Civil Rights Lawyer Ben Crump Presents New Witness in Malcolm X’s 1965 Assassination

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
July 27, 2023US News
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Civil Rights Lawyer Ben Crump Presents New Witness in Malcolm X’s 1965 Assassination
Headshot of American political activist Malcolm X (1925 - 1965) holding a fist full of U.S. currency during a speech at Urline Arena, Washington, in August 1963. (Richard Saunders/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A witness the FBI allegedly ignored for decades is ready to come forward with new testimony about the 1965 assassination of civil rights activist Malcolm X, civil rights attorney Ben Crump has said.

Flanked by his co-counsel and some of Malcolm X’s surviving family members at a press conference on Tuesday, Mr. Crump announced, “the purpose of this press conference is to continue to reveal the truth in the conspiracy to assassinate Malcolm X.”

Mr. Crump and his team proceeded to name 84-year-old Mustafa Hassan, an associate of Malcolm X, whom they allege witnessed the civil rights figure being shot.

Mr. Hassan read from an affidavit, claiming he witnessed the shooting and the ensuing fracas as followers of Malcolm X subdued the shooter; Talmadge X. Hagan (also known as Thomas Hayer and as Mujahid Abdul Halim). As the crowd swarmed around Mr. Hagan and began beating him, Mr. Hassan recalled New York City Police officers intervened to stop the beating and arrest Mr. Hagan. While Mr. Hagan had been affiliated with the Nation of Islam—an organization Malcolm X had been a part of and later renounced—Mr. Hassan claimed to have heard NYPD officers asking if Mr. Hagan was “with us” at the time they intervened to stop Malcolm X’s followers from attacking Mr. Hagan.

Mr. Hagan was convicted of the killing. Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam were also charged and convicted in the killing.

“From my vantage point, this was an attempt by the police to assist in him getting away,” Mr. Hassan said.

Mr. Hassan said law enforcement officials who responded after the assassination never sought his testimony after the killing.

Questions About NYPD, FBI Involvement

Mr. Crump said he was now advancing this witness testimony to reexamine the NYPD and FBI’s connection to the 1965 assassination.

In 2021, co-defendants Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam had their convictions overturned after arguing that key exculpatory evidence was withheld during their original trials.

At the Tuesday press conference, Mr. Hassan described his disillusionment with how law enforcement addressed the assassination. He said he eventually worried at the time that if he continued to make noise about the case, he could also be treated as a suspect. For this reason, he said he left the United States for several months.

During the press conference, Mr. Crump and co-counsel Ray Hamlin raised allegations that the FBI had informants working among the Nation of Islam and viewed Malcolm X as a threat and sought to “do something” about the civil rights activist.

“What we’re saying is this conspiracy goes up to the top. [Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover] said to the New York Police Department setting word down in the FBI files ‘do something about Malcolm X,'” Mr. Crump claimed. “And so we’re putting it all in context the fact when police first run up to the person who has just shot Malcolm X are they trying to stop them? No, what they’re saying is ‘is he with us?’ because they don’t know if their person was assigned to shoot Malcolm or not.”

During the press event, Mr. Hassan and Mr. Crump both noted the claims of Eugene Roberts, an undercover NYPD officer who said he believed he witnessed a “dry run” rehearsal of the assassination.

“Were some of the informants told to assassinate Malcolm X, or were those informants told to keep people back? Were they told to get rid of his security detail so it could be easier to complete the mission? We can’t tell you verbatim what they did because for 58 years, the American government and law enforcement have colluded to make sure that [Malcolm X’s surviving family members] never know the truth,” Mr. Crump went on.

NTD News reached out to the FBI and NYPD for comment, but neither law enforcement agency responded by the time this article was published.

Mr. Crump has previously represented the family of Trayvon Martin in litigation following the black teenager’s 2012 death at the hands of George Zimmerman; a case for which Mr. Zimmerman was found not guilty after arguing self-defense grounds. Mr. Crump has also represented the family of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody in May of 2020, an incident that inspired widespread riots and protests against police throughout the country.

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