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Decades after Malcolm X was assassinated in Manhattan, fresh allegations have surfaced that the NYPD and FBI were involved the activist’s slaying.
Malcolm X was killed at the Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965 just as he was preparing to make a speech. Three men were later convicted in the case, but new information, in the form of a letter from a former undercover NYPD officer named Ray Wood, who had been working at the time Malcolm X was killed, suggests there may have been more to the assassination.
Wood claimed in a confession letter dated Jan. 25, 2011 that he had been responsible for ensuring that two members of Malcolm X’s security detail were arrested several days before the assassination was carried out, according to local station WNBC.
"My job was to infiltrate civil rights organizations throughout New York City, to find evidence of criminal activity, so the FBI could discredit and arrest its leaders," Wood stated in the letter, which was shared over the weekend by his cousin Reggie Wood, according to the local station. "Under the direction of my handlers I was told to encourage leaders and members of civil rights groups to commit felonious acts."
Just days before Malcolm X was killed, Wood was instructed by his handler to encourage two “key” security detail members of Malcolm X’s team to participate in a plot to bomb the Statute of Liberty, according to the letter, also obtained by ABC News.
"It was my assignment to draw the two men into a felonious federal crime, so that they could be arrested by the FBI and kept away from managing Malcolm X's door security on February 21, 1965," Wood wrote. "At that time I was not aware that Malcolm X was the target."
Malcolm X was killed several days later, after his security detail at the ballroom had been reduced due to the arrests.
Wood said his actions had been carried out under duress and fear of retaliation and he believed he could have faced “detrimental consequences” had he refused his orders.
"After witnessing repeated brutality at the hands of my coworkers (Police), I tried to resign," he wrote. "Instead I was threatened with arrest by pinning marijuana and alcohol trafficking charges on me if I did not follow through with the assignments."
Wood wrote the letter in 2011 as he was fighting cancer and gave it to his cousin, instructing him not to share the information until after he died. Wood later went into remission and lived until November 2020.
His alleged role in the assassination continued to haunt him over the years.
"It is my hope that this information is received with the understanding that I have carried these secrets with a heavy heart and remorsefully regret my participation in this matter," Wood wrote in the letter.
Reggie Wood decided to make the letter public during a press conference Saturday surrounded by Malcolm X’s daughters, Qubilah, Ilyasah, and Gamilah Shabazz.
“For 10 years, I have carried this confession secretly in fear of what could happen to my family and myself if the government found out what I knew,” Reggie Wood said, according to WNBC.
Malcolm X’s family is hoping the letter will provide more clues their father murder.
“Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” Ilyasah Shabazz said, according to Reuters.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced it planned to launch a new investigation into the Malcolm X’s death last year after the Netflix documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?” raised questions about the case.
Shortly after Saturday’s press conference, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office issued a statement saying a review of the matter remains “active and ongoing.”
Det. Denise Moroney, a spokesperson for the NYPD, told Oxygen.com in a statement they are cooperating with the investigation.
“Several months ago, the Manhattan District Attorney initiated a review of the investigation and prosecution that resulted in two convictions for the murder of Malcom X,” she said. “The NYPD has provided all available records relevant to that case to the District Attorney. The Department remains committed to assist with that review in any way.”
Malcolm X became a powerful voice in the civil rights movement as the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam. He broke with the group in 1964 just a year before his death.
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