Dwight York

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This article is about Dwight York, the Nuwaubian leader. For the football (soccer) player, see Dwight Yorke. For the Wisconsin politician, see Dwight A. York.

Dwight D. York[1] (born June 26, 1945[2][3]), also known as Malachi Z. York, Issa Al Haadi Al Mahdi, Dr. York, et alii, is an American musician and writer, known as the founding leader of various religious/political groups, including most notably the quasi-religious cult known as the Nuwaubian movement, among other names.[4]

He and his group were long based in Brooklyn, New York, where York exercised control over the community's sexual practices and claimed access to most of the women, married or not. He required members to sell goods on the street to raise funds; it owned an estimated 20 buildings. About 1990 the community left and eventually relocated to rural Putnam County, Georgia, where they built a large complex. York was convicted in 2004 of numerous counts of federal charges of child molestation and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; he is serving a 135-year sentence. An appeals court upheld his conviction; the United States Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal.

York began his ministry in the late 1960s; in 1967 he was preaching to the "Ansaaru Allah" (viz. African Americans) in Brooklyn, New York, during the period of the Black Power movement. He founded numerous esoteric or quasi-religious fraternal orders under various names during the 1970s and 1980s. These were at first based on pseudo-Islamic themes and Judaism (Nubian Islamic Hebrews). Later he developed a theme derived from "Ancient Egypt," eclectically mixing ideas taken from black nationalism, cryptozoological and UFO religions, and popular conspiracy theory. He last called his group the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, or Nuwabians.

York and the Nuwaubians came under increased federal and state government scrutiny in the early 1990s, after they built Tama-Re, an Egyptian-themed "city" for about a hundred of his followers, in rural Putnam County, Georgia. Before York's trial, the community had been joined directly and in the area by hundreds of other followers from out of state, while alienating both black and white local residents. The community was intensively investigated after numerous reports that York had molested numerous children of his followers.

York was arrested in May 2002. In 2004 he was convicted on federal charges of transporting minors across state lines for the purposes of sexual molestation, as well as racketeering and financial reporting violations. York's case was reported as the largest prosecution for child molestation ever directed at a single person in the history of the United States, both in terms of number of victims and number of incidents.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

York incorporates a "™" trade-mark suffix into his signature on a Liberian Consulate document.

According to a birth certificate issued in the United States, Dwight D. York was born in Boston, Massachusetts.[5] Other sources give his birthplace as New Jersey,[6] New York,[3] Baltimore,[7][page needed] or Takoradi, Ghana.[8][citation needed]

York says that he was raised in Massachusetts, and at the age of seven went to Aswan, Egypt to learn about Islam. "My grandfather, As Sayyid Abdur Rahman Al Mahdi, the Imaam of the Ansaars in the Sudan until 1959 AD, upon looking into my eyes foretold that I was the one who would possess 'the light.'"[9] He says he returned to the United States in 1957 at age 12 and continued to study Islam. As an adolescent, he moved with his family to Teaneck, New Jersey.

In the late 1960s York, calling himself "Imaam Isa", combined elements of the Moorish Science Temple of America, the Nation of Islam, the Nation of Gods and Earths and Freemasonry, and founded a quasi-Muslim black nationalist movement and community. He called it "Ansaar Pure Sufi," or the "Ansaaru Allah Community," c. 1970.[10] He instructed members to wear black and green dashikis.[3]

He later changed his name to "Imaam Isa Abdullah," and renamed his "Ansaar Pure Sufi" ministry to the "Nubians" in Brooklyn in 1967.[3] The group was considered to be part of the Black Hebrews phenomenon, under the name "Nubian Islaamic Hebrews"[11] and "Nubian Hebrew Mission" as of 1969[12] This was also the period of Black Power among some African Americans.

