Aljawwaad’s brief reign as bakery CEO ended in tragedy
Yusuf Bey picked Waajid Aljawwaad as his successor of the Your Black Muslim Bakery business empire’s reins – and his family says that might have doomed him to an early, shallow grave.
Aljawaad – born Carl Hambrick, raised the eldest of eight children in Tyler, Texas – had worked as a head waiter and bartender before earning an accounting degree in 1991. A few years later he converted from Pentecostal Christianity to Islam, joined the bakery organization and began a rise through the ranks which would put him among Bey’s most trusted advisers.
“I get the opportunity to work with black people, in a black environment from the top to the bottom,” he exulted to the East Bay Business Times in 2001. “Our success is a result of our efforts and we represent all black people.”
By the time Bey – by then charged with the rape of several underage girls – died of cancer Sept. 30 2003, an agreement set in place by the bakery’s board of directors with Bey’s blessing had set Aljawwaad to succeed him as CEO.
His reign would be brief.
Aljawwaad, 51, was last seen at about 5 p.m. Feb. 27, 2004 as he dropped off an associate in East Oakland. He told this person he planned to get some sleep at his 21st Street home, and then return to the bakery’s headquarters at 5832 San Pablo Ave.
He arrived neither there nor later that night at a security job in downtown Oakland. He was reported missing Feb. 29; police found no sign of a struggle at his home, although the television had been left on and his car remained parked outside.
Antar Bey – one of Bey’s many biological sons, then the bakery’s first vice president and chief operating officer — quickly took over. Minutes from a March 2 bakery board of directors meeting note Aljawwaad’s disappearance, then state: “It was suggested that Antar Bey become acting president for the next 30 days and from thereon after until his successor is chosen and qualified.”
Later, it was “Resolved that Antar Bey will serve as president and CEO of the said Corporation.”
Ali Saleem Bey, Antar’s brother-in-law, claims Antar Bey essentially took the reins by coup. He claims three of the board and family members listed as being present that night dispute Antar’s and the minutes’ account of what happened, while a fourth – whose signature appears on the minutes – actually wasn’t even there at all.
One of Aljawwaad’s sisters said she only learned about her brother’s disappearance when another sibling saw the flyers posted by bakery workers seeking information about the missing man.
“We kind of knew something wasn’t right,” she said. “But we didn’t even know where to begin, we didn’t know much about that part of his life.”
She said she did talk to John Bey, another member of the bakery’s older generation with whom Aljawwaad was close, but learned little: “I don’t think he wanted to talk… but I think he knew something happened.” John Bey himself would be wounded in a June 2005 shotgun attack that is still unsolved.
Aljawwaad’s other siblings had nothing to do with the bakery, and he rarely told them much about what went on there, his sister said.
But in the months between Bey’s death and Aljawwaad’s own disappearance, she said, he had told relatives that legal fees from Bey’s rape case had laid waste to the bakery’s finances. He’d seemed stressed by the friction between his own, older generation of bakery members and a younger faction led by Bey’s biological sons, but he never indicated he thought he was at risk.
On July 19, 2004, a woman let her dog dig in a secluded spot under trees and brush in the King Estate Recreation Area, off Fontaine Street just below Interstate 580 and the Oak Knoll area. The woman saw what appeared to be a human bone sticking out of the ground.
Waajid Aljawwaad had been found.
Wrapped in a heavy plastic tarp secured with black tape and buried about three feet deep, his remains were badly decomposed; investigators gleaned his identity first by discovering keys in the corpse’s pocket opened Aljawwaad’s car, later with a DNA match. An autopsy couldn’t determine the cause of his death, but noted what might’ve been a laceration near his right eyebrow with a dent in the skull beneath.
Aljawwaad’s sister said she called police soon after they raided the bakery headquarters last August, and essentially was told they harbored little hope of solving her brother’s slaying unless one person within the bakery would betray another.
“Of course we want justice… All we do is pray, we put it in God’s hands,” she said, adding that as her family watches “this empire crumbling, we can’t be nothing but satisfied. We may not have the person (who killed Aljawwaad) but it seems God is answering our prayers.”