After surrendering to the FBI in Minneapolis yesterday, 34-year-old Qubilah Shabazz was indicted on nine counts of attempting to hire a hitman to murder Mr Farrakhan, who now lives in Illinois. Federal authorities have been building the case against her for seven months. If convicted Ms Shabazz faces up to 10 years in jail on each count and a fine of up to $2.2m (£1.4m).
The arrest would seem to be the latest and most startling twist in three decades of enmity between the family and Mr Farrakhan, whom they have long suspected of involvement in Malcolm X's death on 21 February 1965. Malcolm X was gunned down in a New Yorkballroom in the middle of a speech to his supporters. Ms Shabazz, then four, was there.
By then the Nation of Islam was deeply divided. Two years earlier Malcolm X had broken with Elijah Muhammed, the Nation's founder, and was effectively expelled from the radical protest movement. His place as Muhammed's protege was taken by Mr Farrakhan, recruited by Malcolm X into the movement but who as early as December 1964 was writing of MalcolmX as " a man worthy of death".
Three months later that prophecy was fulfilled in the Audubon ballroom in Harlem, in circumstances that have never been fully cleared up. Three men, all members of the Nation, were convicted of the murder. But suggestions can still be heard that the FBI colluded with Mr Farrakhan, for the "greater good" of eliminating a man regarded as a prime threat to America's racial stability.
Ironically, that reputation has now been acquired by Mr Farrakhan, whose charges of a Jewish plot against blacks have been harshly criticised by whites and moderate black leaders alike. Curiously too, the arrest of Ms Shabazz coincides with the release of a documentary film about Malcolm X, which makes the case more explicitly than before - albeit still circumstantially - that Louis Farrakhan had a hand in his murder.
Those who have seen previews say that Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X does not fully convince. But it contains one clip from as recently as 1993 in which Mr Farrakhan, preaching in Chicago, denounces Malcolm X as a traitor, adding: "And
if we dealt with him as a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours?"