Ansaaru Allah Community (1970)[edit]

York later traveled to Africa, to Sudan and Egypt in particular. He met and persuaded members of Mohamed Ahmed Al-Mahdi's family to finance him to set up a cell of their organization in the United States. This was to be a "west" or "American" political wing of Sudan's Ansar movement under Sadiq al-Mahdi (also see Umma Party). He began to develop the claim of his "Sudanese" roots in order to authenticate his American branch of the sect.[3]

After York returned from a pilgrimage to (Egypt and Sudan), he invited Sadiq Al-Mahdi to the US. In 1970 his group changed its name to the "Ansaaru Allah Community in the West."[13] A 1993 FBI report described this group as a "front for a wide range of criminal activity, including arson, welfare fraud and extortion."[14]

The group wrote:

The women of the Ansaaru Allah Community focus on memorizing history as their Imam sees it, learning Arabic (many of them are quite fluent), incorporating Sudanese etiquette into their mannerisms and memorizing the Qur'an. They participate in the compilation of the various texts produced by the community and also work in the recording studio owned by the community. Other than this work, the women's main source of income comes from US government public assistance and monies earned by the men in various enterprises such as food shops, jewelry and merchandise stores, and street vending.[13]

Brooklyn (1980–1993)[edit]

The New York Press reported on York:

He was based in Coney Island for a time, and operated a bookstore and a printing press on Flatbush Ave. in the 70s. In the 80s he was based in Brooklyn, on Bushwick Ave. York's students are best remembered by New Yorkers as practitioners of orthodox Islam – members of certain New York Five Percent Nation, Nation of Islam and Arab Islamic mosques still regard the Nuwaubians as a rival faction – but at different times they followed the paths of Christianity and Judaism. Operations relocated to Liberty, near the Catskills, around 1991, then to Georgia in 1993.[15]

The community in Brooklyn, reported as identifying as the "Holy Tabernacle of the Most High" and also as the "Children of Abraham," was said to be led by Rabboni Y'shua Bar El Haady. They practiced a mixture of Judaism and Islam. They were reported as numbering about 300 persons and in 1994 the group reportedly still owned nine apartment buildings, of which five were in tax arrears. Local politicians were concerned that the abandoned buildings would become centers of uses that would damage the neighborhood. Anecdotal reports were that some of the group went to Monroe County, New York, and others to Georgia.[16]

Musical productions[edit]

In the early 1980s, York had performed as vocalist with his own groups, known as Jackie and the Starlights, the Students, and Passion.

He launched his own record label, named Passion Productions, recording as the solo artist "Dr. York." His debut release was the single "Only a Dream" (later included in the album New York, Hot Melt Records UK, 1985). "Dr. York" and Passion Productions were advertised in the May 4, 1985 issue of Billboard magazine.[17]

Background vocals were by Ted Mills of the group Blue Magic.[18] York said he performed popular music in order to "reach a mass majority of my people through my music."[19]

Ministry and fraternal orders[edit]

York's groups had a variety of names and functions: quasi-religious, fraternal, and tribal. They were called "Holy Tabernacle Ministries", "Egiptian [sic] Church of Karast," "Holy Seed Baptist Synagogue", "Ancient Mystic Order of Melchizedek", "Ancient Egiptian [sic] Order", "All Eyez on Egypt", "United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors", "Yamassee Native American Tribe", "Washitaw Tribe", and "Lodge 19 of the Ancient and Mystic Order of Malachizodok."[20] While drawing from various religious and historical themes, Malachi York continued to focus on Nubia. He promoted a design featuring an ankh in the middle of a six-pointed star of Judaism and Islamic crescent, a symbol used by the Ansarullah Community. The ankh is associated with pre-Islamic Sudan, Nubia.

Dwight York changed his name legally in 1990 to "Issa al Haadi al Mahdi" when he was still living in Brooklyn.[21] He changed it again in 1993 to "Malachi York,"[5] but also adopted a number of titles and pseudonyms, including "The Supreme Grand Master Dr. Malachi Z. York," "Nayya Malachizodoq-El," and "Chief Black Eagle."

