Plots, Theories and Facts About the Death of Malcolm X

Over the decades since that fateful February afternoon in 1965, questions surrounding the death of this provocative and intrepid man still plague us. The Smoking Gun: The Malcolm X Files, reveals that an FBI report, dated February 22, 1965, states Malcolm X had "ten bullet wounds in his chest, thigh and ankle, plus four bullet creases in the chest and thigh. This autopsy located one nine millimeter slug, one forty five caliber slug and several shotgun pellets in his body." Both blasts from the shotgun had torn through Malcolm X's heart and aorta.

Police were only able to find the sawed-off, 12 gauge shotgun and over 30 casings from a .45 pistol and a 9 millimeter automatic, possibly a Luger. The .45 caliber pistol was turned in later by one of the NOI bodyguards, who had taken it home, cleaned it and then turned it in to the FBI. The Luger was never found. Witnesses provided the names of two more suspects in the assassination, 26-year-old Norman 3X Butler, an NOI member; and 29-year-old Thomas 15X Johnson, an NOI member. Both were known NOI enforcers, but neither could have gotten into the ballroom without the utmost suspicion and scrutiny. Malcolm's aides and bodyguards swear that neither man was present the day of the assassination.

The initial report made by the NYC police, and local newspapers, stated that two men were arrested and taken to the police station. Later, that report disappeared and was vehemently denied to exist by the police who stated that Talmadge Hayer was the only person brought in.

For some reason, Gene Roberts had faded from the entire scenario, but some theorists suspect that he was the second man detained and was quickly and quietly released to protect his cover as an undercover operative for BOSS. Just who Gene Roberts was has never been found out. BOSS was so secretive an agency that even the police were not aware of the organization and its agents. Even their personnel files were kept secret. Could Gene Roberts have been involved in the case, and was Roberts really his name? What about the missing Luger? Who really fired it? Why didn't Roberts testify in the Hayer, Butler, and Johnson trial as he did later on in the 'Panther 21' trial against New York City's Black Panther faction? Both were Robert's undercover cases. Why so much secrecy? Witnesses say that just before the shooting, Roberts was standing on the stage near Malcolm X. He had signaled to the bodyguards to be replaced and then moved to another position away from the stage.

During the trial, Hayer confessed to having fired shots from the .45 into Malcolm's body, yet he testified that Butler and Johnson were not present at the assassination and were not involved in the shooting. Both men had plausible alibis, so were not seriously considered by the prosecutor. Supposedly, the first police report also stated that five men were involved in the assassination. That reported statement, somehow disappeared from the record. Only the three men, Hayer, Butler and Johnson, were accused, tried and convicted. It is still widely believed that Talmadge Hayer, with four other men, actively took part in the assassination of Malcolm X. Those four suspected assassins still remain unknown to this day.

The Judas Factor

Karl Evanzz, a staff writer for the Washington Post, researched more than 300,000 pages of declassified FBI and CIA documents for his book, The Judas Factor. In its introduction he states, "After analyzing these resources, I am convinced that Louis E. Lomax, an industrious African-American journalist who befriended Malcolm X in the late 1950's, had practically solved the riddle of his assassination." He believed that Malcolm X was set up for the assassination by a former friend, John Ali, who was an agent/informer for an intelligence agency. Malcolm X had previously commented that Ali had been responsible for his ouster from the NOI. Ali eventually rose to the position of National Secretary of the NOI. Lomax was later killed in an automobile accident (due to brake failure).

It is now known that government and law enforcement agencies planted infiltrators in the OAAU, NOI and almost all of the other civil rights movement organizations. Some of these agent/informers were highly placed. Their assignments were not only to report on all of their activities, plans and members, but to create disruption, distrust and to frighten any supporters. The involvement of the government's "Cointelpro" (counter-intelligence program) operation to "neutralize" Malcolm X through BOSS, the NOI, and organized crime is strongly inferred by Evanzz in his book. The goal of the Cointelpro program was to neutralize radical and subversive political organizations and dissidents through covert means, such as "black-bag jobs," where agents/informers would enter homes and offices without warrants and remove or copy files, records ore plant incriminating material.

