Two men convicted of killing Malcolm X will be exonerated after 55 years

Two men who have spent decades behind bars after being convicted of killing Malcolm X are set to be exonerated.

Malcolm X was killed in 1965, after which three men were convicted. Two of them have maintained that they were innocent and now, after 55 years, their voices are being heard. 

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has spent 22 months investigating the case, working alongside the Innocence Project. He found that key pieces of evidence were withheld during trial. One of the problems he repeatedly ran into while investigating was that several witnesses and people part of the case had died and some of the evidence hadn’t been kept or could no longer be tested.

Vance uncovered FBI documents which indicated that Aziz and Islam were not guilty, and also found that despite there being multiple eyewitnesses, none were asked for descriptions.

A letter from an undercover NYPD cop was released last year, in which he said he was pushed to coerce Malcolm X’s security into committing crimes so that they would be arrested. As a result, just days before his final speech, Malcolm X was left with no security detail.

In 1966, Muhammad A. Aziz, 83, Khalil Islam, who died in 2009, and Thomas Hagan, also known as Mujahid Abdul Halim, 80, were convicted of the murder of Malcolm X. Hagan admitted to the murder, pleading guilty. He was granted parole in 2010. However Aziz and Islam, who died in prison, pleaded not guilty.

They both applied for appeals, which were denied. Hagan argued in trial that Aziz and Islam were innocent and when told of their exoneration, he said, “God bless you, they’re exonerated.”




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