By 1985 York had added miracle-performance to his repertoire. He claimed to materialize sacred, healing ash in front of his followers, much in the fashion of Sathya Sai Baba.[22]

In 1988 York was convicted of obtaining a passport with a false birth certificate.[23]

Move to Georgia and construction of Tama-Re (1993–2002)[edit]

The central part of the "Tama-Re" compound, as seen from the air, 2002. Photograph by Kenneth C. Budd.

York left Brooklyn with an estimated 300 followers about 1990. Some settled in upstate New York. He later moved with numerous followers to Georgia. Others joined them from such cities as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Hartford, New York and Washington, D.C.[4] According to former follower Robert J. Rohan, who later wrote a book about the movement, York moved in order to avoid criminal investigations and other charges in New York.[24]

Perhaps to avoid scrutiny from the international Muslim community, the Nation of Islam, the Nation of Gods and Earths, legal troubles, and the negative history of his group during their New York period, he changed his own name several times, as well as the group's name, and masked different parts of their doctrine.[14] In Georgia, they changed their name to the "United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors."[10]

At York's direction, the community purchased land and built Tama-Re, an Egyptian-themed complex built on 476 acres (1.93 km2) of land near Eatonton, Georgia. It was built over a period of years and completed in 1993.

Tensions with county authorities increased in 1998, when the county sought an injunction against construction and uses that violated zoning. At the same time, the Nuwaubian community increased its leafletting of Eatonton and surrounding areas, charging white officials with racial discrimination and striving to increase opposition to them. Threats mounted and an eviscerated dog carcass was left at the home of the county attorney.[4]

Within Putnam County, the Nuwaubians lost black support, in part by trying to take over the NAACP chapter. But outside, they appealed to activists, claiming to be persecuted in the county. During this period, the group maintained Holy Tabernacle stores "in more than a dozen cities in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Trinidad."[4] And York purchased a $557,000 mansion in Athens, Georgia, about 60 miles away, the base of the University of Georgia.[4]

In July 1999, Time magazine reported on the "40-ft. pyramids, obelisks, gods, goddesses and a giant sphinx," built by York's followers in rural Georgia in an article titled "Space Invaders".[25]

In 2005 federal government officials acquired the property of Tama-Re through asset forfeiture after York was convicted and sentenced to prison for 135 years. He owed money for violating financial laws. After the property was sold, new owners demolished the buildings and monuments.

Arrest and conviction of child molestation (2002-present)[edit]

Beginning in Brooklyn, York had established strict sexual practices within the community, reserving for himself sexual access to many women and girls, including wives and children of followers.

Theodore Gabriel wrote about these practices:

[W]hile extolling the virtues and importance of family life and the conjugal relationship, he [York] denies such relationships to his followers except at strictly controlled intervals. He urges his female followers to pattern themselves on the Islamic paradigms of the wife and the mother, apparently desiring the creation of stable family units. But in reality the husbands and wives are segregated in dormitories, separated also from their children. York permits spouses to cohabit only once every three months. They are permitted to meet in the "Green Room" by prior appointment only.[26]

Anonymous letters were sent to Putnam County officials alleging child molestation at the Nuwaubian community. The FBI, which had started investigating the group in 1993, assigned a major task force to it. In 2002 York was arrested and charged with more than 100 counts of sexually molesting dozens of children, some as young as four years old. According to Bill Osinski, who wrote a 2007 book about York and the case: "When he [York] was finally indicted, state prosecutors literally had to cut back the number of counts listed — from well beyond a thousand to slightly more than 200 — because they feared a jury simply wouldn’t believe the magnitude of York's evil.… [It] is believed to be the nation's largest child molestation prosecution ever directed at a single person, in terms of number of victims and number of alleged criminal acts."[27]

