Farrakhan Reportedly Hires Malcolm X Assassin

NEW YORK - A man convicted of the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X has been hired to run the historic Harlem mosque once headed by the Nation of Islam leader, The Village Voice reported today.

Muhammad Abdul Aziz has been selected to head Mosque No. 7 by current Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the paper reported.

Aziz, 59, was one of three men convicted of killing Malcolm X, who was shot 16 times as he spoke at a rally at Harlem's Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965.

Aziz served 19 years in prison before he was paroled in 1985.

The Voice said Aziz's appointment was confirmed by at least three officials in Farrakhan's inner circle, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The paper said Aziz also will be Farrakhan's new regional security chief for the East Coast and will be asked to reorganize the Fruit of Islam, a paramilitary wing of the Nation of Islam that has been largely dormant since Malcolm X's death.

Farrakhan was a rival of Malcolm X who split with the black activist over Malcolm X's criticism of Nation of Islam spiritual leader Elijah Muhammad.

Farrakhan labeled Malcolm X a traitor and, in a newspaper article published shortly before Malcolm's assassination, wrote, "Such a man is worthy of death."

Farrakhan has denied ordering Malcolm X's assassination, but said in 1994 that he "helped create the atmosphere" that encouraged the killing. The Voice said Farrakhan declined to comment for its