Malcolm X’s daughter is suing US agencies for US$100 million in damages

Malcolm X was an American civil rights leader who made a big impact in his time.

Malcolm X’s daughter is suing US agencies for US$100 million in damages
Attorney Ben Crump speaks alongside Qubilah and IIyasah Shabazz, two of the daughters of the late slain civil rights leader Malcolm X, at a news conference announcing a lawsuit against government agencies and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for the alleged assassination and concealment of evidence surrounding Malcolm X’s murder, in New York City, New York, U.S. February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The backstory: Malcolm X was an American civil rights leader who made a big impact in his time. He was once a spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, a group that believed in Black separatism. But after more than 10 years aligned with the Nation, he changed his heart and moderated some of his views on racial separation. This caused some disagreement with other members and even led to death threats.

Sadly, Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 when he was only 39 years old. Witnesses identified three shooters, but the shooting fueled conspiracy theories over who was involved. The autopsy showed Malcolm had been shot over 20 times.  

In 1966, three men were convicted of murdering Malcolm. One confessed, and the other two men, Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Khalil Islam, were in prison for over 20 years before their convictions were thrown out. The pair maintained their innocence the entire time they were in jail.

More recently: Fast forward to 2021, when a New York judge dismissed the convictions of Aziz and Islam. The court found the Manhattan district attorney's office had withheld evidence that could have cleared them, but it wasn't revealed until decades later. After all those years in prison, their names were exonerated, and the families of Aziz and Islam successfully sued New York City, which settled the case for US$26 million.

The development: Now, Malcolm's daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, is suing the FBI, CIA and NYPD for allegedly hiding evidence that ties them to her father's assassination. She's seeking US$100 million in damages for wrongful death. Her lawyer, Ben Crump, accused high-ranking officials, including late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, of conspiring to kill Malcolm. The NYPD said it wouldn't comment on a pending lawsuit, and the FBI and CIA have yet to respond.

Key comments:

"For years, our family has fought for the truth to come to light concerning his murder and we'd like our father to receive the justice that he deserves," said Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcolm X's third daughter who filed the lawsuit.

"The governmental agencies had factual and exculpatory evidence that they fraudulently concealed from the family of Malcolm X and the men wrongly convicted of crimes surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X," said lawyer Ben Crump in a statement.

"The rhetorical question is this: if the government compensated the two gentlemen that were wrongfully convicted for the assassination of Malcolm X with tens of millions of dollars, then what is to be the compensation for the daughters who suffered the most from the assassination of Malcolm X?," said Crump.

"I regret that this court cannot fully undo the serious miscarriages of injustice in this case and give you back the many years that you lost," said Ellen Biben, the Manhattan judge, when she dismissed the convictions of Aziz and Islam in 2021.