In early 2003 York's lawyer had him evaluated by a forensic psychologist, who diagnosed a DSM-IV "impression consisting of Axis I – Clinical Syndrome of Delusional (Paranoid) Disorder, Generalized anxiety disorder, Adjustment disorder with depressed mood, and Axis IIpersonality disorders; histrionic personality traits, self-defeating personality traits, and schizotypal personality features."[28]

In 2003, York entered into a plea bargain that was later dismissed by the judge. He was convicted by a jury on January 23, 2004. The judge rejected his plea to be returned for trial to his own "tribe," after York claimed status as an indigenous person:

"Your Honor, with all due respects to your government, your nation, and your court, we the indigenous people of this land have our own rights, accepted sovereign, our own governments. We are a sovereign people, Yamassee, Native American Creeks, Seminole, Washitaw Mound Builders. And all I'm asking is that the Court recognize that I am an indigenous person. Your court does not have jurisdiction over me. I should be transferred to the Moors Cherokee Council Court in which I will get a trial by juries of my peers. I cannot get a fair trial, Your Honor, if I'm being tried by the settlers or the confederates. I have to be tried by Native Americans as a Native American. That's my inalienable rights, and it's on record."[29]

He asserted to the court that he was a "secured party," and answered questions in court with the response: "I accept that for value." This may have been a heterodox legal strategy based on patriot mythology.[30]

Early in 2004, York was convicted in federal court by a jury of multiple RICO, child molestation, and financial reporting charges. He was sentenced to 135 years in prison.[31]

His case was appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, but that court upheld the convictions on October 27, 2005.[32] A U.S. Supreme Court appeal was denied in June 2006.[33]

Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party described York as "a great leader of our people" and "a victim of an open conspiracy by our enemy."[34][unreliable source?] Together with Liberian Senator Francis Y.S. Garlawolu, Shabazz was among those working on an appeal for York. The Southern Regional Director of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition also pledged his support.[35][citation needed]

York's followers assert a number of defenses, including that their leader Malachi Z. York, who was charged and convicted, is not the same person as the Dwight D. York who is listed in court documents as the defendant. (One of York's sons is named Dwight, and sometimes the claim is made that it is York's son and not York who is or should be the real defendant). Other say that York was "set up" by his son Jacob in coordination with al Qaeda-linked American mosques jealous of York's influence among black Muslims.[citation needed]

York believes that his betrayal, arrest, trial and imprisonment (and eventual release) were foretold in chapter 10 of Zecharia Sitchin's The Wars of the Gods and the Men, with York being represented by Mar-duq in that story.[36]

Imprisonment[edit]

As of 2014 Dwight York is serving his sentence at the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado as Inmate # 17911-054. His projected release date is April 7, 2122.[37]

York's followers have said that, since 1999 York has been a Consul General of Monrovia, Liberia, under appointment from then-President Charles Taylor. They argue he should be given diplomatic immunity from prosecution and extradited as a persona non-grata to Liberia.[38] Officials have not accepted this claim.

Teachings[edit]

Main article: Nuwaubianism

York has taught an ever-changing and multifaceted doctrine over the years, with influences and borrowings from many sources. It has included a baroque cosmology, unconventional theories about race and human origins, cryptozoological and extraterrestrial speculations, black nationalism, conspiracy theory, and religious practices invented or borrowed from many existing religions.

Descent[edit]

York has had a variety of stories about his ancestry and birth, including that he was born in Omdurman, Sudan. This has not been documented. His parents of record are Mary C. York (née Williams), now also known as Faatimah Maryam, and her husband David Piper York.[4] York has claimed that his biological father was Al Haadi Abdur Rahman Al Mahdi, whom his mother ostensibly met while studying as a student in the Sudan.[39] This is not supported by any documentary sources.

York claims that the name he was given at birth was "Isa Al Haadi Al Mahdi" and that he was not given the name "York" (without a first name) until a month later when he and his mother returned to Boston.[40] David and Mary York had four other children together: David, Dale, Debra and Dennis.[39] York has claimed, without documentation being found, that his father was descended from "Ben" York, an enslaved African American who took part in the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806).[39]

He claims a paternal Sudanese grandfather, As Sayyid Abdur Rahman Al Mahdi, making York a descendant of the Muslim leader Muhammad Ahmad.[41] There is no documentation to support this.

