Manning Marable: All right. Talk about that. What does that mean to be military?
Khalil Islam: Paramilitary procedures, that’s what we were using at that time, which was a very poor structure. Paramilitary procedure gives the D.A. the opportunity to pinpoint anything he wants to pinpoint, because at that time no soldier would make a move without an instruction from a lieutenant. Let me give you an example.
MM: Give us an example.
KI: A brother got killed in the Bronx, okay? He was worthy of death. I mean, there was no question about that, but he got killed. The D.A. knows we use chain of command, and that works against you, because they know, like I said, nobody would make a move–if I was a lieutenant in the Bronx, and somebody got killed, it was automatic the D.A. thought I pushed the button. It wouldn’t happen. It never would happen. I don’t know if that’s easy for you to understand or not.
MM: Yes, we understand.
KI: Nobody would even think about making a move if there wasn’t a direct order from a lieutenant which comes down from the top. So that was a very bad procedure, very bad. It worked against us, see, because they know. So there’s a lot of things that was going at that time that wasn’t too healthy for us, but that’s what we was using, paramilitary procedure.
– “”Khalil Islam Oral History Interview” in The Portable Malcolm X Reader