Between several failed attempts on Malcolm X’s life and his looming eviction trial, it was clear that Malcolm’s falling out with the NOI was more serious than anyone could have anticipated. And, although Muhammad Speaks was almost entirely silent on anything relating to the minister during the early 1960s, Malcolm became its primary subject in 1964. The newspaper devoted numerous pages of each issue to slandering its former spokesman, even contacting Malcolm’s older brothers Wilfred and Philbert, both of whom remained ministers in Detroit and Lansing respectively. Philbert offered a public denouncement of Malcolm, calling him “cunning and clever” and warned that his “reckless efforts … will cause many of our unsuspecting people who listen and follow him unnecessary loss of blood and life.” He compared his brother to Judas, Brutus, and Benedict Arnold, and most intimately, drew parallels between Malcolm’s condition and the mental illness which had beset their mother, Louise, and brother Reginald. Malcolm accurately suspected that his brother’s critique was not in fact his own, but was written by National Secretary John Ali, and retorted that only Philbert “is dumb enough to let someone put a script in his hand and read it.” The condemnation was published in Muhammad Speaks the following month alongside the now-iconic cartoon of Malcolm’s decapitated head, horned and catapulting down towards the skulls of other notorious traitors.
Other former associates within the Nation also took their turns denouncing Malcolm as an apostate and hypocrite. Ministers Louis X (Farrakhan), John Shabazz, and Jeremiah Shabazz all contributed articles lambasting their former mentor and colleague. Talk of Malcolm in the more private confines of the mosque as recorded by FBI informants were even more vitriolic and frequently intimated violence. Supreme Captain Raymond Sharrieff told Mosque No. 7 members that “Elijah Muhammad used to like former Minister Malcolm X more than he did his own son, but Malcolm X hurt Elijah Muhammad deeply” and predicted that he would “soon die out.” In Chicago, Malcolm began to be referred to as “Big Red” and was portrayed as a former “thief, dope addict, and a pimp.” Perhaps the most graphic critique was from Edwina X of the Newark mosque, who peppered her open invitation to the mosque with antagonisms: “Such a deceiver should dig a hole and crawl into it and pray that the parasites in the hole have mercy on him. For one who has heard the truth and still wants to go astray - there is nothing but total destruction for such a defector.” Although the order for Malcolm X’s assassination has never been directly traced back to Elijah Muhammad or any other high ranking officials, the rhetoric of the NOI during the months following Malcolm’s disaffection created an atmosphere in which no such order was necessary. It was made apparent to all within the sect that Malcolm’s death was not only a possibility, but an eventual certainty.