FBI’s leading role in Malcolm X Murder
Two Convictions Overturned

Malik Miah

December 12, 2021

Muhammad Aziz outside the courthouse after his conviction in the killing of Malcolm X was overturned. (Photo: Seth Wenig/AP)

“I do not need this court, these prosecutors or a piece of paper to tell me I am innocent,” said Muhammad Aziz, who spent two decades in prison.

Incredibly, a federal judge in Manhattan, New York, vacated the charges and convictions of two men convicted of assassinating Malcom X in 1965. The ruling came after a decades-long campaign by the family and supporters to reopen the case and get to the truth.

“A motion filed by the Manhattan district attorney asking a judge to toss out the convictions of Muhammad A. Aziz and Khalil Islam in the murder of Malcolm X concludes that crucial evidence was withheld during the men’s trial.

“The 43-page motion, which was granted at a hearing on Thursday, described in detail the investigation conducted by the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and the men’s lawyers.

“It concludes that if evidence withheld by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department had been given to the defense, the trial would likely have gone differently,” reported The New York Times (November 18).

FBI Role Revealed

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance revealed documents that the New York police and FBI knew who assassinated Malcolm X the day after it happened on February 21, 1965. The killer, as described by eyewitnesses, used a sawed-off shotgun.

As revealed in a Netflix 2020 series, “Who killed Malcolm X,” informants of the FBI and police were present at the killing. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was personally involved in the coverup. He had organized the spying and harassment of Malcolm as he did to other Black leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since the day Malcolm was murdered in Harlem’s Audubon Auditorium, eyewitnesses saw who did it. It was not the two men who were charged and convicted.

A third man, Mujahid Abdul Halim – also known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan – was convicted of murder in March 1966 and sentenced to life in prison.

Hagan said he was one of three shooters who shot Malcolm X, but he testified that neither Aziz nor Islam were involved. The two always said they were innocent and offered alibis. No physical evidence linked them to the crime.

Media Aided Coverup

From the outset, media fingers were pointed their finger at the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), Elijah Muhammad, whom Malcolm had challenged over a year earlier. He left the NOI and set up his own religious and secular political organizations.

There is no doubt the NOI had been infiltrated by the FBI and police. It continues to this day. Black liberation militants are still targeted by the police and federal authorities.

“Who killed Malcolm X” was not about the NOI or an alleged “family feud.” It was about government control and white supremacy. The FBI hated and despised Black leaders, seeing them as a threat and unpatriotic.

As reported by The New York Times, and many other national and international publications, “The motion includes a host of new findings. It mentions an interview with a new witness, J.M., conducted only days after the re-investigation began. J.M. said he was answering the telephone at the Nation of Islam’s Harlem mosque the day of the assassination and that his account backed up the alibi of Mr. Aziz.

“J.M. recalled receiving a phone call from Aziz at around 3:00 p.m. on February 21st, informing him that Aziz had just heard Malcolm X had been shot,” the motion says.

“J.M. then hung up and went to get the mosque’s ‘captain’ and together, the two men called Mr. Aziz back at his home.

“J.M. reached Aziz at home and told him the captain wanted to speak to him,” the motion says, a simple sentence that lends credence to Mr. Aziz’s story that he was at home at 3 p.m. when Malcolm X was shot.”

The district attorney says the case is not open because most witnesses and others are dead. But how it happened, and why, is relevant not only to history but to current attacks on the Black Lives Matters movement by the police, Donald Trump, the Republican Party and white supremacist militias and groups.

Though the 1965 trial was found to be unfair, prosecutors stopped short of declaring that Aziz and Islam were innocent of the charges. “Given the information currently available, the People [prosecution] make no determination on the question of the defendants’ actual innocence,” the motion said.

Vance was asked if he personally believed that the two men were innocent.

“Innocence is actually a term you won’t find in the penal law,” he said. “I will say this: The vacation of these convictions and the dismissal of the indictment means that they stand like any other person who has not been charged with a crime. They stand as presumed innocent.”

Daughter Demands Action

Ilyasah Shabazz was almost 3 years old when she watched her father get gunned down. She recalled her mother’s efforts to keep “the legacy and inspiration Malcolm brought to the world alive” after witnessing his “horrific” death — and demanded that those responsible be held accountable.

“Full justice will not be served until all parties involved in the orchestrated killing of our father are identified and brought to justice,” Ms. Shabazz, who is now 59, said in a statement. “It is our hope that finally the full truth can be learned.”

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