The Passing of Khalil Islam (Thomas 15X Johnson), The Man Wrongly Convicted of Killing Malcolm X

Posted: August 7, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I received a call late last night that Brother Khalil Islam, formally known as Thomas 15X Johnson, the man wrongly convicted in 1966 of murdering brother Malcolm X, passed away on Tues. Aug. 4th. He was 74. His funeral was scheduled to be held today, Aug 6th at the 96 th Street Masjid in New York.

I got to know Khalil many years after his release from prison, and he impressed me as a man committed to his religion and loyal to his leader, Imam W.D. Mohammed. Deeply spiritual, he accepted his fate as the will of Allah, and would often tell me about his days in the Nation of Islam when he sometimes acted as Malcolm’s driver. I last spoke to him in May of this year, when we were attempting to get him booked on a local NY television show (which never materialized for reason’s that are still unclear to me). From the time he left prison in 1986 he worked to get his conviction officially overturned and his name cleared. I would listen to him sympathetically but never had the heart to tell him that that was never going to happen. As far as the New York criminal justice system is concerned, the Malcolm X murder case was closed a long time ago.

Khalil Islam never shied away from his past, and was always quite frank in recounting his unsavory role as an N.O.I. enforcer. In Oct. of 2007 the New York Magazine wrote an extensive and fascinating article about his life authored by his friend Marc Jacobson, who also wrote American Gangster.   

In 1977  Talmadge Hayer, the only one of the five assassins captured at the Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965,  filed two sworn affidavits with the famed civil rights attorney William Kunstler, detailing the entire murder plot and revealing the names and addresses of the actual killers. In fact, Hayer confessed his guilt during the trial and absolved Thomas Johnson (Khalil Islam) and Norman 3X Butler (the other man wrongly convicted) of any role in the murder. However, due to a legal manoeuvre in which the three men were tried as a group, Hayer’s confession essentially doomed the other two men to spend nearly a quarter of a century in prison. It also didn’t help that a distraught Betty Shabazz, who with her four daughters was present the afternoon her husband was gunned down, left the courtroom crying “they killed my husband“. Khalil Islam was convicted of firing the sawed off shotgun that all experts agree was the “kill shot” that silenced the voice of Malcolm X.  

Our condolences go out to his family. To Allah we belong and to Him is our return.

Coming Soon: Biographical sketches of all five assassins of Malcolm X. 

  1. Malcolm X'er says:

    I don’t care what kind of revisionism you and Khalil choose to engage in. Khalil and his cohorts killed Malcolm on orders from that disgusting hypocrite, Elijah Muhammad. May they all roast in hell for taking Malcolm away.

  2. @ Malcolm X’er

    I completely understand your rage over this horrendous crime, but it is not just Khalil and myself who say he is innocent, but almost every scholar that has looked into this has concluded this as well.

    There has been a lot of research on this question over the years and we know posivtively the people who did it. And yes, at least one of them, aside from Hayer who confessed to his part in the murder, is still alive. Stay tuned for part two of this post.

    • BeeBee Sparrow says:

      So, I just watched your documentary on Netflix the other night, 2/14/2020. When was it made? Brother Islam has passed on? Were the innocent men ever exonerated? What now?

  3. Abu Usamah al-Aswad says:

    So when does “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” hit the store shelves?

  4. anya johnson says:

    we all know that you did not kill malcome x and it is so very sad u had to go to jail for 22 years i love u and u will alway be in my heart R.I.P I LOVE YOU

  5. anya johnson says:


  6. Emil Sanvig says:

    so sad…

  7. Laurence Westgaph says:

    As Salaam Alaikum,

    Does anyone have any definite information about the whereabouts or contact details of John Ali? I know he was interviewed recently for a documentary and I am wondering whether he is still around. Would like to speak to him for about a BBC Radio Programme I am involved in.

    Thank You

  8. Mustafaa Ashraf says:

    @ Abdur-Rahman Muhammad,

    Are you coming to the Message to Grassroots Conference in Philly on December 31?

  9. I plan on attending inshallah.

  10. Kirk Largen says:

    You are on the money with this. Thank you.

  11. Aquil says:

    They killed Malcolm and I think Talmadge Hayer still needs to pay!!! I just think if people loved Malcolm as they say they do this guy would not be walking around.

  12. Hakim Rasheed says:

    My name is Hakim Rasheed (formerly VX 0f the N.O.I.)..I knew All three men Muslims accused of the Malcom death. Not ashamed to say where or when we formed very close relations as Brothers committed to our cause propogating Islam and assiting and reforming the lives of thousands of men over the years. Few if any one living today can claim a closer relationship with either of these three than myself. As a Martial Artist and Muslim today I can say what I said over 37 years ago .They were the best that the Nation produced. the most dedicated, most disicplined, highly trained in security and self defense men you could find anywhere..and I am stating this is aViet Nam Vet X Marine myslelf. The USMC,the top of American Military had nothing on us at that time the 60’s and 70’s. After being schooled by them I you might say became as them, as it were. I am saddened by ths loss of any human life. However, as a Believer and Imam I fully accept the Will of Allah without question or reservation. One thing that I do not and never will accept nor approve of is those people who never knew these three brothers and talk and write so much about them as if they are authorities. Many are mistaken, unintentionaally, many outright lie, some mix truth and falsehood together. It’s sickening. The resullts are continued speculation, mystery, and assumptions. The only way that any outsider especially, could assertain any truth is to go to the sources, The people who were there and or knew them, which today constitutes a very short list at best. Even though I follow Quran and Sunnah, and was a supporter of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, (may Allah reward him with Jinnah, he passed during his leadership and observing Ramadan.) Allahu Alim, I still do not take any shorts. I work as A volunteer Chaplain at a hospital innyc, Director of Social Servies in a Church, Mentor at times to Interfaith Assembl on Housing and Homelessness, and JUdge and supporter of Tournaments in NYC. I appreciated the job FEGs’
    or was itFED’s Magazine did on the interview conducted with Imam Khalil Islam you can see me on facebook

    • Kahlil Johnson says:

      Hello I am Khalil Islams great grandson I never met him but want to know all I can about him. If anyone can plz send an email to my mothers email address with information about my great Grandfather I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

  13. Hakim Rasheed says:

    As Salaam Alaikum. This is in response to the two people who identify as being grandsson and daughter of Imama Khalil Islam( Thomas 15X Johnson). Contact me Imama Hakim Rasheed at 212 864 6100 x 127 or on Fcaebook or at or
    ..Be glad to meet and speak with you both Insha Allah.

  14. malcolmxfile says:

    What happened to “Biographical sketches of all five assassins of Malcolm X”

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