A 71-year-old landlord in the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, IL, has been charged in the stabbing death of a six-year-old Palestinian child. According to ABC News, Joseph Czuba allegedly used what has been described as a military-style knife to stab the boy 26 times during this hate crime. Czuba is also accused of stabbed the young child’s mother, 32-year-old Hannan Shaheen, over a dozen times, and though she is in serious condition, she is expected to survive the attack.
The attack prompted the release of a statement from President Joe Biden, “The child’s Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek—a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace. This horrific act of hate has no place in America and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are.”
Statement from President Joe Biden on the brutal murder of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American boy, in Illinois pic.twitter.com/CyKCu4ZB3m
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 16, 2023
The Justice Department also opened a federal hate crimes investigation, and US Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement as well.
“I am heartbroken by the abhorrent killing of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six year old child who died after being stabbed 26 times with a military-style knife. On behalf of the entire Justice Department, I want to express my deepest condolences to his family and his community as they grieve his loss.”
Wadea Al-Fayoume was found in a bedroom of his mother’s apartment along with his mother, with stab wounds to his chest, torso, and upper extremities. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition but died due to his injuries. His mother was stabbed in the same areas as her son but remains hospitalized.
According to the Will County Sheriff’s Office, they were able to ascertain that the attack and killing were motivated by the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, which makes this a hate crime, since the young boy as Palestinian. “Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”
Czuba has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement detailing statements Czuba made upon entering the house he rented to Shahin.
“Our hearts are heavy, and our prayers are with the darling boy and his mother,” Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director said.
“As we await the official investigation of the local authorities, what we can confirm at the moment is that we have a murdered child in his own home, a six-year who had just celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and a mother lying in the hospital in serious condition, both stabbed over a dozen times. And we have testimony from the mother as to the harrowing moments that unfolded in terms of what was done and said – and it is our worst nightmare. We have full confidence in the authorities to investigate this heinous incident as a hate crime and to do so swiftly.”
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