The FBI's War on the Left: A Short History of COINTELPRO | Black Agenda  Report

Malcolm X’s daughter and grandson, Fred Hampton’s son and Tupac Shakur, son of Black Panther Party leaders, were among those targeted by deadly counterintelligence operations

On November 18, 2021, a judge exonerated two of the three men convicted of assassinating Malcolm X, partly due to newly revealed FBI documents implicating their paid informants at the scene and cover-up regarding the actual assassins.[1]

A mass of evidence supports that U.S. intelligence orchestrated Malcolm X’s assassination and the assassination of numerous other Black leaders, along with murderously targeting their descendants. A sampling of these atrocities reveals the use of similar tactics and personnel in this targeting.

Muhammad Aziz talks outside the courthouse with members of his family after his conviction in the killing of Malcolm X was vacated on Thursday.
Muhammad Aziz talks outside the courthouse with members of his family after his conviction in the killing of Malcolm X was vacated. [Source:]

Targeted Malcolm X’s Daughter Qubilah, and Grandson Malcolm

Evidence supports that the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), started in the 1950s, directed police intelligence agents to assassinate Malcolm X. FBI documents revealed in the court case exonerating two of the convicted assassins implicated FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover directly in silencing his paid informants at the scene of Malcolm X’s murder.[2]

Several police intelligence agents have been implicated in Malcolm’s assassination. Convicted Malcolm X assassin Talmadge Hayer detailed in an affidavit that four different people were involved in Malcolm X’s fatal shooting in 1965.[3] These included William Bradley, a former Green Beret who fired a shotgun at Malcolm, and was identified by eyewitness Roland Sheppard as someone that appeared to then enter his own office at a nearby police station.[4]

Who Is Malcolm X's Alleged Killer William Bradley From Netflix Doc? | True  Crime Buzz
William Bradley [Source:]

Roland Sheppard said that Bradley had his seat in front of Malcolm X reserved by Eugene Roberts. After the shooting, Roberts ran to Malcolm X’s body as he laid on the floor dying. Roberts worked in Malcolm’s security unit.[5]

In 1970, Roberts identified himself at a trial as working for the New York Police Department. He admitted working undercover for the FBI-collaborating NYPD Bureau of Special Services and Investigation (BOSSI) at that trial.

A person speaking to a group of people

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Gene Roberts (in circle) was an undercover NYPD detective who infiltrated Malcolm X’s organization and became part of his main security detail. [Source:]

The CIA monitored Malcolm internationally.[6]

In 1995, the government dropped a murder for hire charge against Malcolm X’s daughter Qubilah Shabazz. Shabazz said her boyfriend had talked her into a conversation about killing Louis Farrakhan for involvement in her father’s assassination. That boyfriend was a longtime government informant, who Shabazz said entrapped her.[7]

In 1971, activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and stole thousands of documents, revealing their murderous Counterintelligence Program activities. This led the FBI to officially close COINTELPRO that year.[8] Former FBI COINTELPRO agent Wes Swearingen revealed in a 1995 memoir that the FBI then continued COINTELPRO activities under different names until at least the mid-1990s when his memoir was published.[9]

Qubilah Shabazz - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Qubilah Shabazz [Source:]

In 2013, Mexican authorities arrested two men for murdering Qubilah Shabazz’s son, 28-year-old Malcolm Shabazz, in Mexico City. Malcolm had become an activist and was meeting with California-based labor movement organizers there. In a blog post earlier that year, Malcolm said he was being harassed by the FBI.[10]

Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of civil rights leader Malcolm X, reportedly  killed in Mexico - CBS News
The late Malcolm Shabazz. [Source:]

At that time, Fred Hampton, Jr., whose father headed the Illinois Black Panther Party, said he and Malcolm Shabazz had planned a “Legacy Tour” schedule of events speaking together in many cities.

