The spiritual leader of the African Hebrew Israelites, a polygamous vegan group that believes some black Americans descended from a Jewish tribe, has died aged 75.

Ben Ammi Ben Israel died Saturday, the group announced on Sunday. He was born Ben Carter in Chicago in 1939.

He maintained that some black Americans descend from the tribe of Judah, who migrated to Africa after the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in A.D. 70.

In 1966, he had a vision that the angel Gabriel told him to "return to the holy land by way in which we came," a spokeswoman for the group said. He led a few hundred followers to Liberia, the West African republic settled by freed slaves in the 19th century. In 1969 they moved to Israel.