The family of the late black activist and civil rights leader Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, released a letter claiming the FBI and the New York Police Department played a role in his 1965 assassination.
At a news conference on Saturday, the family said the letter was written by a former undercover police officer on his deathbed in 2011. They claim Raymond Wood, the officer, wrote that he had been convinced by his supervisors at the NYPD to persuade two members of Malcolm X’s security team to attempt a bombing of the Statue of Liberty, for which they were arrested. The pair were therefore not present at New York’s Audubon Ballroom event days later, where Malcolm X was slated to speak and later was killed by gunmen.
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The letter claims there was a conspiracy on the part of the NYPD and FBI to kill Malcolm X, who was the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam and was a proponent of black separatism. Reggie Wood, a cousin of Raymond, presented the letter to Malcolm X’s family. He participated in the Saturday press conference and read the letter aloud, claiming it had been first sent to his father.
Before beginning, Reggie said that he had known about the information for some time.
“Hopefully, this helps you to understand more clearly where Ray was coming from and also understand what I’ve been dealing with for the last 10 years after finding out this information,” he said to introduce his statement. Reggie added that Ray didn’t want the information released until after his death, saying he died in November 2020.
“I Raymond A. Wood, being of sound mind and body, wish to confess the following: I was a black New York City undercover police officer,” Wood’s purported letter began. “I participated in actions that, in hindsight, were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own black people. My actions on behalf of the New York City Police Department … were under duress and fear that if I did not follow the orders of my handlers, I could face detrimental consequences.”
“After witnessing repeated brutality at the hands of my coworkers … I tried to resign,” he added. “Instead, I was threatened with arrest by pinning marijuana and alcohol trafficking charges on me if I did not follow through with the assignments. Under the direction of my handlers, I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups to commit felonious acts. The Statue of Liberty bombing idea was created by my supervisor/handler.”
In 1965, Walter Bowe, Robert Collier, and Khaleel Sayyed were charged with conspiring to destroy government property and to smuggle explosives into the United States in an attempt to bomb the Statue of Liberty, according to Judge Leonard Moore in an opinion he wrote following an appeal of the convictions. Raymond was the chief witness in the case. Sayyed and Bowe took to the stand to tell the jury that the plans had originated with and been suggested by Wood. All three defendants were ultimately convicted.
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Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted in the shooting of Malcolm X. The leader had broken with the group in 1964 and established the Muslim Mosque. One of the defendants, Talmadge Hayer, confessed to the crime but has claimed that his alleged co-conspirators, Khalil Islam and Muhammad Abdul Aziz, are innocent.
The letter from Raymond claims that Islam was arrested to protect his cover “and the secrets of the FBI and NYPD.” Raymond says Islam was wrongfully convicted. Islam died in 2009, but Aziz is still fighting to be freed.
A Netflix documentary, Who Killed Malcolm X?, released earlier this month, has brought new attention to the case.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office released a statement on Saturday saying its “review of this matter is active and ongoing.”
After an inquiry from the Washington Examiner, the FBI’s New York office released a statement on Twitter about the matter, saying it was “aware of recent reporting regarding the circumstances surrounding Malcolm X’s death.” It added that it was working with the Manhattan district attorney’s office to provide “relevant documents from FBI holdings.”
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“Several months ago, the Manhattan District Attorney initiated a review of the investigation and prosecution that resulted in two convictions for the murder of Malcolm X,” the NYPD said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “The NYPD has provided all available records relevant to that case to the District Attorney. The Department remains committed to assist with that review in any way.”
Sunday marks the 56th anniversary of Malcolm X’s killing. He was 39 at the time of the shooting.
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