Fred Hampton, Jr., is National Chairman of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (and the Panther Cubs). Hampton said that he expelled his Minister of Information J.R. Valrey from his group for continuous sabotage, believing he was a government agent, soon after Shabazz’s death. He said Valrey lured Malcolm Shabazz to the Mexican location where Shabazz was murdered.[11]

Same Tactics and Personnel Targeted Malcolm, MLK, Panthers, Hampton Jr., Afeni and Tupac

Undercover agent Eugene Roberts was the first to arrive at Malcolm X’s dying body. Malcolm’s wife Betty Shabazz (1934-1997), a nurse, first tried to run to her husband, but was initially held back by Eugene’s wife Joan Roberts. Shabazz then threw her against the wall and ran to her husband.[12]

Dr. Betty Shabazz (U.S. National Park Service)
Dr. Betty Shabazz [Source:]

At that 1965 assassination, Eugene Roberts reported checking Malcolm X’s pulse. He then told Shabazz that Malcolm was dead.[13]

Similarly, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s friend, attorney William Pepper, stated in one of his three books covering evidence of the U.S. government’s assassination of MLK, that Military Intelligence undercover agent Marrell McCollough first arrived at MLK’s wounded body in 1968. McCollough checked MLK’s life signs and indicated to Special Forces Group snipers that the assassination was successful and they could disengage. McCullough soon received a promotion to the CIA.[14]

Leta McCollough on Learning to Accept Her Father's Secret CIA Past
CIA agent Marrell McCollough [Source:]

Eugene Roberts belied his reported love “trying to save” Malcolm X, as his police work continued against Malcolm’s followers, such as Lumumba and Afeni Shakur in the Harlem, New York, chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968.

Lumumba Shakur
Lumumba Shakur, left. [Source:]

In 1969, New York prosecutors indicted 21 New York City area Panther leaders for a trial that concluded in 1971. Roberts and five other undercover police intelligence agents who infiltrated the Harlem and Bronx Black Panthers revealed themselves in court, in an unsuccessful attempt to frame the Panther leaders.[15]

Why The Panther 21 Case Matters and Political Prisoners Should Be Freed and  Exonerated | newafrikan77
Panther 21. [Source:]

Afeni Shakur legally represented herself in court while she was pregnant with her son, future rap icon Tupac Shakur. By the age of 18, Tupac was elected National Chairman of the New Afrikan Panthers, before producing chart-topping CDs and starring in six films.[16]

After a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by this writer, a Department of Justice worker admitted that the FBI had a file on Tupac containing more than 4,000 pages.[17]

FBI COINTELPRO Director Richard Held headed the Los Angeles unit when he targeted Tupac’s godfather—Los Angeles Panther leader Geronimo Pratt.[18] Held then directed the San Francisco Bay Area office and was caught lying about Panther National co-founder Huey Newton’s murder there in 1989.[19]

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Richard Held [Source:]

Two years later, police choked Tupac unconscious and passively watched strangers shoot at him in the Bay Area a year after that.[20]

Plainclothes police also shot at Tupac in Atlanta in 1993. Investigating Los Angeles Police Detective Russell Poole believed his fellow police officer killed Tupac at the age of 25 in 1996.[21] Some 25 years later, his influence continues with a Tupac museum that opened in Los Angeles in January 2022, and top rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eminem paying tribute to him at their 2022 Super Bowl halftime performance.[22]

Panther “cub” Tupac was close in age to fellow Panther cub Fred Hampton, Jr. The 2021 Academy Award-winning film, Judas and the Black Messiah, showed how the FBI orchestrated the Chicago police murder of Illinois Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Chicago in December 1969.[23]

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) - IMDb

Chicago police similarly targeted 22-year-old Fred Hampton. Jr., in 1992 when he headed the socialist Democratic Uhuru Movement.

