Guest Historian Eric Oppen says, in this thread, we explore a scenario where Malcolm X's 1964 Hajj leads to a profoundly different set of outcomes. Effectively, he becomes a sixties Bin Laden figure. Please be assured that in no way is this thread Islamaphobic. If you're interested in viewing samples of my other work why not visit the Live Journal web site.
In 1964, on this day Nation of Islam representatives Malcolm Little and Louis Farrakhan departed JFK Airport, New York for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia via Cairo. Hajj Part 1 Little and Farrakhan Arrested by Eric Oppen
Upon arrival at Jeddah, Saudi authorities separated and isolated Little and Farrakhan from the group of pilgrims. The pretext for the arrests was the open preaching of the Nation of Islam doctrine, combined with irregularities in their visa entry caused by their inability to speak Arabic and possession of United States passports. Really at issue of course was the unorthodoxy of their Islamic faith and in reality their lives were in deadly danger. In fact the US Government had advised the authorities that the pair were in the Kingdom with the express intention of fermenting trouble for the House of Saud. Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal placed his signature on execution orders for the two Americans. That news reached the ears of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group was dedicated to the credo "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope".
The Brotherhood had been an illegal organization, tolerated to varying degrees, since 1954 when it was convicted of the attempt to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser, head of the Egyptian government. Supreme Guide Hassan al Hodeiby had no intention of rescuing Farrakhan, whose fate was already sealed. However, in Little, there was an opportunity to further radicalise a natural radical; his criminal past and harsh childhood would be the bitter soil in which the Brotherhood would plant a fresh seed.
Word was sent to 'get to' Little in gaol. Perhaps on his return to the United States, Agent Little could play a full role in the long-term goal of re-establishing the Sharia, by using "physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system"
To be continued..
In 1964, on this day Malcolm Little experienced his second Islamic conversion in a prison cell.Hajj Part 2 - The conversion of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz by Eric Oppen
In 1948, his brother Philbert had written to him in the Massachusetts State Prison in Charlestown, telling him about the Nation of Islam. Little was not interested in joining until his brother Reginald wrote, saying, "Malcolm, don't eat any more pork and don't smoke any more cigarettes. I'll show you how to get out of prison".. For the remainder of his incarceration, Little maintained regular contact with Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Black Muslims. He later reflected on his time in prison: "Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life".. On August 7, 1952, Little received parole and was released from prison.
A dozen years later, the circumstances were, shall we say, somewhat different - incarcerated in a Saudi gaol with his life hanging by a thread. Fellow Nation of Islam Representative Louis Farrakhan was to be executed the very next day. Little was informed that his own life would be spared only if he converted to orthodox Islam. He was not informed of another key development. Within the Saudi authorities, sympathisers of the Muslim Brotherhood would ensure that his new contacts with the Ikhwan al-Muslimun went unnoticed.
To be continued..
In 1964, on this day Malcolm Little returned to JFK Airport, New York wearing the ihram, a traditional two-piece garment comprising two white unhemmed sheets.Hajj Part 3 - Little returns to New York by Eric Oppen
Following his imprisonment in gaol, Little had been permitted by the Saudi authorities to complete the Hajj, making the seven circuits around the Kaaba, drinking from the Zamzam Well and running between the hills of Safah and Marwah seven times.
Accounts varied, but according to Little at least, he had remembered the book The Eternal Message of Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, which Dr. Mahmoud Yousseff Sharwabi had presented with his visa approval. He called Azzam's son, who arranged for his release. At the younger Azzam's home, he met Azzam Pasha, who gave Malcolm his suite at the Jeddah Palace Hotel. The next morning, Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal, visited and informed Malcolm X that he was to be a state guest. The deputy chief of protocol accompanied Malcolm X to the Hajj Court, where he was allowed to make his pilgrimage.
The welcoming party at JFK airport represented the new diversity that Little was soon to promote. Amongst the crowd were threats old and new, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nation of Islam of course plus Israeli secret service agents. Of his Nation of Islam colleague, Louis Farrakhan, there was no word. Before very long, Little began to fear for his own life too.
To be continued..