Martin Luther King with Malcolm X

Many believe that Malcolm X and other civil rights leaders were targets of these operations by Cointelpro. Fear may have been growing that Malcolm X was gaining the support of Martin Luther King to make the struggles of African-Americans an international issue by presenting a petition of human rights violations to the International Court of Justice conference at The Hague. In fact, Malcolm X's assassination took place just two weeks before that conference.

There are also those who believe that organized crime figures may have murdered Malcolm X because of his effective crusade against narcotics, alcohol and crime in Harlem. His successful efforts to clean up the streets were achieved by introducing members of the community to black pride, the doctrines of Islam and the creation of jobs through the establishment of independent black businesses supported by the NOI. However, the mafia's involvement has been dismissed by investigators and most of those who were closest to Malcolm.

All fingers pointed to Muslims who were jealous of Malcolm's growing success at recruiting many of Elijah Muhammad's followers into the Muslim Mosque Incorporated (MMI). Many Muslims believed Malcolm X was rivaling their leader and trying to smear Elijah Muhammad's reputation by publicly denouncing him as an adulterer. Muhammad had accepted Malcolm as a son and felt that Malcolm had betrayed him and the NOI by deviating from the true goals of the Islamic faith and peaceful teachings of the Koran.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Malcolm said that Kennedy "never foresaw that the chickens would come home to roost so soon." This comment was against Elijah Muhammad's orders to not make any statements regarding Kennedy's death and led to his suspending Malcolm X from any and all activities related to the NOI ministry. In defiance of the suspension, Malcolm proceeded to set up his own mosque. Muhammad then forbade all Muslims to speak to Malcolm.

It was at this time that anonymous phone calls and unsigned letters threatening Malcolm X's life began. Some of the calls were made to his home as well as to the local newspapers and wire services. The NOI ordered him to relinquish his home and car, which were owned by them and he was taken to court for an eviction trial.

Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan, a top NOI minister and spokesman, still denies he had anything to do with part of a statement made in the Muslim newspaper Muhammad Speaks that: "Only those who wish to be led to hell, or to their doom, will follow Malcolm. The die is set, and Malcolm shall not escape, especially after such evil, foolish talk about his benefactor Such a man is worthy of death and would have been met with death if it had not been for Muhammad's confidence in Allah for victory over his enemies."

Later, Farrakhan declared his love for Malcolm X, stating that, "He was my mentor, my teacher, a marvelous example to me of what a man should be." Farrakhan eventually made a public apology to Betty Shabazz, to which she remarked, "Minister Farrakhan, may your conceptual framework keep broadening."


Evanzz, Karl. The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1992. 389 pages.
By the time Malcolm X was cut down by conspirators in February 1965, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had been following his every move for years. Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam cult, which had a grudge against Malcolm, was riddled with FBI and police informants. Even Malcolm's bodyguard Gene Roberts, who appeared to be trying to revive him after he was hit, later admitted to being an undercover police agent. Three Black Muslims were convicted for the assassination, but only one of them, Talmadge Hayer, was trapped at the scene and his testimony is not considered reliable.

U.S. officials in the 1960s thought nothing of knocking off popular African leaders when it served their conception of the national interest. A case in point is Patrice Lumumba; the planning for this assassination can be followed by reading the official U.S. cable traffic. And there's the curious episode in Cairo in July, 1964. Two white men had been following Malcolm all day. While they watched him eat he suddenly had to be rushed to the hospital to have his stomach pumped. The analysis of the stomach contents showed that the toxin was not from natural food poisoning, but by then the waiter had already disappeared. During Malcolm's last months, a series of incidents and narrow escapes made it clear to him that his days were numbered.

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