Nuwaubians

Emma Best filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking # 1363985-000
Due Jan. 25, 2017
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Records relating to or mentioning either Nuwaubianism, Nuwaubians, Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, or United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors. Originally a putatively Muslim group, Nuwaubianism is best understood as a cult that promotes a bizarre and complicated “theology.”

Nuwaubians refer to their belief system – which mixes black supremacist ideas with worship of the Egyptians and their pyramids, a belief in UFOs and various conspiracies related to the Illuminati and the Bilderbergers, as “Nuwaubianism” – not as theology, but as “factology, “Right Knowledge,” or a slew of other names. The group’s founder and leader, Dwight York, took extreme advantage of its adherents, sexually abusing their children and conning the adults out of their possessions. In April 2004, he was sentenced to 135 years in prison for molesting children, among other crimes.

By building a cult he trained to regard him as a god, Dwight York was able to create his own personal empire, over which he exercised dictatorial control. But before he was a god, he was a struggling ex-convict. Born in 1945, Dwight York was arrested for statutory rape on June 25, 1964, for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He was given a suspended sentence and put on probation. York broke probation later that year, when he was arrested for possession of a deadly weapon, assault, and resisting arrest. As a result, he served three years in prison.

When York was released, he worked as a street peddler in Harlem, selling pamphlets he had written and other items including incense. York picked up a handful of followers, many of whom lived in his and his wife’s apartment. York’s group was originally known as “Ansar Pure Sufi.” In the early 1970s, they moved to Brooklyn and took on the name “Ansaru Allah Community” (AAC). AAC men were sent to the streets to sell pamphlets and books and incense. The literature raised money for York and his group, but it also promoted the AAC and encouraged readers to come to hear York preach. York, who went by several names while leading the group, began to adopt the moniker “Dr. Malachi Z. York.”

Through the 1970s and the 1980s, the AAC expanded greatly. York eventually had 500 people living in about 20 apartment buildings that he owned in the Bushwick district of Brooklyn. The AAC operated bookstores, gift shops, a clothing store, and a grocery store. AAC chapters were founded in several other U.S. cities, and abroad in Trinidad, London and Toronto.

AAC members in Brooklyn were asked to surrender all of their possessions, live in York’s barracks-style apartments, and work for free. Many were given a daily quota of $25 to $100, which they had to reach by begging or selling literature. Those who did not meet their quotas were beaten or otherwise disciplined by York’s thugs. York controlled his followers’ lives almost completely. He chose their spouses, “mating” them according to his whim. Men and women lived in separate buildings; when they wanted to have sex, they were forced to ask permission to use a designated room. Sex with one’s spouse was a privilege granted when one’s duties had been performed satisfactorily.

Meanwhile, York used the group as his personal harem. He was effectively able to have sex with any woman in the cult. He allegedly impregnated many of these women, and it wasn’t long before he started to pursue underage girls. York purchased an 80-acre property in the Catskill Mountains in New York in 1983 and used it as a retreat home that he called Camp Jazzir. According to one of York’s sons, he spent about $5 million to build a mansion on the land; girls and women were brought to Camp Jazzir by van and lived in trailers attached to the house.

One woman who grew up in the AAC recalls being sent as a 6-year-old to Camp Jazzir, where York molested her. Another woman recounts being manipulated into having sex with York when she was 12 years old. Some of the cult’s older women reportedly helped to manipulate the children, showing them pornography and sometimes participating in the molestation.

It is difficult to describe the Nuwaubians’ belief system because it has changed over time and lacks internal consistency. The group has put out dozens of books, many of which were largely plagiarized from new age works. As a result, Nuwaubian mythology is a disorienting mix of UFO theories, talk about the significance of Egypt and the pyramids, references to Atlantis, and retellings of stories from the Bible and other religious texts. A common claim is that the original humans were black and that blacks are genetically superior to other races. White people are called “devils,” a concept derived from the Nation of Islam’s beliefs, but Nuwaubians allege that their lighter skin color is the result of leprosy and the fact that their ancestors mated with dogs and jackals.

In 1993, York bought a 476-acre property in Putnam County, Ga., and moved there with members of his Brooklyn chapter. The relative isolation of the land probably appealed to him; the largest town in the region is Eatonton, population 6,764 in 2000. The move may also have been prompted by the fact that the group had been investigated by the FBI for criminal acts allegedly committed by its members in Brooklyn, including arson, welfare fraud, and illegal possession of weapons.

In Georgia, York dropped the pretense of being a Muslim. The group went through several names and identities: for a while, York claimed to be “Chief Black Eagle” of the “Yamassee Native American Moors of the Creek Nation.” He even applied for a license to operate a casino. After this failed, York settled on calling his group the “United Nation of Nuwaubian Moors,” using an Egyptian motif. He also started identifying himself as a god from outer space.

York had his followers build two pyramids out of wood and stucco and other Egyptian-style buildings on the compound, which they called “Tama-Re.” Most of the Nuwaubians at Tama-Re lived in cheap trailers, while York lived in a mansion on the property. As many as 400 other Nuwaubians lived in the surrounding area.

York’s operation became very profitable. During a June 1998 “Savior’s Day” celebration at the Georgia compound, York took in about $500,000. He charged Nuwaubians $25 a year for their Nuwaubian “passports,” which allowed them to enter and exit the compound. A network of chapters and bookstores, called All Eyes on Egipt, also brought in funds, and members continued to raise money through begging and holding jobs.

