Police concerns about a terrorist attack stemming from the 2003 arrest of Michael Jackson led to a request for federal help, according to FBI files kept on the late pop star.
The Santa Maria Police Department in California asked for FBI “involvement” after Jackson was arrested for child molestation. Police, according to the FBI, said they believed the court case would be a “soft target” for terrorism because of “worldwide media coverage.”
The FBI concluded there were no threats, but did note the presence in an early court appearance of “The Nation of Islam, represented by its security unit Fruits of Islam,” and of a “New Black Panther Party” member whose name was left blank in the files.
The documents, more than 300 pages and dating from 1992 to 2005, were released Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press and other media.
The documents include death threats against Jackson by a man who also cited then-President George H.W. Bush and mob boss John Gotti as possible targets.
A letter obtained by the FBI, dated July 6, 1992, states: “I decided that because nobody is taking me serious, and I can’t handle my state of mind, that I am going to Washington D.C. to threaten to kill the President of the United States, George Bush.”
The letter also says, “Michael (Jackson) I will personally attempt to kill, if he doesn’t pay me my money.” One of the documents, written by the L.A. City Attorney’s office, indicated on June 22, 1992, the author of the letter “arrives in Calif.” and “Threatens to kill.”
The FBI said the person who wrote the letter was charged with extortion, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison in 1993.
The files also show that the FBI’s legal office in London assisted local authorities with a child molestation probe in 1993 and in 1995, U.S. customs officials asked the FBI to analyze a VHS videotape as part of a child pornography investigation.