In 1964, on this day, Malcolm X publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam.
Famously stating that "I am most probably dead already", he expressed his willingness to work with other civil rights leaders to encourage them to learn about the true Islam he had discovered on the Hajj.
Hajj Part 4 - The True Islam by Eric OppenAbandoning the label Malcom X, Little founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc. four days later, varying the teachings of the Nation of Islam to suit his newly adopted orthodoxy.
Elijah Mohammed (pictured) issued an immediate renounciation of his former pupil. In addition to criticising the principal of Little's adoption of Muslim orthodoxy, Mohammed had some harsh words to say about the timing - Little should have focused on the release of brother Louis Farrakhan from a Saudi gaol, he believed. In fact neither mentor nor former pupil were aware that brother Louis Farrakhan had already been executed.
To be continued..
In 1964, on this day J. Edgar Hoover (pictured) studied an intelligence assessment of the impact of Malcolm Little's activities since his return from the Hajj.
The Central Intelligence Agency had advised the immigration authorities at Jeddah that Malcolm Little and Louis Farrakhan were in the Kingdom with the express intention of fermenting trouble for the House of Saud. Farrakhan was executed, and Little released. Due (so Little claimed at least) to the presentation of an orthordox Islamic book The Eternal Message of Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam along with his visa. Hajj Part 5 - Any Means Necessary by Eric OppenIn reality, agents of the Muslim Brotherhood had urged leniency upon Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal.
A radicalised Malcolm Little had returned to the United States to conduct orthodox conversions, resulting in his explusion from the Nation of Islam. According to the intelligence assessment on Hoover's desk, Little's life was in deadly danger and he had pledged to defend his family" by any means necessary". The CIA had (so they thought) well placed agents within Little's new organisation, Muslim Mosques, Inc. However their intelligence was faulty.
In fact the main threat to Little's life came not from the Nation of Islam, but from agents of Supreme Guide Hassan al Hodeiby who believed Little had double-crossed him.
It had become very apparent to al Hodeiby that Little had absolutely no intention of re-establishing the Sharia by using" physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system". In point of fact, Little had tried hard to explain to the Muslim Brotherhood that getting full on Sharia law in the US just plain old wasn't on, but no one was listening.
To be continued..
In 1964, in an article published in Life Magazine on this day Malcolm Little alleged that orders were given by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to 'destroy' him.Hajj Part 6 - Getting on like a House on Fire by Eric Oppen
Life published a photograph of Malcolm X holding an M1 Carbine at a window (pictured). The photo was taken as representation of his declaration to defend himself from the daily death threats received. Undercover FBI informants warned officials that he had been marked for assassination.
The Muslim Brotherhood were not the only threat to Little's life. In June, the Nation of Islam had sued to reclaim Malcolm X's residence in Queens, which they claimed to own. The suit was successful, and Malcolm X was ordered to vacate. The evening after the publication and the night before a scheduled hearing to postpone the eviction date, the house burned to the ground. He and his family survived. No one was charged with any crime. Both the Nation of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood denied responsibility for the arson.
To be continued..
In 1964, on this day the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil to date occured with the mortar bombing of the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C.Hajj Part 7 - That Party Bombed by Eric Oppen
Mr and Mrs John F. Kennedy, guests to a reception held in their honour, were ushered away to safety, narrowly escaping a second attempt on their lives in less than twelve months. A number of prominent members of the US Cabinet were not so lucky; by dawn the bodycount was twenty-five dead Americans. Representatives from the Kingdom plus foreign diplomats featured in a very long casualty as well.
Immense pressure for early arrests was exerted on the intelligence agencies by US and Foreign Governments. In fact, early assessments indicated that four terrorists had mounted the assault with mobile weapons, leaving no clues as to the origin of the assault.
In a private call from the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jnr. the President indicated that both the Nation of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood were considered suspects. FBI informants had been placed in both organisations, and Kennedy was not alone in wondering if double agents had created a two-directional intelligence feed. Whilst unspoken, it was of course a given that the assault would have profound consequences for the passage of Civil Rights Legislation through the nearby US Congress in 1965.
To be continued..
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.