Malcolm X: Family of US civil rights leader to sue CIA and FBI for wrongful death

The family of slain US civil rights leader Malcolm X has marked the anniversary of his assassination in 1965 by announcing plans to sue multiple agencies, accusing them of playing a role in his death.

The CIA, the FBI, the New York Police Department and others are included in the lawsuit, with the family seeking $100 million.

Two of Malcolm X's daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz and Qubilah Shabazz, were joined by attorney Ben Crump at a news conference on Tuesday at the site of the former Audubon Ballroom in upper Manhattan, where the rights activist was fatally shot as a crowd gathered to hear him speak on February 21, 1965.

For decades questions have circulated over who was responsible for the death of the forceful advocate for black empowerment and Islam.

Three men were convicted, but two were exonerated in 2021 after a renewed investigation into the cases against them showed the evidence used to gain convictions was shaky and that authorities had held back some information.

Ilyasah Shabazz, the co-administrator of her father's estate, filed notices of claim, which is the first step in the process, saying that the agencies “conspired with each other and with other individuals and acted, and failed to act, in such a way as to bring about the wrongful death of Malcolm X."

“For years our family has fought for the truth to come to light," she said at the news conference. “We want justice served for our father.”

Emails seeking comment were sent to the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice and New York City's legal department. The DOJ and NYPD declined to comment.

Crump noted the anniversary date and said that ever since then, "there has been speculation as to who was involved in the assassination of Malcolm X.”

He cited the 2021 exonerations and said that government agencies including the Manhattan district attorney, the NYPD and the FBI “had factual evidence, exculpatory evidence that they fraudulently concealed from the men who were wrongfully convicted for the assassination of Malcolm X.”

Asked if he believes government agencies conspired to assassinate Malcolm, Crump said, “That is what we are alleging, yes. They infiltrated many civil rights organizations.”

Malcolm X adopted a more radical stance than Martin Luther King, criticising the civil rights movement and racial integration, and instead calling for black separatism and defending the use of violence for self-protection.