14 July 2014

South Africa: Madiba and the FBI - Spies, Threats and Commies


We know that the ANC was not removed from the US State Department's list of designated terrorist organisations until 2008. FBI documents on Nelson Mandela newly obtained via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show just how wary some US officials were of Mandela and the ANC following his release from prison. They also reveal that Mandela's early overseas trips were fraught with threats to his safety that the public heard little about.

"Remember John F Kennedy in Dallas??" The letter is written in spidery capitals. "Bring this black murderer to Houston and we will give him a welcome that the world will not forget."

Nelson Mandela arrived in the USA in June 1990 with wife Winnie to a hero's welcome: a tickertape parade in New York City and packed speaking engagements all over the country. But reports and cables collected by the FBI from that time tell another story - of official concerns for Mandela's safety as he travelled the country, and numerous threats of assassination.

The FBI documents were obtained by Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who has launched a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain...

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