Family of Malcolm X claims letter proves FBI and NYPD involved in his murder

Daughters of assassinated civil rights leader demand reopening of investigation

Malcolm X (right) with Martin Luther King Jr. Date unknown
Public domain
(Image credit: Malcolm X (right) with Martin Luther King Jr. Date unknown)

The probe into the murder of civil rights activist Malcolm X should be reopened after new evidence emerged that suggests the FBI and New York Police Department (NYPD) conspired in his death, his daughters have claimed.

Members of Malcolm X's family say that “a letter written by a New York police officer” shows the FBI and NYPD “were behind the 1965 assassination of the famed black leader”, The Washington Post reports.

The letter, written in 2011 by the now-dead Raymond A. Wood, states that Wood was asked by senior officers to “coax two members of Malcolm X’s security team into committing crimes” resulting in their arrest “just a few days” before the murder, the paper adds.

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“I was a black New York City undercover police officer between May of 1964 through May of 1971,” Wood’s letter says. “I participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to my own black people.

“Under the direction of my handlers, I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups to commit felonious acts.”

As a result of their arrests, the two security staff were later unable to secure the door of the Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X had been speaking when he was gunned down by members of the Nation of Islam political and religious movement.

One of his daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz, told a press conference on Saturday she had lived with decades of uncertainty, adding: “Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated”, the BBC reports.

Three men were convicted of the murder in March 1966 and sentenced to life in prison. However, the Manhattan district attorney launched a review of the convictions in 2020 after pressure from the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal group that campaigns for justice for individuals it says have been wrongly convicted.

In a statement, the NYPD said that it has “provided all available records relevant to that case to the district attorney”, adding: “The department remains committed to assist with that review in any way.” It did not comment directly on the content of Wood’s letter.

The FBI is yet to comment publicly on either the letter or the review of the 1966 convictions.

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