Honoring the legacy of an activist: Fred Hampton Jr. to speak, April 15 -  News - Illinois State
Fred Hampton Jr. [Source:]

Hampton Jr. said police officer Joseph Grubesette, one of the officers who had arrested his father in 1969, led the arrest of him in 1992, for arson at the time of the Los Angeles riots.[24]

Chicago Police Officers Seem to Enjoy Carrying Out Fred Hampton's Body
Chicago police officers carrying out Fred Hampton’s body after he was murdered. [Source:]

At Hampton’s trial, the judge admitted that no fire occurred but still sentenced Hampton to 18 years in prison. Hampton also reported several attempts to murder him before, during and after his nine-year imprisonment.[25]

Use of Romantic Undercover Agents and a ‘Threat-Timing’ Tactic

The instance of Malcom X’s daughter Qubilah Shabazz having a boyfriend being paid by the government to entrap her does not appear isolated. Los Angeles Panther leader Geronimo Pratt (later Ji Jaga) wrote a letter to the activist community in 2007 that former National Panther Spokesperson Kathleen Cleaver sent out for him, stating that former Oakland Panther Elaine Brown was an undercover agent.[26]

Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall (The COINTELPRO Papers), along with former Panther-turned filmmaker Lee Lew Lee (All Power to the People), also quoted many Panthers and showed much evidence supporting Pratt and Cleaver’s report on Brown.

Pratt stated that Brown slept with many Panther leaders and Black nationalist United Slaves (US) leaders, setting up the murders of LA Panther leaders John Huggins and “Bunchy” Carter.[27]

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Brown sued Pratt and Cleaver for defamation but, after the judge read all the evidence, the case was dismissed.[28]

Similar to Qubilah Shabazz’s boyfriend possibly contributing to her drug problem in the 1990s, Pratt also said Huey Newton told him that Elaine Brown brought beautiful women and cocaine to him shortly after his prison release. This led to Newton’s cocaine abuse.

Huey Newton, Co-Founder of Black Panther Party
Huey P. Newton in 1970: Was he set up to be killed by Elaine Brown? [Source:]

Evidence similarly supports that Legs Saunders was an undercover agent who entered one-time Harlem Panther leader Afeni Shakur’s life and started her addiction to cocaine. Kenneth “Legs” Saunders (aka Legs McNeil) dealt drugs and “would stick a [crack]pipe in mouth,” every night according to Afeni.[29]

Legs Saunders was an associate of “Mr. Untouchable”—New York drug lord Nicky Barnes. Barnes assisted the first national “Black drug kingpin,” Frank Matthews. The Justice Department indicted Matthews’ entire network in 1973, but dropped charges on nine of them due to their CIA ties.[30]

Regarding a possible “threat-timing” tactic, William Pepper emphasized that U.S. Intelligence orchestrated Martin Luther King’s assassination exactly one year after he officially announced his opposition to the Vietnam War.[31] This apparent tactic engenders a conscious or subconscious warning with regard to an incident whose timing marks the anniversary date of a previous incident.

A gunman assassinated Congo president Laurent Kabila on January 16, 2001. It was on this exact date 40 years earlier that the U.S. aided the assassination of Kabila’s former comrade, Congo’s first independently elected president, Patrice Lumumba, according to CIA documents.[32]

No photo description available.
The late Laurent Kabila. [Source:]

It is a wonder if this tactic was not also used when Huey Newton was assassinated exactly one year after he held a press conference from jail stating he refused release unless Geronimo Ji Jaga was released.[33] Tupac, who idolized Newton, was shot at by strangers in front of passive police exactly three years from the date of Newton’s assassination.[34]

This puts into question the real cause of death of Malcolm X’s daughter, Malikah Shabazz. She allegedly “died of natural causes” at the age of 56 on November 22, 2021, just four days after a judge exonerated two of her father’s assassins.[35]

Al Sharpton countered a claim by police of Shabazz having a long-term illness, stating she was active in his National Action Network office that month. In late February 2021, the Shabazz family released a letter from a police officer reporting on FBI and police involvement in Malcolm’s assassination.[36]