On his mother's side, York described his maternal grandfather, Clarence Daniel "Bobby" Williams, as "an Egyptian Moor named Salah Hailak Al Ghala, a merchant seaman from a little village called Beluwla, in Nubia of Ancient Egypt."[42] Another genealogical tree shows Bobby Williams' father as unknown and his mother as "Madam Decontee" of the Bassa tribe of Liberia.[39] These claims have not been documented.

Aliases[edit]

York has been known by a multitude of aliases over the years, many of which he used simultaneously. They include the following:

  • Dr. York
  • Malakai Z. York
  • Dr. Malachi Z. York-El
  • H.E. Dr. Malachi Kobina Yorke™
  • Imperial Grand Potentate Noble: Rev. Dr. Malachi Z. York 33°/720°
  • Consul General: Dr. Malachi Z. York ©™
  • Grand Al Mufti "Divan" Noble Rev. Dr. Malichi Z. York-El
  • As Sayyid Al Imaam Issa Al Haadi Al Mahdi
  • Asayeed El Imaam Issa El Haaiy El Mahdi
  • Isa Abd’Allah Ibn Abu Bakr Muhammad
  • Isa al Haadi al-Mahdi
  • Al Hajj Al Imaam Isa Abd’Allah Muhammad Al Mahdi

(Note: there is no documentation for completing formal degrees that support his use of the title Doctor or Dr.)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "United States v. York, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, October 27, 2005". Findlaw. 
  2. ^ Purported birth certificate of York shows birth as June 26, 1945, Archived 7 January 2016 at WebCite
  3. ^ a b c d e Philips, Abu Ameenah Bilal. The Ansar Cult in America, Tawheed Publications 1988, p. 1. Philips claims that in 1975 York's publications changed his declared birth year from 1935 to 1945, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of The Mahdi, who is popularly believed to have been born in 1845.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Moser, Bob. "'Savior' in a Strange Land: A black supremacist cult leader meets his match in rural Georgia", Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report 107 (Fall, 2002), as archived by the Internet Archive March 2005; Archived 7 January 2016 at WebCite
  5. ^ a b In the Matter of the Application of Issa Al Haadi Al Mahdi for leave to change his name to Malachi York January 15, 1993 [1] Archived December 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Osinski, Bill "Cult leader ignored his own rules," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 7, 2002 Archived March 3, 2003, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Lewis, James (ed.) Odd Gods: New Religions and the Cult Controversy, Prometheus Books 2001
  8. ^ York, Mary C. "Affidavit of confirmation of true birth records of Malachi Kobina York/Yorke by myself his biological mother," 19 April 2001
  9. ^ Malachi Z. York, The Ansaar Cult, Rebuttal to the Slanderers, Factology website, archived by the Internet Archive in Feb. 2005; Archived 7 January 2016 at WebCite
  10. ^ a b Carol Brennan, "York, Dwight D.", Encyclopedia.com, 2016
  11. ^ Philips, Abu Ameenah Bilal. The Ansar Cult in America Tawheed Publications, 1988, p. 3
  12. ^ Glossary from McKee, Susan, "A Provisional History of Muslims in the United States" (work-in-progress), as archived by the Internet Archive, Jan. 2004; Archived 7 January 2016 at WebCite
  13. ^ a b "Ansaaru Allah Nubian Islamic Hebrews: Ourstory!", Archived 7 January 2016 at WebCite
  14. ^ a b "Ancient Mystic Order of Malchizedek, Index of Cults and Religions", Watchman Fellowship ministry
  15. ^ Heimlich, Adam. "Black Egypt: A Visit to Tama-Re", New York Press, 14 November 2000, Archived 7 January 2016 at WebCite
  16. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Muslims Leave Bushwick: The Neighbors Ask Why," New York Times, 24 April 1994
