Beliefnet
CHICAGO, Feb. 16 (AP) - Khalid Abdul Muhammad, the one-time Nation of Islam official who became known for virulent attacks on whites and Jews, has died, an associate of the Nation of Islam said Friday. He was 53.

The activist was removed from life support Thursday night at a Georgia hospital, according to Toure Muhammad, a free-lance reporter for The Final Call, the Nation of Islam's newspaper in Chicago.

Khalid Muhammad was rushed to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta on Tuesday, suffering from a brain aneurysm, the New York Daily News reported. Elaine Morgan, a hospital spokeswoman, said she could not confirm or deny any reports about Muhammad.

``It is confirmed that Khalid Muhammad has passed. The Nation of Islam is mourning his death,'' Toure Muhammad told The Associated Press.

The Nation of Islam, which does not release membership figures, is estimated to have as many as 200,000 followers in the United States. It was led for decades by Elijah Muhammad, but after his death in 1975, his son W. Deen led the movement toward orthodoxy. In 1978, Louis Farrakhan broke away to revive Elijah's teachings under the old Nation of Islam name, and Farrakhan's more radical teachings, including criticism of whites, kept the movements apart.

Muhammad was named one of Farrakhan's top lieutenants in the Nation of Islam in 1981. He served at Nation of Islam mosques in New York and Atlanta throughout the decade, and in 1991 became Farrakhan's personal assistant.

Muhammad's new position involved public speaking engagements, and he quickly became known for his harsh rhetoric about Jews, homosexuals and whites. He was dismissed by Farrakhan after a 1993 speech during which he referred to Jews as ``bloodsuckers,'' labeled the pope a ``no-good cracker'' and urged mob murder of white South Africans.

Farrakhan, who has battled prostate cancer, has said that a ``near-death experience'' in 1999 had left him a changed man. Since then he has stressed unity for all races and religions.

In a speech in April 1994, before a cheering audience of about 2,000, Muhammad denounced Jews as ``honkies.''

``I am going to be like a pit bull. That is the way I am going to be against the Jews. I am going to bite the tail of the honkies,'' Muhammad said.

Also that year, Muhammad was shot in the leg and wounded by a former Nation of Islam member during a speech at the University of California at Riverside.

Muhammad was unrepentant about his rhetoric.

``I was born to give the white man hell, and I will give him hell from the cradle to the grave,'' he told a crowd in Atlanta in September 1995.

Muhammad, who became national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, led the ``Million Youth March'' in New York City in 1998. The rally, attended by about 6,000 people, ended in a clash between police and marchers; dozens were injured.

In 1999, Muhammad organized a second ``Million Youth March,'' and about 2,000 people showed up. But a third gathering last year drew barely more than 100, police estimated. Muhammad blamed the ``devil white media'' and city officials for the low turnout.

Muhammad was born Harold Moore Jr. in 1948. He began preaching as a child and was later a quarterback at an all-black high school in Houston. He attended Dillard University, a Methodist school in New Orleans, in the late 1960s. It was there that he became interested in the black liberation movement after hearing Farrakhan speak.

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