In November 1990, religious cult leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh was arrested on federal racketeering charges — including 14 killings, two attempted killings, extortion and arson. He was later convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and served 18 years in prison before his death in 2007. On Sunday, March 10, at 7 p.m., Oxygen will take viewers into the rise and fall of the Nation of Yahweh cult with a two-hour special Uncovered: The Cult of Yahweh Ben Yahweh. In an exclusive interview with In Touch, former Nation of Yahweh cult member Khalil Amani opened up about his experience.
“I was a college student in 1979, 1980 at Miami Dade community college and at the time I was learning a lot about black history,” Amani told In Touch. At the time, he was interested in the nation of Islam when his fraternity brother introduced him to literature by Brother Moses, which one of Yahweh Ben Yahweh’s aliases. Amani said his interest was piqued because Yahweh Ben Yahweh preached that the black people were the original Jews in the Bible and that Jesus was a person of color. “And so, I asked where the class was and I went that next Wednesday to that first meeting and fell headlong into the Nation of Yahweh,” Amani explained.
He was in the cult for five years and said when he first met Yahweh Ben Yahweh, he feared him and he believed that he was standing in the presence of Jesus Christ.
“After the first year, that’s when the first crime was committed,” Amani said, referencing the beheading of Aston Green in November 1981. “I saw these things happen but at the time, I justified them because Yahweh Ben Yahweh would teach and preach for hours and justify the murder of people through the Bible. He was quoting old testament scriptures where it showed that God actually tells the people to go kill other nations even killing the women and the children. And so when the first murder occurred, I was taken aback by it, I was shaken by it but it wasn’t enough to make me leave because I understood that this is how God operates, according to what I was being indoctrinated with. I had never seen anything like that but I understood why it was happening.”
Amani said that it wasn’t until 1984 that he realized that the Nation of Yahweh was a cult. He compared the relationship he had with the cult to that of a male/female abusive relationship. “It took me a year to get it together to finally get the strength to leave,” he admitted. But he was still fearful that there would be repercussions for leaving the cult.
“I remember the first day when I left that night, and waking up the next morning, I was amazed that I was still alive because I was so brainwashed that I thought that God would immediately kill me because being with Yahweh Ben Yahweh was basically heaven on earth and if you left, you were in hell,” Amani said. “So I thought that a lightning bolt or something would come down and strike me or he would have his killers come to get me because I knew Yahweh Ben Yahweh had killers. It took me quite some time to realize that even after leaving that I was actually free.”
Uncovered: The Cult of Yahweh Ben Yahweh airs on Oxygen on Sunday, March 10 at 7 p.m. ET.