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Who killed Malcolm X?

Elderly witnesses allege government/police coverup

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Attorney Ben Crump (at podium) with Malcolm X’s daughter, Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz, and Khaleel Sultarn Sayyed at a press conference on February 21 (photo by Ariama C. Long).

by Ariama C. Long, Report for America Corps, Amsterdam News

After more than 50 years, it’s hard to believe that the assassination of civil rights icon Malcolm X has not been fully solved. A few years ago, his longtime jailed accused and convicted ‘killers’ were exonerated. In February, witnesses came forward alleging that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and federal government agencies had a hand in snuffing out X’s life.

X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, at age 39, while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom. He was shot a total of 21 times by a group of men, in front of his wife and daughters. At the time, three Black Muslim men (Muhammad Aziz, the late Khalil Islam, and Mujahid Abdul Halim) were convicted of killing him and imprisoned. Aziz and Islam maintained their innocence and were paroled in the 1980s. Halim was paroled in 2010.

Aziz and Islam’s convictions were overturned in 2021 by Judge Ellen Biben after new evidence emerged that the NYPD and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) withheld information that would have cast doubt on them as suspects, reported the Associated Press (AP). It’s now known that there were also undercover cops in the ballroom at the time of X’s killing, some of whom testified to interfering with X’s security team.

Which begs the question: Who killed Malcolm X?

On Feb. 21, at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center (the same ballroom where X was shot), two elderly witnesses who used to be on X’s security detail came forward with the legal assistance of civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Flint Taylor. Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s daughters, was also in attendance.

Walter Augustus Bowe, 93, and Khaleel Sultarn Sayyed, a.k.a., Ramakrishna, 81, were arrested a week before X’s assassination, jailed for about 18 months, and had never spoken before publicly. Sayyed was present for the conference, but Bowe was reportedly not feeling well.

In Sayyed’s affidavit, he stated that he was introduced to Raymond A. Wood, an undercover police officer at the time. He witnessed Wood bring up the idea of destroying the Statue of Liberty at a meeting but was not taken seriously.

“I was asked by a close follower of Malcolm X to serve as security at Malcolm X’s home, after it was firebombed on February 14, 1965,” said Sayyed. “I was offered this opportunity because it was widely known I respected Malcolm X and was interested in the OAAU (Organization of Afro-American Unity).”

Five days before X’s shooting, Sayyed and Bowe were wrongfully arrested and accused of plotting to attack a national monument. They have both said in sworn affidavits that they believe their arrests were directly connected to an alleged conspiracy by the FBI and the NYPD’s Bureau of Special Services and Investigations unit (later called the Special Intelligence Services or the Special Services Division)  to kill X.

Similarly, it is now known that the Chicago police played a hand in the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, leaders of the Black Panther Party, said Taylor who worked on the case for 13 years. In December 1969, special police raided the Black Panther Party apartment in Chicago, and Hampton and Clark were left dead in a hail of gunfire. The police falsely claimed that there was a fierce shootout where shots were fired back at the police. However, bullet holes and blood pools proved that bullets were sprayed into the rooms as the men slept. Hampton was shot at point-blank range in his bed.

The police who raided the apartment weren’t indicted.

Sayyed and Bowe have now joined with the family of Malcolm X and a legal team to figure out exactly why and how government agencies had allegedly hidden evidence in the assassination of X.

Crump said they have requested information from the city and the Department of Justice about the undercover agents and officers present in the ballroom when X was killed. They have been stonewalled so far, but are determined not to give up.

“I think they know we’re getting close. That’s why they refuse to release any of the information,” said Crump at the press conference.

(Ariama C. Long is a reporter for America Corps who writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Donations to match the RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one. Make a tax-deductible gift of any amount by visiting <bit.ly/amnews1>. This post first appeared on New York Amsterdam News).

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