How Malcolm X's Assassination Investigation Was Mishandled

Muhammad A. Khaziz and Khalil Islam lived life behind bars for decades for the crime of assassinating controversial civil rights movement leader Malcolm X, despite maintaining their innocence and long-running rumors and allegations of a mishandled trial (via The New York Times). Those claims and rumors likely have truth to them, as the two murder convictions are expected to be thrown out on Thursday, November 18, nearly 60 years after Malcolm X's death in 1965. 

The shocking overturn of such an important court decision comes from new evidence that confirms that the prosecution, the FBI, and the NYPD withheld key evidence that likely would have seen two of the accused assassins acquitted, as the cover-up would have pointed to different suspects. Although the more likely suspects have not been identified, as they are dead, and some questions are still left unanswered by the investigation, it confirms the decades-long suspicions of many historians who questioned the case from the beginning.

Was there a conspiracy around the trial?

A long-running theory was that the American government wanted Malcolm X dead. The leader of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X was more focused on direct action, including the possibility of violence, to end segregation and systemic racism than was his more pacifist counterpart, Martin Luther King Jr. The family of Ray Wood, a former undercover police officer, say that he wrote a deathbed confession, admitting that he was involved in a conspiracy to kill Malcolm X. The confession fueled the investigation that is expected to see Khaziz and Islam exonerated (via ABC).

Wood claimed to his family that it was his job to make sure Malcolm X's security detail were arrested, just before Malcolm was due to speak at the Audubon Ballroom, where he was killed. According to The New York Times, further evidence of a conspiracy from the FBI and NYPD were not found in the investigation. What was confirmed was a sad truth that will not have shocked many: that the government wanted to hastily convict innocent Black Muslim men for the death of Malcolm X, and hid key documents and evidence that were either difficult or impossible to find for the recent investigation.