reject that statement," Giuliani said. "There is no moral equivalent for this (terrorist) act. There is no justification for it. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people."
Since then, Prince Alwaleed's Kingdom Foundation has given millions of dollars to Muslim charities in the United States, including several whose leaders have been indicted on terrorism-related charges in federal courts.
He also has given tens of millions of dollars to Harvard and other major U.S. universities, to establish programs in Islamic studies.
The casual statement by Percy Sutton to NY1 is the first time anyone has hinted at a relationship between Obama and the Saudi royal family.
Although al-Mansour glosses over his ties to the Saudi mega-billionaire in some of his public talks, he has represented the Saudi's interests in the United States, in Britain, and in Africa for more than a quarter century, according to public records.
He told Newsmax that he has personally introduced Prince Alwaleed to "51 of the 53 leaders of Africa," traveling from country to country on the Saudi prince's private jet.
He knows virtually every black leader in America, from the business community, to community activists, to the worlds of politics and entertainment.
When Michael Jackson was on the ropes in the mid-1990s following a series of lawsuits by the parents of children accusing him of sexual abuse, al-Mansour introduced him to Prince Alwaleed, whose Kingdom Entertainment signed a joint venture with Jackson in 1996.
"Jackson and Alwaleed became pals in 1994, when a mutual friend from Alwaleed's college days in California arranged a lunch meeting aboard the prince's yacht in Cannes," Time magazine reported about the new partnership in 1997.
The mutual friend was al-Mansour.
"As a black American, I am exceedingly proud at the American people's response to Barack Obama's candidacy," said CORE's Niger Innis. "But to deny that he has long-standing ties to left-wing elements in our polity is to deny reality. If you want to be president of the United States, it is not racism if you ask these kind of questions, and he has to come up with an answer, hopefully the truth."
Sutton gives no clues as to why al-Mansour would be raising money to help Obama go to law school. Obama has said during his campaign that he paid his way through Harvard with student loans.
For Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of the Los Angeles-based Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), these latest revelations about Obama's ties to Saudi financiers were an important wake-up call.
"To me, this opened up more questions about Barack Obama and his relationship to the Muslim world," Peterson told Newsmax.
"A lot of people are caught up with the emotional aspect of Barack Obama, the movie star aspect, the false promises that he's going to take care of everyone and their Mama."
But when the full story of Obama's ties to radical preachers such as Wright and to black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan comes out, Peterson believes that Obama's star power will fade.
"I think there's more to this story and to Barack Obama than we realize," Peterson said. "As all the truth comes out before the election, I don't think he has a chance. I can't see American's taking that kind of risk."
The Obama campaign did not respond to requests for comment.