Chauncey Bailey Project

Ali Saleem Bey

Ali Saleem Bey, left, and John Muhammad Bey (HermanBustamanteJr./WestCountyTimes)
Ali Saleem Bey, left, and John Muhammad Bey (HermanBustamanteJr./WestCountyTimes)

Ali Saleem Bey, left, and John Muhammad Bey (HermanBustamanteJr./WestCountyTimes)

Ali Saleem Bey turned out to be the unidentified source for Chauncey Bailey’s investigation into Your Black Muslim Bakery’s finances. Days after the Oakland Post editor was gunned down on a downtown street in August 2007, Ali Saleem Bey stepped forward to shed more light on the story Bailey was working on. Known as Darren Wright before joining the bakery’s enterprises, he had been providing documents and information to Bailey about the once-sprawling enterprise that had fallen into bankruptcy during a tumultuous — and violent — leadership change.

Ali Saleem Bey, 43, was also part of the old guard, who contended that a younger, ruthless faction had illegally taken control of the organization after the September 2003 death of its patriarch, Yusuf Ali Bey. The elder Bey’s handpicked successor, 51-year-old Waajid Aljawwaad Bey, had mysteriously disappeared in 2004, and 23-year-old Antar Bey, one of the patriarch’s sons, quickly stepped into his place.  A year later, John Bey, the head of the bakery’s security business and part of the old guard, was ambushed and nearly killed in the driveway of his home.

Ali Saleem Bey quietly tried to get authorities to investigate the financial and corporate dealings of the bakery, hoping the elders would regain control. Before he was slain in 2005, Antar Bey had heavily mortgaged the bakery, his successor, younger brother Yusuf Bey IV, sought protection from creditors by filing for bankruptcy in 2006. But the company faced liquidation after failing to file the proper paperwork and make payments to the U.S. bankruptcy trustee.

Ali Saleem Bey turned to Bailey after he was unable to convince the Internal Revenue Service, the bankruptcy court and Oakland police to investigate his claims. At the same time, he and John Bey spent several months trying to save the bakery enterprise from liquidation.

Trading on the goodwill he and John Bey had built over the years, Ali Saleem Bey enlisted the help of prominent politicians, including U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and state Assemblyman Sandre Swanson. Despite their letters of support describing the bakery’s value to the community, a federal bankruptcy court judge refused to halt the liquidation.
The ruling came exaclty one week after Bailey was gunned down in broad daylight, allegedly by a 19-year-old bakery handyman.

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