  5. and

  6. Peter Zimroth, Perversions of Justice: The Prosecution and Acquittal of the Panther 21 (New York: The Viking Press, 1974), pp. 16, 48. Also see, Murray Kempton, The Briar Patch: The People of the State of New York v. Lumumba Shakur et al. (New York: Dell Publishing, 1973) p. 200. And,



  9. M. Wesley Swearingen, FBI Secrets: An Agent’s Expose (Boston: South End Press, 1995), p. 105. See images of the book and the pages stating this in Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIA War on Musicians and Activists (Progressive Left Productions, 2019) at 1:32:16.


  11. Personal Interview with Fred Hampton, Jr., in 2013. Note that the Legacy Tour was to stop in Baltimore where this writer was scheduled to introduce Hampton and Shabazz at the event. Fred Hampton, Jr., wrote an Afterword for this writer’s book, The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders, On Hampton Jr.’s account of Valrey’s sabotage, and on Legacy Tour, see

  12. On Joan Roberts restraining Betty Shabazz and Shabazz throwing her into a wall, see Eugene Roberts’ interview in the 1980s with Elaine Rivera, “Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Spied on Malcolm X,” Newsday, July 23, 1989, cited in James W. Douglass, “The Murder and Martyrdom of Malcolm X,” in James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, eds., Assassinations (Los Angeles: Feral House, 2001), p. 413. Roberts said he calmed Joan Roberts down and escorted her to a taxi after the incident, suggesting he was with her but did not take the taxi home with her because he had more to do at the scene.

  13. On checking Malcolm X’s pulse, see author Douglas’s interview with Gene Roberts, July 7, 2000, in Douglas, Assassinations, p. 413. On turning to Betty Shabazz and saying Malcolm’s dead, see Kempton, The Briar Patch, pp. 200-203.

  14. William Pepper, Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: Time Warner, 1998), pp. 128, 431, 481, 485.

  15. Peter Zimroth, Perversions of Justice: The Prosecution and Acquittal of the Panther 21. (New York: The Viking Press, 1974), pp. 16-17. Also see Kempton, The Briar Patch. Harlem leader Lumumba Shakur and Bronx leaders Zayd Shakur and Sekou Odinga had been part of Malcolm’s Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). Also, Also on agents infiltrating New York Panthers,

  16. RBG| Tupac Shakur Speaks – National Chairman for the New Afrikan Panther Party (1989) pt. 1 of 2, On Tupac’s film and music, On Afeni Shakur representing herself in court while pregnant,

  17. The video shows a Department of Justice letter to this writer at 1:23. Personal interview with Tawanda Monroe of the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, May 9, 2000. The letter from Department of Justice acknowledged this communication and this author’s willingness to pay for the copying fee of $405 (see Monroe). Ms. Monroe also disclosed that they charged 10 cents per page, fitting her “over 4,000 page disclosure. Ms. Monroe originally said “I’m not allowed to tell you how many pages are in that file,” but then stated the number a few minutes later. The Los Angeles FBI File Number for the Tupac Shakur file is 266A-LA-201807.

  18. Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, The COINTELPRO Papers (Boston: South End Press, 1990), pp. 142, 153. Also see,’s_secret_police.html

  19. Churchill and Vander Wall, The COINTELPRO Papers, pp. 320, 417, 418.

  20. On police choking Tupac unconscious, see “Claim Against the City of Oakland, California, Claimaint: Tupac Shakur” by John Burris, Esq. Photocopied for Jacob Hoye and Karolyn Ali, eds. Tupac: Resurrection (New York: Atria Books, 2003). On police shooting at Tupac, see eyewitness Watani Tyehimba, Personal interview, November 5, 2003. Also from witness interviews–personal interview, Ken Ellis, May 12, 2000. Kathy Scruggs and Scott Marshall, “Witness says off-duty cops fired first shot: Claims rapper’s return fire caused brothers’ wounds.” Atlanta Journal Constitution, November 3, 1993, p. D12. For more, see Tupac’s press conference and testimony: and

