“God bless you, they’re exonerated,” he said through a closed door.
Mr. Halim was 23, a follower of the Black nationalist group the Nation of Islam and a member of its Newark mosque in 1964, when, he said in an affidavit years later, two men brought him into their car on a street in downtown Paterson, N.J., to discuss killing Malcolm X.
Malcolm X had spent 12 years in the Nation of Islam, rising rapidly to its top ranks as it expanded. But in 1964, fissures between him and the sect’s leader, Elijah Muhammad, widened into a messy split. Mr. Muhammad privately seemed to imply that he should be executed, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation files. And two months before the killing, Minister Louis Farrakhan wrote in the Nation’s official newspaper that Malcolm, his former mentor, was worthy of death.
So when Mr. Halim was approached in Paterson, his deep religious zeal led him to believe he was being tested, he told Peter Goldman, a journalist who interviewed him in prison for a biography of Malcolm X.
“I just believed, man. And I was the type of person that if I had to stand up for what I believe, I would do it,” Mr. Halim told Mr. Goldman.
In an affidavit, Mr. Halim recalled the planning of the assassination.
“We met a few times to discuss how to carry out this killing,” he wrote. “Sometimes we talked while driving around.”
In the affidavit, he also identified the other men he said were involved in the plot: Leon Davis, Benjamin Thomas and two men whose full names he did not know, “William X” and a man who went by “Wilbur or Kinly.”