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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Malcolm X's Daughter Charged

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota -- As a girl of 4, Qubilah Shabazz watched as her father, Malcolm X, was gunned down in front of a crowd of supporters.


Nearly 30 years later, she has been charged with plotting to kill the man that her family believes was involved in Malcolm X's murder: fiery Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.


Shabazz, 34, was charged Thursday with hiring a hit man to kill Farrakhan, Malcolm X's one-time disciple who turned into his bitter rival.


If convicted, she faces up to 90 years in prison and $2.25 million in fines.


The Nation of Islam, sometimes referred to as the black Muslims and boasting 30,000 members, preaches a blend of Islam, economic independence and black separatism. In recent years, Farrakhan has become notorious for his anti-white, anti-Semitic rhetoric.


Authorities said the plot against Farrakhan didn't get past the planning stages, and that he was never in any immediate danger. Scott Tilsen, Shabazz's court-appointed lawyer, said she was turned in by the alleged hit man, a childhood friend who turned government informant.


"This case is about him enticing, luring and seducing her into the plot," Tilsen said. "Her friendship and trust in him was used."


Farrakhan's chief of staff, Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad, in a brief statement Thursday evening, said: "We're waiting for the full story to come out. We hope the government will release the full details."


U.S. Attorney David Lillehaug said other information, including Shabazz's motive, would not be released before trial.


Malcolm X was shot to death Feb. 21, 1965 as he gave a speech to followers in Harlem in New York City. Two Nation of Islam members and one other man were convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. Two have since been paroled; the third has been denied parole seven times.


Members of Malcolm X's family have long suspected that Farrakhan played a role in the killing. Farrakhan has said attempts to link him to the assassination are part of a continual conspiracy to discredit black leaders.


But in an interview last year, he acknowledged he helped create "the atmosphere" that encouraged others to kill Malcolm X.


Malcolm X, known for his own piercing rhetoric and advocacy of violent struggle for black rights, had been the voice of the Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad during the 1960s. He broke from the Nation of Islam a year before his assassination, and after a pilgrimage to Mecca, moved to orthodox Islam and denounced racism.


He subsequently came under verbal attack from other members, including Farrakhan, who was chief minister of the Nation's Boston mosque at the time.


Malcolm X's widow, Betty Shabazz, said as recently as last year she believes Farrakhan was involved.