Malcolm X, who later went by the name el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, was a black Nebraska-born Muslim minister and human rights activist who gained a large following and FBI attention as a vocal spokesman for the Nation of Islam. His decision to part ways with the Afro-centric political and religious movement allegedly led to his murder.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and the surviving daughters of Malcolm X on Saturday, a day before the 56th anniversary of X’s assassination, unveiled in New York’s Audubon Ballroom new allegations about events leading up to the activist’s 1965 death. Three members of the Nation of Islam were previously convicted for their respective roles in the murder.
“Even though this is going to be an astonishing revelation from the past … past is prologue,” Crump said Saturday, alongside co-counsels Ray Hamlin and Paul Napoli.
Reggie Wood, the administrator of Ray Wood’s estate, read the letter to Qubiliah, Ilyasah, and Gamilah Shabazz, daughters of the late activist, detailing how the now-deceased cop was ordered to have Shabazz’s security detail arrested days before his 1965 assassination.
Crump’s statements came hours after his law firm first brought the allegations to light.
The release claimed that Wood, “without any training,” was ordered to “infiltrate civil rights organizations and encourage leaders and members to commit felonious acts,” including “ensuring that Malcolm X’s security detail was arrested days prior to the assassination, guaranteeing Malcolm X didn’t have door security while at the Audubon Ballroom, where he was killed on Feb. 21, 1965.”
A spokesperson for the NYPD’s Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information told CBS News that the police department has “has provided all available records relevant to that case to the [Manhattan] District Attorney,” which had already launched a review of the initial investigation and prosecution for the assassination.
Three members of the Nation of Islam – Mujahid Abdul Halim, then known by the names Thomas Hagan and Talmadge X Hayer; Muhammad Abdul Aziz, then known as Norman 3X Butler; and Khalil Islam, then known as Thomas 15X Johnson – were arrested, tried and convicted for the activist’s murder and received 20-years-to-life sentences for their roles in the murders.
Bullet holes in back of stage where Malcolm X was shot
“I was there, I know what happened and I know the people who were there,” Halim, who was then going by Hayer, said in 1966. He told the New York Post that he has “regrets and sorrow” for the fatal shooting.
Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, met Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad and joined the Islamic religious movement while serving a 10-year prison sentence for larceny, and breaking and entering.
Malcolm X moved to Detroit, Michigan, following his early release in 1952, and worked as an active member and advocate for the Nation of Islam, which borrows certain teachings from Islam.
Malcolm X, full-length portrait, standing, facing slightly left, being interviewed by reporters.
The activist came under the watch of the FBI beginning in 1953, particularly for remarks that state, or white, violence should be met with violence. Surveillance of Malcolm X and his family would continue through 1964, when he separated from the Nation of Islam and adopted the Muslim name el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.
The activist declared at the time that the firebombing took place “on the orders of Elijah Muhammad.”