Muhammad Aziz, center, stands outside the courthouse with members of his family after his conviction in the killing of Malcolm X was vacated, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in New York. A Manhattan judge dismissed the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, after prosecutors and the men's lawyers said a renewed investigation found new evidence that the men were not involved with the killing and determined that authorities withheld some of what they knew. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

After finally being exonerated decades after his wrongful conviction in the assassination of Malcolm X, Muhammad Aziz is pursuing civil action against the city and state of New York for their role in his unjust imprisonment. The David B. Shanies Law Office announced in a Dec. 14 press release, the filing of a civil claim against the State of New York and notice of claim against the City of New York on behalf of Mr. Aziz. The innocent man’s wrongful conviction for the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X was vacated on Nov. 18 by the New York State Supreme Court. (Read Final Call Vol. 41 No. 8)

“The claims arise from Mr. Aziz’s arrest, prosecution, and resulting wrongful conviction in 1965 and 1966 in New York County for murder, more than 20 years of wrongful incarceration, and subsequent damages caused by the Respondents’ wrongful acts and omissions, and the City of New York’s wrongful policies, practices, and customs,” the city claim states in part.

“The wrongful acts include, but are not limited to: false statements and testimony, suppression of evidence of Mr. Aziz’s innocence, fabrication of evidence, subornation of perjury, and abuse of process,” the documents continue. 

A New York judge recently exonerated Mr. Aziz, now 83 (known then as Norman 3X Butler) and Kahlil Islam (known then as Thomas 15X Johnson), two of the three men convicted of murdering Malcolm X. Both men had always maintained their innocence and the FBI and New York Police Department knew from the beginning the two were not involved and were nowhere near the Audubon Ballroom that fateful day.


Court documents for the state claim Mr. Aziz spent 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit and “more than 55 years living with the hardship and indignity attendant to being unjustly branded as a convicted murderer of one of the most important civil rights leaders in history.”

Similar actions on behalf of the Estate of Khalil Islam, who died in 2009 at age 74, are expected to follow shortly, the attorneys stated. The U.S. federal government and law enforcement’s role and complicity in the assassination of Malcolm X with infiltrators, agents and informants through the FBI Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) were tactics employed to foment tension and division in the Nation of Islam among its members. Malcolm’s organizations, Muslim Mosque Incorporated and the Organization of Afro-American Unity were also infiltrated.  

“Numerous NYPD and FBI informants and undercover officers witnessed the murder of Malcolm X. That included Eugene (“Gene”) Roberts, who was at the time posing as a security guard for Malcolm X, while secretly working for the NYPD’s Bureau of Special Services (also called “BOSS,” “BOSSI,” and the “Red Squad”),” the civil suit notes. —Final Call Staff