NEW YORK — Police concerns that media-hungry terrorists would attack Michael Jackson's trial as a "soft target" led to a request for federal help, according to FBI files kept on the late pop star. The documents also show that the FBI helped facilitate interviews in the Philippines by California authorities investigating Jackson over allegations that he had sexually abused boys.
The FBI monitored Jackson for more than a decade, but the files contain no major revelations about his private life and the bureau apparently never developed any solid evidence against him.
In 2004, the Santa Maria Police Department in California asked for FBI "involvement" after Jackson was arrested for child molestation. Police, according to the FBI, said they believed the court case would be a "soft target" for terrorism because of the "worldwide media coverage" the trial would attract.
The FBI concluded there were no threats, but did note the presence in an early court appearance of "The Nation of Islam, represented by its security unit Fruits of Islam," and of a New Black Panther Party member whose name was left blank in the files. Jackson used Nation of Islam bodyguards during the legal proceedings.
Back in September 1993, an investigator from the Los Angeles Police Department and another from the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office arrived in Manila to speak to two former employees of Jackson's Neverland ranch who claimed they saw the singer fondle young boys.
Their trip came after the LAPD had asked the FBI if it wanted to work a possible case against Jackson for transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes. The FBI checked with the U.S. Attorney's Office, which declined.
The files say an FBI agent accompanied the California officials to the first interview to make sure there were no problems.
The documents, dating from 1992 to 2005, were made public Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press and other media after Jackson's death June 25, at age 50. The FBI initially said it had about 600 pages in its files but released 333 pages, citing privacy rules and the desire to protect investigative techniques.