  21. This CovertAction Magazine writer interviewed two eyewitnesses on the scene, Tupac’s cousin Billy Lesane and Tupac’s business manager, former Panther Watani Tyehimba, along with attorney Ken Ellis who interviewed several other eyewitnesses. They all said Tupac grabbed one of his security guard’s guns from them and shot back in self-defense. Personal interview, November 5, 2003 Watani Tyehimba; Billy Lesane, April 10, 1999; attorney Ken Ellis, May 12, 2000. The prosecutors’ top witness, Edward Fields, said the police fired at Tupac first, as stated in Scruggs and Marshall, “Witness says off-duty cops fired first shot.” On LA police officers:

  22. and

  23. On film, For more information on Hampton’s life and death, see Jeffrey Haas, The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2009).

  24. Fred Hampton, Jr., at Third Black Panther Film Festival, New York, August 1, 2003. Also written about in “Framed! For Defending the Rights of the Black Community,” . Fred Hampton, Jr,, as told to Heru, “Assassination Attempt on Fred Hampton, Jr.” October 2, 2002, Davey D’s Hip-Hop Corner: the New Source for the Hip-Hop Generation,

  25. Personal interview, Fred Hampton, Jr., August 1, 2003. Also written about in “Framed! For Defending the Rights of the Black Community,” . Fred Hampton Jr, as told to Heru, “Assassination Attempt on Fred Hampton,. Jr.” October 2, 2002, Davey D’s Hip-Hop Corner: the New Source for the Hip-Hop Generation, On pictures of assassination attempts, J.R. “Young Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. Pictorial,” San Francisco Bay, and on same police officers attacking him as his dad,


  27. All Power To The People – The Black Panther Party & Beyond, Lee Lew Lee (Electronic News Group, 1996). Churchill and Vander Wall, The COINTELPRO Papers, p. 362, n.131.

  28. and

  29. Ronin Ro, Have Gun Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Violent Fall of Death Row Records (New York: Doubleday, 1998), p. 139. Also see,

  30. According to a 1976 “Top Secret” Justice Department report. Jefferson Morley, “The Kid Who Sold Crack to the President,” The City Paper, December 15, 1989, p. 31. On Barnes’s acquittals and The New York Times label, Also see Hank Messick, Of Grass and Snow: The Secret Criminal Elite (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1979), p. 148. Both cited in Clarence Lusane, Pipe Dream Blues: Racism and the War on Drugs (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1991), pp. 41-42, notes 76 and 79. Also see

  31. Pepper, Orders to Kill, p. 5. On exact year anniversary, also see

  32. Antoine Roger Lokongo, “Hands Off the Democratic Republic of Congo, Now!” The Burning Spear, October 2003, p. 17. Also heard on Pacifica’s WBAI radio in New York. On CIA assassinating Lumumba, see, for example, DiEugenio and Pease, The Assassinations, pp. 162-3. Also see, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, White Out: The CIA, Drugs and the Press (New York: Verso), excerpted in Dave Greaves, “The CIA, Drugs and Big Media” Our Times Press, September 1998, p. 8. On CIA attempting/aiding Patrice Lumumba assassination, see Mark Mazzetti and Tim Weiner, “ Files on Illegal Spying Show CIA Skeletons from Cold War,” The New York Times, A1, June 27, 2007. Also see

  33. and

  34. Marku Reynolds in video, Thug Immortal, Don’t Back Down Productions, 1997. Also, Robert Sam Anson, “To Die Like A Gangsta,” Vanity Fair, March 1997, p. 248, and Connie Bruck, “The Takedown of Tupac,” The New Yorker, July 7, 1997, p. 47.


  36. and

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