An Illinois resident faces hate crime charges following the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Muslim boy and the serious injury of his mother, an incident spurred by their religious beliefs and the Israel-Hamas conflict, authorities and activists confirmed on Sunday.
The horrific attack, perpetrated with a military-grade knife featuring a 7-inch serrated blade, involved 26 stabs on the young child, as detailed by the Will County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident, which took place in Plainfield Township, located roughly 40 miles from Chicago, also left a 32-year-old woman with numerous stab injuries, though she’s projected to recover.
Highlighting the tragic gravity of the event, President Joe Biden reflected on the family’s journey to the U.S. in search of peace and safety, identifying them as Palestinian Muslims.
The assailant, 71-year-old Joseph Czuba, now faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery with a weapon, and two counts related to committing a hate crime. As clarified by the Sheriff’s Office, the motivation stemmed from the victims’ Muslim faith and the turbulent Middle Eastern scenario involving Israel and Hamas.
The situation unfolded rapidly, with the mother contacting 911 amidst the struggle against Czuba, identified as the landlord. The child’s autopsy further revealed the brutal nature of the attack, with the knife being recovered from his body.
The incident has sparked an outcry from the Muslim community, with CAIR Chicago’s leader, Ahmed Rehab, recounting the mother’s hospital bed messages indicating the attacker’s expressed intent to kill Muslims. The victims were identified as Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mother, Hanaan Shahin.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, addressing an international police conference, underscored the rising threat levels, cautioning increased vigilance against potential lone-wolf actors inspired by current global tensions.