One of the group’s sources of revenue was a nightclub called “Club Ramses.” It was illegally operated in one of the Tama-Re pyramids, which had been zoned only for use as a storage facility. In May 1998, police officers shut down the club. In response, Nuwaubians printed slanderous articles about the government officials of Eatonton. They threatened town leaders and disrupted government board meetings. After attorney Frank Ford represented the county in a lawsuit against the Nuwaubians, his tires were slashed by Nuwaubian spokesman Bernard Foster, a rock was thrown through his office window, and a gutted dog was left in the street next to his house. Also, Putnam County sheriff Howard Sills was sent a number of anonymous death threats.

The Nuwaubians claimed that the town’s attempts to regulate their buildings were racially motivated. One Nuwaubian flier referred to two local black leaders as “house niggers.” Though these allegations gained little traction in Eatonton, they received national attention. Al Sharpton came to Tama-Re in 1999 to speak against the town’s ostensible racism, and Jesse Jackson spoke at Tama-Re in support of the Nuwaubians in April 2001.

Jacob York, one of Dwight’s oldest sons, learned about his father’s Tama-Re compound around 1998 (he had left the cult in 1990). Troubled by the news, he went to Georgia to confront his father. According to Jacob, Dwight told him: “I don’t believe in any of this shit. If I had to dress up like a nun, if I had to be a Jew, I’d do it for this type of money.” Jacob worked to build the case against Dwight by helping Sheriff Sills find and interview victims of his father’s abuse.

In Spring 2002, investigations by federal officials of York ramped up. Officials started planning to arrest York and raid his compound, but they wanted to avoid a Waco-like incident in which a deadly siege or standoff could occur. Putnam County inspectors had been turned away by armed Nuwaubian guards in the past, so it was possible that the situation could escalate if not handled properly.

On May 8, 2002, York and his most trusted “wife,” Kathy Johnson, were arrested after leaving Tama-Re. Later that day, 300 law enforcement officers, including agents of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and several local sheriffs’ departments stormed the compound, meeting no resistance. They found about thirty stockpiled guns. On May 16, 2002, in a state case, York was indicted by a grand jury on 120 counts, including 74 counts of child molestation, 29 counts of aggravated child molestation, and one count of rape. When more evidence against York came to light, the number of counts grew even higher. A separate federal-level case charged York with racketeering and transporting children across state lines for the purpose of sexual intercourse.

York accepted a plea bargain in January 2003 after prosecutors promised him a fourteen-year sentence to be followed by probation. In the deal, York pleaded guilty to 77 state charges on January 24, a day after pleading guilty to a pair of federal charges. The state charges include 40 counts of aggravated child molestation, 34 counts of child molestation, two counts of influencing witnesses and one count of child exploitation.

In federal court, York pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful transport of minors for the purpose of engaging in sex acts and a count of attempting to evade financial reporting requirements. York will serve 15 years in federal prison if the court accepts a plea agreement. The state and federal prison terms would run concurrently. In June 2003, U.S. District Court Judge Hugh Lawson rejected the deal.

Lawson eventually recused himself from the case due to a defense motion and York’s case went to trial in 2004 in federal court. York was ultimately sentenced to 135 years in prison on the state charges. He was convicted on four counts of racketeering and six child molestation-related charges. The racketeering charges enabled the government to evict the Nuwaubians from Tama-Re and confiscate their property.

York’s “Main wife” Kathy Johnson reportedly did agree to a guilty plea and was sentenced to two years in prison. She had been accused of child molestation, procuring children for sex with York, and instructing the children on sexual techniques. In April 2004, Johnson was sentenced to two years in prison, to be followed by 18 years on probation. Three other women were initially charged, but have never been prosecuted.

York’s prison sentence did not destroy the Nuwaubians, though they have diminished in numbers. When the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals considered York’s case on appeal in September 2005, two hundred Nuwaubian protesters demonstrated in Atlanta to show their support (that October, the court upheld York’s conviction). In 2009, Nuwaubians tried to get York out of jail by sending false documents to his maximum security prison. Some of the documents were stamped by notaries public, six of whom lived in Athens, Ga., where some Nuwaubians have relocated. Howard Sills, the sheriff responsible for York’s arrest, has also been harassed by the Nuwaubians. They have sued him more than 12 times and once placed a fake lien on his property.

On Aug. 26, 2009, 300 people congregated at a federal courthouse in Macon, GA, to support an appeal filed to get York out of jail. As of 2011, Nuwaubians still posted frequently on websites and online forums, defending York’s innocence and alleging that the government framed him.

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links as well as a cross-reference with the Southern Poverty Law Center to include any information provided by the SPLC. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, 214 and 266 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: FOIPARequest

Good afternoon,

The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.

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Thank you,

Holly Early
Government Information Specialist
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
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Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia

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From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

An interim response, stating the request is being processed.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: FOIPAQUESTIONS

Dear Mr. Best,

Your FOIPA Request Number is 1363985-000.

Please check the status of your FOIPA Request at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps, and follow the instructions below.

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If your FOIPA Number is [1195846-0] please enter [1195846-000] into the system. If your FOIPA Number is [1195846-1] please enter [1195846-001] into the system. If you have any questions about the status of your FOIPA request, please e-mail foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>.

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Thank you,

Holly Early
Government Information Specialist
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO Line: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4854
Fax: (540) 868-4391 or (450)868-4997
Questions E-mail: foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>

Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia

Please check the status of your request online at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the decision to not search field offices as explicitly requested.

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

02/16/2017 04:46 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-002356

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

DOJ-AP-2017-002356 has been processed with the following final disposition: Closed for other reasons -- Other -- No Component Response to Adjudicate.

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