Thomas Hagan (born March 16, 1941) is a former member of the Nation of Islam who was one of the assassins that killed Malcolm X in 1965. For a while he also went by the name of Talmadge X Hayer and his chosen Islamic name is Mujahid Abdul Halim.
Assassination of Malcolm X
When Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, the police arrested Hagan at the scene of the crime. He later confessed the crime but claimed that Thomas Johnson (Khalil Islam) and Norman Butler (Muhammad Abd Al-Aziz), two suspects who were arrested at a later point in time, were not involved in the assassination.
Hagan stated in 1977 in an affidavit, that he had planned the assassination with four others (Johnson and Butler not being among them) to seek revenge for Malcolm X's public criticism of Elijah Muhammad. With regard to the assassination itself, he said that one of his accomplices distracted Malcolm X's bodyguards by starting an argument about having been pickpocketed. When the bodyguards moved toward the diversion and away from Malcolm X, a man with a shotgun stepped up to him and shot him in the chest. After that, Hagan himself and another of his accomplices shot several rounds at Malcolm X with handguns.
Hagan, Butler and Johnson all received a 20-years-to-life sentence in 1966. During his time in jail, Hagan earned bachelor's and master's degrees. During his 45 years in jail, he filed 16 times for parole, denied each time. Butler was paroled in 1985 and Johnson in 1987. However, from 1988 on, Hagan was allowed to participate in a work release program, which allowed him to seek work outside prison and required him to spend only two days a week in a minimum security facility in Manhattan. The rest of the week, he was allowed to stay with his wife and children. Among other places, he worked at the Crown Heights Youth Collective, as a counselor at a homeless shelter on Ward's Island, and in a fast food restaurant. In March 2010, Hagan was granted parole and released from prison at the end of April. He is still a practicing Muslim, but has left the Nation of Islam, no longer agreeing with their ideology and has expressed regret for having shot Malcolm X as well.
Portrayal in the arts
- Andy Newmann, John Eligon: Killer of Malcolm X Is Granted Parole. New York Times, 2010-3-20
- James Fanelli: Quiet Life of an X Assassin. New York Post, 2008-5-18
- Associated Press: Assassin of Malcolm X Seeks Parole from New York State High Court. Jet, volume 113, no. 22, 2008-6-9, ISSN 0021-5996
- David J. Garrow: Does Anyone Care Who Killed Malcolm X?. New York Times, 1993-2-21