  17. ^ "Billboard". Billboard. p. 41. 
  18. ^ "Record News", Sounds, December 14, 1985, p. 6
  19. ^ York, Malachi Z. "El's Qur'aan 18:60–82, What It Means Today," The Truth (Bulletin), The 7 Heads and the 10 Horns (1993) p. 12
  20. ^ "Malachi York". Masonic Info. Retrieved 2016-01-07. ; Archived 7 January 2016 at WebCite
  21. ^ "In the matter of the Application of Dwight York a/k/a/ Isa Muhammad, leave to change his name to Issa al Haadi al Mahdi," N.Y. Supreme Court, Brooklyn, Kings County, November 27, 1989
  22. ^ Philips, Abu Ameenah Bilal. The Ansar Cult, 1988, p. 36 (referring to York's 1985 books The Man of Miracles in This Day and Time and You Are Adam's Descendants)
  23. ^ Testimony of Jalaine Ward, quoted in Peecher, Rob. "FBI: York molested dozens; grand jury indicts Nuwaubian leader on 116 state counts", The Macon Telegraph, May 14, 2002 Archived June 16, 2002, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ Sharon E. Crawford, "Former Nuwaubian writes book, tells how York duped followers," The Macon Telegraph, 14 March 2005, posted at New Age Fraud website; accessed 26 May 2016
  25. ^ Joe Kovac Jr., "New Book Asks Provocative Questions About Dwight York", The Macon Telegraph, 20 May 2007, accessed 25 May 2016
  26. ^ Gabriel, Theodore. "Dwight York – a religious and cultural bricoleur," in Partridge, C. UFO Religions, Routledge, 2003, p. 152
  27. ^ Osinski, Bill. Ungodly: Fact Sheet, Ungodly: A True Story of Unprecedented Evil book website
  28. ^ Robinson, Matt. Attachments filed with the 2241 habeas corpus motion, 27 April 2006
  29. ^ U.S. v. York (Case 02-CR-27-1) 30 June 2003 transcripts
    see also: Peecher, Rob "York claims immunity as Indian: Defense raises new issues as about 200 show support," Macon Telegraph, 1 July 2003
  30. ^ Peecher, Rob. "Lawyer withdraws guilty plea for York: Nuwaubian leader likely to face new charges, including racketeering," Macon Telegraph, 25 October 2003
  31. ^ [2], Online Athens, Georgia
  32. ^ U.S. v. Dwight D. York, a.k.a. Malakai Z. York, etc. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, D.C. Docket No. 02-00027-CR-CAR-5-1, October 27, 2005 [3]
  33. ^ Dwight D. York, Petitioner v. United States Docket for 05-1503
  34. ^ email from M. Shabazz to various Nuwaubians, 13 December 2006
  35. ^ All Eyes Do Behold, Nuwaubian Administration of International Affairs, 2005 [4] Archived May 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^ York, Malachi Z. Compilation of Powerful Letters 27 June 2005
  37. ^ Inmate Locator, Federal Bureau of Prisons
  38. ^ "Liberian Repatriation Efforts" Nuwaubian Administration of International Affairs [5]; see also Johnson, Joe "Notaries play role in fake document ploy: York's sect at it again," Athens Banner-Herald 20 December 2009 Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  39. ^ a b c d "York Genealogy Chart of African and Native Decendancy" Nuwaubian Administration of International Affairs[6] Archived April 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  40. ^ "Issue #1 Who is Dwight D. York?" United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors [7] Archived April 20, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  41. ^ Philips, Abu Ameenah Bilal. The Ansar Cult in America, Tawheed Publications, 1988, p. 12
  42. ^ "Genealogy of Consul General Dr. Malachi Z. York and his African-Native Moorish American-Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples of the Land Heritage," Nuwaubian Administration of International Affairs [8] Archived November 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]