Two Men Convicted Will Be Exonerated In Malcolm X Murder Case: On Thursday, two men convicted in the 1965 murder of Black civil rights hero Malcolm X were exonerated during a court hearing.
Judge Ellen Biben of the New York County Supreme Court granted Muhammad Aziz as well as the late Khalil Islam’s motion to dismiss their convictions, putting an end to a more than 55+ years effort to remove their names.
Authorities promptly detained three persons after the assassination of a Black civil rights leader, one of whom was Norman 3X Butler, now known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz.
Despite Muhammad’s repeated protestations of innocence and evidence to the contrary, he and two others were found guilty of murder.
‘Soul of a Nation Presents: X/onerated – The Murder of Malcolm X and 55 Years to Justice,’ an ABC News documentary, examines the disputed conviction and how Muhammad was cleared of involvement more than five decades later.
So, shall we investigate what transpired?
Muhammad Abdul Aziz: What Was The Case Against Him?
Malcolm X spoke to a group of supporters at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, New York, on February 21, 1965. He had left the Nation of Islam by then and publicly criticized its leader, Elijah Muhammad.
The FBI and the police were both spying on Malcolm, creating a stressful scenario all around. His home had been firebombed just a week before when he and his family were inside.
Many shooters came in and started shooting just after Malcolm entered the stage at the ballroom.
Malcolm had been hit multiple times and was dead by 3:30 p.m. that day. All but one of the assailants were apprehended when one of Malcolm’s bodyguards shot him.
Thomas Hagan, afterwards Mujahid Abdul Halim, was his name. He came from a mosque in New Jersey where he was a member of the Nation of Islam.
Authorities then apprehended two other guys who were members of Malcolm’s Harlem, New Jersey mosque.
Aziz and Thomas 15X Johnson were their names (Khalil Islam). Although both had alibis, they were arrested.
Aziz was healing from leg injuries, while Islam claimed to have arthritis at home. Furthermore, a doctor testified that he treated Aziz just hours well before killing him in a Bronx, New York hospital.
The Who Killed Malcom X doc on Netflix is remarkable. Nine police informants in the room that day and Malcolm’s bodyguard was an undercover officer. Come. On. Now. pic.twitter.com/wUxutCJL6H
— Rob Williams (@BobJWilliams) February 26, 2020
Both Aziz and Islam claimed that they would not have entered the auditorium that day because the police would have prevented them.
The members of the Harlem mosque, according to the couple, believed Malcolm was a rebel and hence were not allowed to attend the ceremony on February 21.
Halim testified during their trial in 1966 that he was involved in the murder but that Aziz and Islam were not. Not only that, but no tangible evidence linked them to the crime.
Halim signed an affidavit more than a decade later, naming his collaborators as 4 members of the Nation of Islam from a mosque in Newark, New Jersey.
They were all found guilty and condemned to life in jail despite this. From FBI files, a lawyer determined that at least one person of the assassination squad was from the Newark mosque, according to an informant.
Halim also gave information about the assassination’s details and strategy. Despite this, in 1978, a motion to overturn Aziz and Islam’s convictions was denied.
Many people believed the investigation was mishandled throughout the years, a sentiment mirrored by one of the investigators that investigated the case.
William Bradley, who was mentioned as one of Halim’s four accomplices, later changed his identity to Almustafa Shabazz, according to him.
According to Abdur-Rahman and other academics, Almustafa was the one who fired the gun which killed Malcolm.
He, on the other hand, denied any involvement in the crime and died in 2018. The assassination’s other three suspects have all been confirmed deceased.
What happened to Muhammad Abdul Aziz And Where Is He?
In 1985, Aziz was freed on parole after serving 20 years in jail. Two years later, Islam was released, but he died in 2009.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office reinvestigated the case in January 2020, based on fresh study and previously inaccessible documents made public.
FBI records were kept from the prosecution and defense during the trial, according to the lawyers for Aziz. Those documents contained incriminating material which could have vindicated the men’s names.
An undercover NYPD officer who was part of Malcolm X’s inner circle and present at the ballroom that day was uncovered.
However, the prosecution was never informed of this information. According to records, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director at the time, directed informants not to discuss their work with the agency.
A judge granted a petition to exonerate Aziz and Islam was granted in November 2021 by a judge.
Aziz sued the state of New York for his wrongful conviction in December 2021.
“While I don’t need a court, prosecutors, or a piece of paper to tell me I’m innocent,” Aziz said following the ruling, “I am delighted that my family, friends, and the attorneys who have worked and supported me all these years are finally having the truth we’ve all known legally recognized.”
Now in his 80s, he appears to be spending time with his family and continuing to enjoy his well-deserved freedom.
On the other hand, Aziz has stayed out of the spotlight, with his last known location being New York.