Malcolm X's Daughter to Sue Govt. Agencies for Alleged Role in Murder

Malcolm X's Daughter to Sue Govt. Agencies for Alleged Role in Murder
Last updated Feb 22, 2023
Image credit: Reuters


  • The daughter of slain African American civil rights leader Malcolm X announced a $100M wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against multiple US government agencies, alleging they were involved in her father’s murder nearly six decades ago.[1]
  • Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s six daughters, announced the lawsuit against the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the FBI, and the CIA at a press conference flanked by one of her sisters and civil rights lawyer Ben Crump.[2]
  • Three men were convicted of the murder, though a New York Judge threw out two of the cases — against Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, who spent decades in prison – in 2021, declaring their convictions to be a miscarriage of justice after evidence emerged that police and prosecutors withheld evidence supporting their innocence.[3]
  • At the press conference Shabazz claimed the agencies "conspired with each other and with other individuals," adding that, "For years our family has fought for the truth to come to light," and that "We want justice served for our father."[4]
  • Feb. 21 marked the 58th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination at the hands of three gunmen, just before he was due to speak at New York's Audubon Ballroom – the same venue the lawsuit was announced in.[5]
  • The assassination occurred amid a generation-long, secret counterintelligence operation – run out of the FBI – known as COINTELPRO, which targeted, among others, Black civil rights and and Black nationalist groups.[6]


Narrative A

US counter-subversion operations like COINTELPRO considered activists and leaders like Malcolm X as threats that had to be neutralized by any means necessary. While we may not have direct proof implicating US intelligence agencies in his murder, the FBI’s fingerprints are all over Malcolm X’s assassination, and an unfettered, thorough investigation must be conducted if the powerful are to be held accountable.

Narrative B

While there are still questions to be answered surrounding Malcolm X's assassination, it's important to note that the third man convicted in the murder — whose case was not overturned — had confessed, which doesn't bode well for the government-did-it theory. Though justifiably so, this lawsuit could also simply be Malcolm X's daughter seeking compensation for the pain she's endured after decades of legal battles and controversy involving her father's murder.

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