2 Chicago men charged with illegally lobbying for Mugabe - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

2 Chicago men charged with illegally lobbying for Mugabe

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Prince Asiel Ben Israel Prince Asiel Ben Israel
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Federal prosecutors revealed the indictment of two men Tuesday, including a South Side activist who was "spiritual advisor" to the late singer Whitney Houston. The men allegedly promised the dictator of Zimbabwe in Africa that, for $3.4 million, they could persuade President Obama to remove U.S. economic sanctions on the country's outlaw regime.

The indictment claims the schemers recruited at least a half-dozen Chicago politicians.

West Side Congressman Danny Davis told FOX 32 News that the FBI has already asked to interview him and he will cooperate. Davis said he did meet with Zimbabwean officials in South Africa in 2009.

Congressman Bobby Rush issued a vaguely-worded statement admitting he was booked on the same trip, but said a sudden illness stopped him from going. One of the men at the center of it all is a strange figure.

Born Warren Brown, he's now known as Prince Asiel Ben Israel, a self-styled "international ambassador" of the Black Hebrew Israelite colony founded by a former Chicago bus driver in the desert in southern Israel. A few years before she died, troubled entertainer Whitney Houston went there with Bobby Brown and was baptized.

As the drug problems that eventually contributed to Houston's death grew worse, Prince Asiel assured national TV interviewers that she was recovering.

In the indictment revealed Tuesday, prosecutors said he misled the outlaw rulers of Zimbabwe, claiming he could persuade President Obama's Administration to lift U.S. economic sanctions. In reality, the feds said, Obama's transition team alerted the FBI to the lobbying of Asiel ben Israel and co-defendant Gregory Turner.

Congressman Danny Davis told FOX 32 by phone that he's known Ben Israel for 40 years. At his urging, Davis said he met in South Africa to discuss sanctions with officials of the Zimbabwe regime.

Davis and South Side Congressman Bobby Rush sponsored a resolution urging removal of the sanctions. President Obama has renewed them every year he's been in office.

In a written statement, Rush said: "I have not been questioned and I am not a cooperating witness."

Without naming them, the indictment claimed several local state senators and representatives were involved. They persuaded the National Caucus of Black State Legislators to adopt a resolution demanding "the Obama administration remove the (Zimbabwe) sanctions." The chief sponsor was "State Senator A," described as a high-ranking member of the group's International Affairs Committee. The group's website identifies South Side State Senator Donne Trotter as chairman of that committee. We could not contact Trotter.

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