Looking for Leon X

Could Leon X Davis – the Luger-toting thug suspected of being one of the three shooters in the ‘Newark Six’ hit squad that murdered Malcolm X at New York’s Audubon Ballroom on 21st February 1965 – still be alive?

If so is it possible that, like suspected shotgun assassin William X Bradley who appears in the Netflix documentary series ‘Who Killed Malcolm X?’ (and who later changed his name to ‘Al-Mustafa Shabazz’), Leon Davis is now going under a Muslim name and attending the local mosques in New Jersey?

And given the collective guilt that New Jersey’s NOI Muslims share for Malcolm’s murder don’t they all now have a moral obligation to help us to locate Davis and finally bring him to justice?

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Linward X Cathcart, a Fruit of Islam (FOI) lieutenant from Muhammad's Mosque #21 in Jersey City, has stated that upon arriving at the Audubon Ballroom on 21st February 1965 he took up a seat on the same first row where he would later be joined by Newark Mosque #25 assassins Talmadge X Hayer and Leon X Davis. In an account provided by undercover NYPD-BOSSI agent Gene Roberts (which features in Jack Baxter’s ‘Brother Minister’ and Ark Media’s ‘Who Killed Malcolm X’) agent Roberts reported that, upon arriving at the venue to assume his guard duties for that afternoon, he had noticed three men seated on the first row reading newspapers and seemingly engaged in silent communion.

In his 1977-78 affidavits confessed assassin Hayer revealed that he and his fellow murderers had agreed to get to the Audubon early, drifting into the venue individually or in pairs to avoid suspicion and taking up seats on the front rows from which they would later launch their attack. Having agreed among themselves that Hayer and Davis would sit on the first row, with William Bradley and Ben Thomas immediately behind them on the second row and Kinley located to the rear of the venue, it seems likely that the three men whom Roberts observed on the first row were none other than Hayer, Davis and Cathcart himself. And since Cathcart and Bradley, who was seated on the row behind him, were FOI lieutenants who both answered to Minister James 3X Shabazz of Newark, the likelihood that these two NOI adjutants may have recognised each other at the venue cannot be ruled out.   

Most damningly, however, was an 8th March 1965 witness report from Malcolm X associate Earl Grant which relates to Cathcart’s presence at the Audubon Ballroom. According to the report:

“Above subject interviewed by the undersigned and stated that one of the guards was a Charles Blackwell of 53 Grant Ave., Jersey City, Tel. 201-435 8096 and a former member of the Mosque in Jersey City (Linward’s Jersey City Mosque #21); was stationed on the left side of the rostrum looking at the stage alongside of Booth #2. He states that Blackwell told him that he saw a fellow named Linwood (Linward) from Plainfield N.J. enter the room and sit on the front row on the right side facing the platform and two other men who had entered with him separate, and sit on the left front row of chairs. These two men were dressed alike and were wearing trench coats. All three subjects kept staring at him during the talks, he feels because they recognised him. He then heard a commotion in the back of the Ballroom and then the shooting started…” – Earl Grant witness statement, 8th March 1965 

Grant’s account corresponds with the Hayer affidavits with respect to Hayer’s testimony that he and his fellow assassins entered the venue in pairs and that Hayer and Davis took their seats to the left side of the front row. Missing from Hayer’s account, however, was any reference to the fact that both he and Davis had entered the venue with Cathcart who then parted from them and took his seat on the right side of the front row as Grant described.

The remarkable overlap between Grant’s report, Hayer’s testimony and the accounts provided by BOSSI agent Roberts and Malcolm X associate Benjamin Karim in ‘Brother Minister’ regarding the three men whom they had both observed on the first row while performing their duties at the Audubon is reinforced by an additional detail in Grant’s interview that is found in this line:

“He (Charles 26X Blackwell) also noticed another person who he knows as Benjamin from Paterson or Newark seated about the third row on the left side...” - Earl Grant witness statement, 8th March 1965 

The reference to ‘Benjamin’ (aka Ben X Thomas aka Albert Benjamin Thomas of Newark Temple #25) seated on or about the third row’s left side represented (1) the first time this member of the Newark hit squad had been identified by name prior to the affidavits which Hayer swore a full 12 years later and (2) Thomas’ seating location marries up with the seating arrangements of the assassins first provided by Hayer in 1977-78.

Like Grant’s account of the manner in which Cathcart, Davis and Hayer, upon entering the venue together subsequently parted ways, with Cathcart heading to the right of the first row while Hayer and Davis made their way to the left of that same row, BOSSI agent Roberts has indicated that the demeanor of the three men on the first row suggested to him that they were there together.

This, in turn, buttresses Grant’s account of what Blackwell had told him regarding the manner in which all three men (Cathcart, Davis and Hayer) were behaving as if of one mind and kept staring at him either to intimidate him or in apparent concern that they may have been recognised by Blackwell who once belonged to the same New Jersey mosque network to which they were affiliated...

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Paul Bitakaramire is a freelance writer based in Manchester who has previously been published in Britain’s Spectator magazine and has launched a petition to secure the declassification of the FBI and CIA files on the Malcolm X assassination. That petition can be found here.

Copyright © 2020 Paul Bitakaramire. All rights reserved.