Jewish Florist From Brooklyn Was Khaddafy’s Pen Pal

Eighty-one-year-old man says he also exchanged letters with the late President Harry Truman and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini

Monday, Oct 31, 2011  |  Updated 8:06 AM EDT
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An elderly Jewish florist from Brooklyn who counts unlikely pen-pal relationships among his favorite pastimes engaged in a decades-long correspondence with late Libyan dictator Moammar Khaddafy that, at times, drew the attention of the CIA for its curious nature.

Louis Schlamowitz, 81, tells The New York Post he scribed his first letter to Khaddafy shortly after the militant colonel seized control of Libya in 1969.

In that post, Schlamowitz, who has written with a host of characters from the late President Harry Truman to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, says he congratulated Khaddafy on his coup and asked for an autographed picture to add to his “Middle East collection.”

Khaddafy obliged shortly thereafter and the two began an unlikely correspondence that would last until Schlamowitz learned of Libya’s role in the Pan Am bombing that killed 270 people, many of them New Yorkers, when the plane blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

Before Lockerbie, “We kept corresponding with each other,” Schloamowitz told the Post. “I’d send Christmas card and letters to him about my different viewpoints about the United States of Israel. I said the state of Israel would never be split because it’s the homeland of the Jewish people.”

Khaddafy responded with a two-page rant lambasting both the United States and Israel.

The CIA checked in with Schlamowitz at one point to probe him about his peculiar exchanges with the likes of Khaddafy and the Ayatollah, but once he showed agents his photo collection, they deemed the correspondence an innocuous hobby and let him be, he told the Post.

Schlamowitz sent Khaddafy another letter about six months before his death but it was returned unopened. He lamented the way the dictator died.

“They really gave him the one-two-punch,” Schlamowitz told the Post. “But that’s politics.”  

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