WASHINGTON - The State Department harshly criticized Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan yesterday for "cavorting" with those who "support international terrorism" after he was quoted in news reports as calling the United States the "Great Satan" during a trip to Iran.
State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns condemned as "shameful" statements attributed to Farrakhan by the official Iranian news agency.
Among the reports to reach Washington, Farrakhan was quoted by an Iranian newspaper as saying in Tehran: "You can quote me: God will destroy America at the hands of Moslems."
Reached at the Nation of Islam's Chicago headquarters, Abdul Allah Muhammad, who said he was an assistant to Farrakhan, would not comment directly on Farrakhan's statements but he said Farrakhan was likely to discuss them during a speech scheduled for Feb. 25 in Chicago.
The Iran comments were the latest to inflame U.S. policy-makers since Farrakhan launched his "world friendship" tour several weeks ago. While he was in Libya, he reportedly praised leader Moammar Gadhafi, who pledged $1 billion to finance political activities in the United States. But after members of Congress threatened to summon Farrakhan to explain the gift, Libya denied Gadhafi made the pledge.
Farrakhan went to Iran to attend events marking the 17th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed shah of Iran and brought the late Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini to power.