London, April 12 (ANI): Martin Luther King was shot dead because his assassin was lured by a 62,000-pound bounty that had been placed on his head by the Ku Klux Klan, a new book has claimed.
Assassin James Earl Ray was in jail when he is said to have heard on the prison grapevine that the racist group would pay out to anyone who ended the life of the black U.S. civil rights leader.
The book's authors say the KKK in the 1960s functioned like an Al Qaeda-style organisation raising money to fight a 'holy war' against black people, the Daily Mail reported.
The huge 'reward' was collected from supporters who hated racial integration.
Speculation has long raged that Dr King was killed in 1968 as part of a wider conspiracy, even though the FBI immediately dismissed the idea that Klansmen were responsible.
But according to previously unreleased FBI reports in the book The Awful Grace of God, by respected U.S. historians Stuart Wexler and Larry Hancock who want the murder reinvestigated, the reality could have been very different.
They say that when Ray, who had convictions for offences including armed robbery, was in a Missouri jail in 1967 he heard about the bounty offered by the White Knights of Mississippi, widely considered the most dangerous of all the racist groups at the time.
The book suggests that with the 62,000 pounds on his mind Ray started plotting, escaped from jail and shot Dr King dead at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee, in April 1968.
He was arrested at Heathrow two months after the assassination having fled to the UK. He died in prison in 1998 aged 70.
Their book also uncovered for the first time a 1964 plot by the White Knights to kill Dr King.
An assassin was to shoot him with a high-powered rifle but it fell apart when Klan leaders never showed up to pay the hitman the 13,000 pounds fee. (ANI)
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