While his periodic calls for the US government to release all federal files relating to the Malcolm X assassination are to be commended, many have been deeply dismayed by Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan’s persistent failure to permit the editorial staff at his Final Call newspaper (FCN) to follow the lead set by other national and international journals in publishing its own expose of the recently-unmasked Malcolm X assassin, William X Bradley.
In the wake of the 2011 publication of Manning Marable’s biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, numerous national and international publications carried articles relating to one of the book’s key revelations, namely that Mr Bradley (known today as Al-Mustafa Shabazz), a former member of the NOI’s Newark Mosque #25 and suspected assassin of Malcolm X, had recently been discovered hiding in plain sight in the South Ward area of Newark, New Jersey. Mr Bradley – who, along with his wife Carolyn Kelley Shabazz, operates the First Class Championship Development Center located at 936 Bergen Street in Newark – has never served a single day in jail for his alleged role in the 21st February 1965 atrocity and has instead spent the intervening years gleefully thumbing his nose at the entire world.
Mr Farrakhan, whose FCN prides itself on being the most widely-read and independent Black newspaper in the United States of America, has yet to carry a single story on the shocking reappearance of Mr Bradley. Indeed, the FCN had previously failed to cover the widely reported 2010 parole of confessed Malcolm X assassin Thomas Hagan whose release from prison sparked outrage throughout the world. Far from seizing on Mr Hagan’s release to renew calls for a new investigation into the Malcolm X assassination, Mr Farrakhan’s FCN imposed a total news blackout on what was plainly an NOI-relevant story.
Having voiced his conviction on numerous occasions that the Malcolm X killing had likely been carried out by what he termed ‘zealots’ from Newark Mosque #25, it struck many as odd that Mr Farrakhan would let slip by a golden opportunity to atone for the Newark mosque’s historical sins by directing its current Fruit of Islam (FOI) members, who pride themselves on closing down crack houses, to march on Mr Bradley’s establishment and demand that the suspected assassin immediately surrender himself to the authorities.
And while the FCN website has an entire features section devoted to the role played by the US government in the Malcolm X murder, no comparable effort has been made by Mr Farrakhan and the FCN staff to publish the NOI’s own internal membership files and records relating to the four individuals whom Mr Hagan named in his 1977-78 sworn affidavits as his co-assassins. With the sole exception of three minor references to ‘Talmadge Hayer’ (Mr Hagan’s erstwhile moniker) there is not a single mention anywhere on the FCN website of William X Bradley, Albert Benjamin Thomas, Wilbert McKinney or Leon Davis – the individuals who accompanied Mr Hagan into the Audubon Ballroom that fateful day. Instead, Mr Farrakhan and the NOI continue to conceal their own internal records on each of these killers – records which could help to confirm whether or not these individuals were registered members of the Newark Mosque #25 FOI at the time of the killing.
Many felt deeply insulted by the vitriol which Mr Farrakhan spewed at his audience when he addressed the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in 1996. The bare-faced effrontery he displayed in castigating those present for what he depicted as their intellectual subservience to the dictates of their white bosses while brazenly ignoring the total absence of editorial independence at the FCN, of which he is both publisher and editor-in-chief, was breathtaking to behold.
And while Mr Farrakhan is to be applauded for launching a (now closed) petition urging the US government to ‘open the Malcolm X files’ many wonder why his FCN has failed to adopt a more aggressive editorial stance when it comes to outing Mr Bradley as the cold-blooded murderer of Malcolm X. This wilful negligence can only strengthen widely-held suspicions that Mr Farrakhan has been paying Mr Bradley ‘hush money’ to keep him from revealing the chain of command through which the instructions he received to murder Malcolm X were transmitted – a chain of command which may or may not have included Mr Farrakhan himself.
Like Mr Farrakhan’s reprehensible 1998 decision to appoint convicted Malcolm X assassin Norman 3X Butler to serve as chief of security for Harlem’s Mosque #7 following his release from prison, many are convinced that Mr Farrakhan and the NOI operate a corrupt system of patronage through which individuals known to possess potentially incriminating information relating to the Malcolm X killing receive regular payments or perks from Chicago in return for their silence.
Mr Farrakhan’s periodic demands that the US government declassify all of its Malcolm X files (a call he most notably issued during his 1995 reunion with Malcolm’s widow, Dr Betty Shabazz, at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre) stands in marked contrast to his own singular failure to lead by example through the publication of the NOI’s own records on Malcolm’s known assailants. Even more galling has been the FCN’s refusal to mobilise public opinion by plastering Mr Bradley’s homicidal visage on the front pages of its online and print editions.
As leader of the NOI, Mr Farrakhan is uniquely placed to positively identify Al-Mustafa Shabazz as being little more than an older and greyer William X Bradley, the long-suspected shotgun assassin of Malcolm X. Mr Farrakhan’s continued failure to do so can only fuel suspicions of his complicity in Mr Bradley’s crime.
Having long maintained that the killers of Malcolm X were unregistered ‘zealots’ from Newark Mosque #25, Mr Farrakhan now has a moral obligation to publish all of the NOI’s membership records on William X Bradley, Leon Davis, Talmadge Hayer, Albert Benjamin Thomas and Wilbert McKinney. In addition, Mr Farrakhan must make available to the public all of the NOI’s records on former Newark Mosque #25 lieutenant Agurs Linward X Cathcart who has recently emerged as a person of interest where the Malcolm X assassination is concerned.
These records should clearly indicate the dates on which these individuals joined the NOI, the locations of the NOI temples to which they were affiliated, the positions or ranks they each held within the NOI, the exact dates on which they left the organisation and the precise circumstances and reasons for their departure. Of equal importance must be the publication of all registered membership records for Newark Mosque #25, Harlem Mosque #7, Boston Mosque #11 and Springfield Mosque #13 covering, at a minimum, the period 1960-1970.
These ‘Nation Files’ are not the US government’s to release; they are the jealously guarded secrets of Mr Farrakhan and his NOI. He must now publish them in full and without alteration, in downloadable PDF format, on the FCN website and in its print edition, by a date no later than the 21st of February 2015 – the 50th anniversary of the Malcolm X assassination. Their contents should be verified by current and former NOI mosque secretaries, auditors and book keepers (under the supervision of independent outside experts) in order to confirm their authenticity, integrity and completeness.
Any delay in their publication or any alteration, amendment, tampering with or falsification of their contents will be construed as prima facie proof of Mr Farrakhan’s personal involvement in an NOI cover-up and incontrovertible evidence of his complicity in the Malcolm X killing.
Having acknowledged his own role in setting the stage for Malcolm’s assassination, and in light of the historical guilt borne by Muhammad’s Mosque #25 in New Jersey for producing the assassins who carried out the atrocity, both Mr Farrakhan as well as the serving minister of Mosque #25 have a profound moral obligation to march a battalion of FOI soldiers down to Mr Bradley’s First Class Championship Development Center located at 936 Bergen Street in Newark and demand that he immediately surrender himself to the authorities.
As former participants, in one form or another, in the murder of Malcolm X, Mr Farrakhan and Mosque #25 must now lead the world in bringing closure to this tragic episode. And one way in which the FCN can conclusively demonstrate the editorial independence of which it so often boasts, but of which the world has seen precious little, would be to publish this letter in full within its own pages.