OAKLAND — Yusuf Bey IV sometimes claims to be God. He says recent world crises and natural disasters happened because he has been in jail the past 20 months. Like his late father, Yusuf Bey, he says it is right to have more than one wife.
He thinks a "mother ship" orbits the Earth — one with which he maintains contact.
He thinks President Barack Obama is secretly a Black Muslim who sent Bey IV a clandestine message by wearing a red tie at his inauguration. His presidency was predicted by prophecy — it is a sign of the approaching end times. Bey IV says that when he's exonerated on the charges he now faces — including those of ordering the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey — he will take his rightful place as a presidential adviser.
Hundreds of hours of Bey IV's phone calls and discussions with jail visitors were routinely recorded during his incarceration at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin after his arrest during an Aug. 3, 2007, raid on Your Black Muslim Bakery. In those calls, he regularly discusses polygamy, hatred of other races, violence, and other extremist views including his claim that as leader of his sect, he is God in the flesh.
The conversations reveal much about Bey IV, who is accused of offering two of his followers advice on how to acquire loans through fraud in exchange for killing Bailey, and ordering what one of them described in testimony as an "eye for eye" slaying of a relative of a man convicted of killing his brother Antar Bey in 2005.
The conversations show how much he is influenced by the rhetoric of his late father, bakery founder Yusuf Bey, the firebrand leader who faced counts of child rape when he died in 2003. They also show his apparent confidence that he will be exonerated of the charges against him and will return to Oakland.
"When I get out, you watch how I carry my name," Bey IV said in a recorded jail phone call late last year with the woman he calls his first wife, Tiffany Wade, who also goes by the name Alaia Bey. In another call, Bey IV said he is "ready for anything. Let's get ready to rumble."
Though he has denied involvement in Bailey's death, the suspected gunman in that slaying, Devaughndre Broussard, told prosecutors Bey IV ordered the killing and used religious rhetoric to both persuade him to carry it out and, at first, claim lone responsibility for it. Bey IV has been jailed without bail on unrelated kidnapping and torture charges since August 2007.
"He started hitting me with that religious (expletive)," Broussard said in the statement. "You can't just say you a believer based on your words alone. "... You got to act upon your faith."
In the phone calls, Bey IV often espouses beliefs similar to the rancorous screeds his father made for years on a weekly cable television show and during his 1994 campaign for Oakland mayor that imploded behind anti-Semitic statements.
The now defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery is best described as a "splinter group or faction" of the Nation of Islam that became its own sect, said Paul Lee, a Detroit historian on the Nation of Islam who knew and studied Bey.
The elder Bey "was a clown. He was just bizarre. It was all about him, his own assumed theology. I am surprised anyone could follow it," Lee said.
Bey never escaped the type of hardline theology that led to the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, Lee said.
"He was so patently opportunistic, just a big charismatic personality," Lee said. When he came across Bey's cable television show, "I thought, 'I better study this cat. "... My god, this is a throwback.'"‰"
Bey IV seems to mimic much of his father's rhetoric.
"They have a sick, warped way because of the father. The father started all of this," said a person deeply familiar with the Bey family and its followers who asked not to be identified because of fear of retribution.
"The father ran around like he was God," the person said. "That's the way they were all brought up."
Like his father, who sired more than 40 children by a dozen or more women, some of them as young as 13, Bey IV frequently discusses in the calls his desire for polygamist relationships and multiple wives.
Yusuf Bey "thought he was God's gift to women. They were sexual beings and slaves to him," the person said.
Bey IV also echoes other parts of his father's philosophies that cut to the beginnings of the Black Muslim movement.
"I am no goddamn American," he said in one phone call. "I am an Asiatic." That's a reference to the teachings of Nobel Drew Ali, who founded Moorish Science Temple in Newark, N.J. in 1931. It was a forerunner of the Nation of Islam.
Ali claimed that "all blacks are Asiatics" who were "the original inhabitants of the Earth and the progenitors of all nonwhite nations" according to the 2001 book "The Nation of Islam: Understanding the Black Muslims," by Steven Tsoukalas.
Ali told his followers to take the name "Bey," to operate small businesses to be self-sufficient, to display the star and crescent, and that they were the world's superior race and that God would cleanse the Earth of other, impure races in a fiery apocalypse.
The founder of the original "Lost-Found Nation of Islam," W.D. Fard borrowed much of Ali's teachings, especially about racial superiority. Whites, he said, were the product of an evil scientist named Yukab, who conducted genetic experiments and created a race of inferior devils.
Railing against the "devils" persecuting him is often a theme of Bey IV's calls.
He has also referred to himself as God and claimed to be other biblical figures, such as Joseph.
UC Berkeley African-American studies professor Ula Taylor, who has written on the Black Power movement, said such claims are not part of typical Black Muslim philosophy.
"I don't know of any of them saying they're God. That sounds delusional to me," Taylor said.
Bailey's sister, Lorelei Waqia, a practicing Muslim, scoffed at the idea that Bey IV is anything other than a simple criminal.
"He's never been a man of God, a man of peace," she said. "His whole track record shows nothing but violence and thinking that's he's above the law, and for a while he was."
Last year, a lawyer then representing Bey IV, Theodore Johnson, while arguing that his client should be released on bail, said that Oakland needed Bey IV free so that he could provide "spiritual guidance" to his followers.
A judge denied the motion.
Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob Butler and Mary Fricker are independent journalists. Reach them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Chauncey Bailey Project, go to www. chaunceybaileyproject.org.