Death threats against Mandela in 1990 US trip

2014-05-31 07:26
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Washington - The FBI investigated multiple death threats against Nelson Mandela during his 1990 visit to the United States and relied on an informant for details about the anti-apartheid leader's trip, according to newly released documents.

The FBI released hundreds of pages of records tied to Mandela's visit, which came months after he was released from a 27-year prison sentence in South Africa and four years before he became president.

'Remember JFK?'

Many of the documents are redacted, but they do show the FBI investigated multiple threats to assassinate Mandela, including a handwritten note that says, in part, "Remember John F. Kennedy in Dallas???".

One threatening caller said he was from the Aryan Knights and that there were two bombs along a New York City parade route, another warned of a "hit squad" and a threat was phoned into a Georgia university where Mandela was scheduled to address a rally, according to the documents.

"The caller stated that he and his two companions had spent their lives trying to stop Mandela," reads a memo about a threat received by the Georgia Institute of Technology. "He stated that they had various weapons and means with which to accomplish this task and had received military training."

The call was not traced and no further information about it was available, the memo states.

The FBI paid close attention to his movements in the US.


A memo from the FBI's Atlanta field office reveals that on 30 May 1990, an unidentified source - "who is newly opened, and whose reliability is not yet established" - provided detailed information on Mandela's itinerary, including a scheduled wreath-laying ceremony in honour of Martin Luther King jnr, a $1 000-per-plate luncheon, and a request from Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader, for a private meeting with Mandela.

Mandela, who became South African president in 1994, died in December at age 95.

In the US, he met dignitaries, addressed rallies and raised money. In New York he was feted with a ticker-tape parade and given a key to the city. He spoke to union members in Miami Beach and, while in Washington, he received assurances from President George HW Bush of continuing US economic sanctions against South Africa's apartheid government.

The documents were released this week to Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at MIT, as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The FBI later made the records available on its website, as the bureau sometimes does after the deaths of high-profile individuals on whom it maintains files.

Read more on:    fbi  |  nelson mandela  |  us

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