A handful of Malcolm X scholars say the 45-year-old mystery of who really pulled the trigger and killed the iconic black leader has been solved, and are wondering why the news media aren't giving it more attention.
Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a historian who writes for the Woodson Review and other publications of the respected Association for the Study of African American Life and History, identified the trigger man on his blog last month as William Bradley, about 72 years old, and known today as Mustafa Shabazz.
"He is the man who fired the first and deadliest shot which ripped through the chest of the powerful Black leader on that cold 21st day of February, 1965," Muhammad wrote. "How ironic is it that 'Willie' Bradley appears in a recent public safety campaign commercial for Mayor Cory Booker" of Newark?
Speaking about Muhammad, A. Peter Bailey, a onetime president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, an aide to Malcolm X and a pallbearer at his funeral, told Journal-isms, "It seems to me he has documented it rather well."
Three members of the Nation of Islam, the religious group that Malcolm had repudiated, were convicted in the killing of Malcolm at New York's Audubon Ballroom. One, Thomas Hagan, who just turned 69, was released last month after 23 years behind bars and 22 more in a work-release program. The two others, paroled in the 1980s after more than 20 years in prison, always protested their innocence.
Many have long maintained there were actually five assassins — one of them Bradley. But Bradley went to prison on charges of threatening to kill, and authorities never charged him with the Malcolm X assassination.
Karl Evanzz, a former Washington Post researcher and author of two books on the Nation of Islam, one of them "The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X," told Journal-isms, "With this new information, Bradley ought to be exposed and prosecuted for depriving Malcolm X of his civil rights in the same way that the Klansmen who killed black activists were prosecuted for violating the civil rights of black and white activists in the South during the 1960s. Bradley killed Malcolm X to stop him from exercising his freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly.
"Thomas Hagan served 45 years in prison for his role in killing Malcolm X. Bradley hasn't served 45 seconds."
Muhammad said he was able to use his contacts in the New Jersey Muslim community to identify Bradley as Shabazz, ultimately leading to pointing him out in the Booker campaign commercial. [Bradley appears in this commercial at 8 seconds.] "What's new is that Bradley has been living the high life" for years in Newark, "and nobody said a damn thing about it," Muhammad told Journal-isms. "This ought to be exposed."
In 1992, Zak A. Kondo, who wrote what Bailey called the definitive account of Malcolm's assassination, "Conspiracys: Unravelling the Assassination of Malcolm X," implicated government agencies as well as the Nation of Islam in the killing.
Kondo gave biographical sketches of those he called the five assassins. Bradley was one:
"27 years old, stocky build, 5'10" or 5'11" tall, dark brown complexion, close-cropped hair, lived in Newark, N.J., member Newark Mosque and FOI [Fruit of Islam], known as a stick-up man. In 1979, he was serving a 7-15 year sentence in the Caldwell State Prison, Bergen County, N.J., and refused to discuss the assassination.
"I have been told that he is no longer in prison and refuses to admit his role in Malcolm's murder. The puzzling fact about Bradley is his use of the shotgun during the murder. He handled it — one of the most difficult weapons to fire — like a professional, firing it from the hip and emptying both barrels.
"I am hard-pressed to explain where a young brother in the mid-60s learned to master so difficult a weapon. I interviewed one brother who knows Bradley. He contends that a surprising number of people in Newark knew that Bradley was a killer. The brother recalls one being in a bar talking to Bradley. Shortly after the assassin left, another looked at him and said, 'you know, that's a killer.' Years later, the brother learned that Malcolm had been one of Bradley's victims."
New York Times Finds Coverup in Haitian Prison Deaths
An investigation by the New York Times indicates that as inmates sought to escape during Haiti's massive earthquake in January, "Haitian authorities shot unarmed prisoners and then sought to cover it up. Many of the bodies were buried in an unmarked grave," the newspaper reported on Sunday.
The story challenged the official version of events, that authorities did not use lethal force but rather found lifeless bodies when they entered the prison at Les Cayes, Haiti.
"Prison officials would not allow The Times to enter the walled prison compound, which sits directly behind the police station in the heart of town. But reporters interviewed six witnesses to the disturbance as well as five others who visited the prison either immediately after the shootings or the next day," according to the story by Deborah Sontag and Walt Bogdanich, datelined Les Cayes.
"None saw inmates firing weapons or any evidence that inmates killed inmates. Instead, witnesses said the police shot unarmed prisoners, some in the prison yard, others in their cells. Afterward, the authorities failed to notify inmates’ relatives of the deaths, buried bodies without conducting autopsies and burned the surviving prisoners’ bloodstained clothing and shoes."
The Times also said it reviewed confidential Haitian and United Nations reports and interviewed former detainees, guards, prison cooks, wardens, police officials, judicial officials and relatives of dead prisoners.
"For four months, American and United Nations officials have made no public comments about the killings at Les Cayes, saying they were urging the Haitians to handle the matter themselves. But after The Times repeatedly raised questions about the case with American officials, the United States Embassy sent a human rights officer to Les Cayes.
"The United Nations mission chief in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, has now ordered the United Nations police commissioner here to begin an independent inquiry."
Matthew Purdy, The Times' investigations editor, did not respond to inquiries about the Times' reporting of the story.