Clinton administration officials said Tuesday that they would almost certainly reject an application from the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, to be allowed to accept a donation of more than $1 billion from Col. Moammar Gadhafi of Libya.
Farrakhan defended the gift Tuesday.
“We will fight for what we believe is our legal right, and I will go across the nation stirring up not only my own people, but all those who would benefit from it,” Farrakhan told a news conference in Chicago.
“We are not terrorists,” Farrakhan said. “We are not trying to do anything against the good of America. What we want to do is good for our people and ultimately good for our nation.”
A number of people affiliated with the Nation of Islam said they believed they would have a strong case that a rejection would be an unconstitutional infringement on religious freedom.
Gadhafi pledged $1 billion to the Nation of Islam after meeting with Farrakhan in Libya in January. The United States, which has long labeled the Gadhafi government a supporter of terrorism, bars nearly all economic ties with Libya.
“Considering who we’re dealing with here, a betting man would not be wise to bet on license approval,” said one government official familiar with the application. “He would bet the ranch on litigation thereafter.”
It is unclear whether Gadhafi has $1 billion to give Farrakhan. Farrakhan has said he would use the money for voter registration drives, charitable contributions and economic development opportunties.