When Barack Obama’s campaign needed a base for harvesting votes from the southern precincts of Philadelphia, it set up shop in a building owned and managed by controversial real estate baron Kenny Gamble. Also known as Luqman Abdul Haqq, Gamble holds a senior position with the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), whose founding is traced to a convicted cop-killer and whose leadership is stacked with radicals. He likewise serves as a community organizer of sorts — one who has been accused of slowly transforming his neighborhood into a “black Muslim enclave.”
The office opened on August 21 at 1501 Christian Street, with Gamble himself cutting the ceremonial ribbon. Makeshift banners proclaim it the “South Philly Obama Headquarters,” the address of which is listed on the Obama-Biden website as a field office for the Pennsylvania Campaign for Change. Philadelphia tax records identify Gamble as the owner of the property, while signage indicates that the building is home to Universal Educational Management, part of his Universal Companies conglomerate.
Gamble’s associates and agendas expose him as a dubious figure that politicians seeking to present an image of inclusion would be wise to avoid. This is doubly true for a campaign like Obama’s that already has suffered serious missteps in its interaction with the Muslim community.
Best known for his work in the music business, Gamble has held high-ranking posts with the Muslim Alliance in North America, which focuses on African-American converts to Islam. That description fits Gamble and most of the group’s senior members, some of whom also have roots in the Nation of Islam and Black Panther movement. Indeed, the formation of MANA was inspired by Jamil Al-Amin, the onetime Panther “justice minister” H. Rap Brown. MANA’s enthusiasm for Al-Amin remains untainted in the wake of his conviction for the 2000 murder of a sheriff’s deputy. He has even addressed, by telephone, MANA meetings at Gamble’s United Muslim Masjid.
MANA’s governing bodies teem with Islamists: Siraj Wahhaj, the organization’s amir, was named as a potential unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, supports Sharia-prescribed punishments, and predicts America’s demise unless it “accepts the Islamic agenda.” Johari Abdul-Malik directs outreach activities for a Virginia mosque repeatedly tied to terrorism cases. Abdul Alim Musa promotes anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories and has expressed admiration for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Osama bin Laden.