Abdur-Rahman Muhammad is the creator of the Netflix documentary, “Who Killed Malcolm X?” Malcolm X was shot dead inside of the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, on February 21, 1965. He was 39 years old. Three men, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson were all convicted of murder in the case. Only Hayer has ever admitted to involvement in the shooting and has said that Butler and Johnson were not his accomplices. Hagen did implicate the Nation of Islam as being involved in the plot to kill Malcolm X.
According to his official website, Muhammad is a graduate of Howard University and has written for publications such as the Woodson Review and the Association of African American Life and History in the past.
Muhammad was born in Providence, Rhode Island, as Kenneth W. Oliveira, Jr. in 1962. Muhammad studied philosophy at Howard and describes himself as being exposed to “many social, political, and cultural movements for black empowerment. The group that Muhammad said that he became most involved with was the Black Islam Movement. Muhammad said that he accepted Islam in 1986 and became an imam.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Muhammad Said He Was Not Paid to Do ‘Who Killed Malcolm X?’
Muhammad spoke about the documentary’s creation in an interview with The New York Times prior to its release saying, “It bothered me that no one cared about it. I didn’t get paid to do any of this. I’ve sold cars. I’m just a working-class guy.”
Muhammad says on his website that he has dedicated more than 30 years of his life to uncovering all of the facts behind Malcolm X’s assassination.
2. Muhammad First Came to National Prominence in 2010 When He Named William Bradley as One of Malcolm X’s Assassins
In 2010, Muhammad came to national prominence when he located one of the alleged assassins, William Bradley, who had changed his hame to Almustafa Shabazz, as living in Newark with his wife. Muhammad posted Shabazz’s photo on his blog. Muhammad said that he was able to identify Shabazz thanks to connections in New Jersey’s Muslim community. Muhammad told the New York Daily News in 2015 saying, “Here’s a man who’s walking the streets of Newark with impunity, a teflon don, and nobody’s doing anything about it.”
At that time, Muhammad was working with author Manning Marable, who wrote the award-winning book, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.” While the author of “The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X,” Karl Evanzz, has said that he feels Muhammad’s work is “unreliable,” according to The New York Times. Marable passed away in 2015. Muhammad says on his official website that he began working with Marable in 2005.
Shabazz died in 2018. In one section of “Who Killed Malcolm X?, former Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker said that he knew Shabazz well but was unaware of any connection to the Malcolm X assassination. Muhammad wrote on his blog in 2010 Shabazz had used a sawed-off shotgun to shoot Malcolm X. Muhammad continued, “Time has caught up with him, and he can no longer lurk in the shadows waiting for his eventual end without having his dastardly deed made known. Mr. Bradley must now face the historical music in the land of the living.” The blog mentions that Shabazz had appeared in a commercial with then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
3. Muhammad Has Been Accused in the Past of Deliberately Targeting Powerful Muslims
Muhammad concluded his post by encouraging his followers to contact then-Attorney General Eric Holder and District Attorney for Manhattan, Cyrus Vance, in relation to his findings. In 2010, Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, accused Muhammad of constantly targeting Muslims in positions of power.
4. Muhammad Believes That Many of Malcolm X’s Followers Were Unhappy With the Civil Rights Leader Because of His Belief in the Organization of Afro-American Unity
Muhammad is quoted in Marable’s book as saying that many of Malcolm X’s followers, who had left the National of Islam at the same time as Malcolm, resented that the civil rights leader was putting more time into Organization of Afro-American Unity rather than his other organization, Muslim Mosque Inc.
In 2011, Muhammad told The New York Times why he got involved in Marable’s work saying, “Time is running out; these guys are very old. I wanted justice to be done, and I knew that Dr. Marable wanted justice to be done.”
5. Muhammad Said in 2010 That He Believed Muslims in America Had Developed a Sense of Victimhood
Muhammad wrote in a 2010 op-ed for the New York Daily News that because of the rhetoric of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, many Muslims in American had adopted a sense of victimization. In one section, Muhammad wrote, “Muslims are everywhere in this country, doing practically everything. There are Muslim doctors, lawyers and businessmen – like Park51 developer Sharif El-Gamal, who went from waiting tables just a few years ago to being a multimillionaire. There are Muslim soldiers and CIA agents. Could this be possible if America were Islamophobic?”
Muhammad was writing specifically about the Park51 project aka “the Ground Zero mosque.” Muhammad is described in the article as being a Muslim who “works to combat Islamic extremism in the American Muslim community.” In addition to criticizing CAIR in the article, Muhammad also criticized the leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, referring to Farrakhan as an “anti-Semite” and a “race-baiter.”
On his official website, Muhammad said that since the 9/11 attacks he “began to direct more of his attention to research and writing, and his articles appeared in many newspapers and scholarly journals. He became an outspoken critic of religious extremism and was called to testify on Capitol Hill to offer his thoughts on how the nation should go about combating it.”
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