Palestinian-American boy killed in anti-Muslim hate crime linked to Israel-Hamas war, police say

Wadea Al-Fayoume was stabbed 26 times and 32-year-old mother more than 12 times in shocking incident

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Sunday 15 October 2023 18:52 EDT

Boy killed, mother seriously injured in anti-Muslim stabbing attack

A six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was fatally stabbed and his mother was wounded by their landlord in an anti-Muslim hate crime linked to the Israel-Hamas war, police in Illinois say.

The boy, named by his father as Wadea Al-Fayoume, was stabbed 26 times and his 32-year-old mother, Hanaan Shahin, more than 12 times in the shocking attack at a property in Plainfield Township, outside Chicago, on Saturday morning.

“Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” Will County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

On Sunday the boy’s father confirmed that his son and his mother are Palestinian, according to TV station WLS.

Authorities say that when deputies arrived at the scene they found suspect Joseph Czuba sitting on the ground near the home. They responded to the address after the woman called 911 and said she was being attacked by her landlord.

The victims were found inside a bedroom and investigators say that a military-style knife was found at the scene of the stabbing.

Wadea Al-Fayoume stabbed to death outside Chicago in alleged anti-Muslim attack

They were both rushed to the hospital where the boy died and the mother remains in a serious condition but is expected to survive.

The 71-year-old suspect has been charged with one count each of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery, and two counts of hate crime.

The dead boy was also identified as being a Palestinian-American by the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation.

Wadea Al-Fayoume stabbed to death outside Chicago in alleged anti-Muslim attack

CAIR-Chicago claims that the mother sent the boy’s father text messages, alleging that the suspect shouted “You Muslims must die” ahead of the stabbing.

The organisation called the incident “our worst nightmare” and says they have seen a spike in hate calls and emails since the violence in the Middle East broke out on 7 October.

“What we have is a murdered Palestinian child by someone who is radicalized by the environment in which we live right now, that casts Palestinians as human animals,” Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago told reporters on Sunday.

Joseph Czuba has been charged with one count each of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery, and two counts of hate crime

“He knocked on the door and he attempted to choke her, and said, ‘You Muslims must die,’ and attempted to stab her, and stabbed her. And, she went to the bathroom and called 911. And, this was all in her own words,” Mr Rehab said.

The suspect was transported to the Will County Adult Detention Facility and is awaiting his initial court appearance.

“Joseph Czuba did not make any statements to detectives regarding his involvement in this heinous attack. Despite the suspect not providing a statement to detectives, personnel were able to gather enough information through interviews and evidence to formally charge Joseph Czuba with numerous criminal offenses,” Will County Sheriff’s Office added in its statement.

“The Will County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office for their assistance in working with detectives regarding Joseph Czuba being formally charged in this senseless and cowardly act of violence.

Neighbours said that the suspect regularly had political signs outside his home.

“He always had signs around times of elections and that were pretty angry about what was going on politically and locally here,” Jim Stein told CBS News.

The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish anti-gate organisation, has strongly condemned the incident.

“We’re disgusted and horrified that a 6-year-old boy was murdered and his mother was severely injured in #Plainfield, IL, allegedly because they are Muslim. We express our condolences to the Muslim community and categorically reject all anti-Muslim hate,” the group said in a statement.

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