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Israel-Palestine war: Six-year-old fatally stabbed 26 times by anti-Muslim landlord

According to local police, the mother and son were targeted in relation to ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict and because they're Muslim
Six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume was killed by the landlord after being stabbed 26 times (Photo provided by Cair)

A six-year-old Palestinian-American was fatally stabbed 26 times and his mother seriously wounded, in an attack officials say was linked to the ongoing Israel-Palestine war and because they're Muslim.

According to police in Plainfield Township, roughly 60km southwest of the US city of Chicago, the mother and son were targeted by their landlord, Joseph Czuba, in relation to the nine-day conflict and because of their religious beliefs.

'Wadea had no clue about these larger issues happening in the world, but he was made to pay for it'

Ahmed Rehab, Cair

"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," the Will County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

The statement did not specify how investigators knew of the motive, but said they had conducted interviews and reviewed other evidence.

According to the Council on American–Islamic Relations (Cair), Czuba, entered the family's home early on Saturday and proceeded to choke and stab 32-year-old Hanaan Shahin.

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She is reported to have run to the bathroom, attempted to fight off the attacker, and dialled 911 for police assistance.

When she came out of the bathroom, she found her six-year-old son, Wadea Al-Fayoume, had been stabbed 26 times and had a 12-inch serrated military knife with a seven-inch blade lodged in his body.

In texts to her husband, she wrote that the landlord reportedly yelled: "You Muslims must die!"

Shahin remains in hospital in serious condition.

On Sunday, authorities said they arrested Czuba on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

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At a press conference on Sunday, Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of the Chicago chapter of Cair, said a hateful atmosphere, where Palestinians had been dehumanised, had gripped the US.

"When this individual said you Muslims must die, this was not a message just to the boy and the mother, this was to all of us," he said.

"We were all stabbed that day." 

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Israel has been bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip after Palestinian fighters launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing at least 1,300 Israelis and taking at least 100 hostage.

The retaliatory air strikes on Gaza have killed at least 2,400 Palestinians so far, with a large majority of them women and children. Nearly 8,000 have also been wounded.

At the press conference, Rehab also warned about the same atmosphere that followed the 9/11 attacks, and said he feared this is where the country was headed. 

"Wadea had no clue about these larger issues happening in the world, but he was made to pay for it," Rehab said.

Acts of violence have been occurring all throughout the US in the past week.

On 11 October, a group of men waving Israeli flags physically assaulted an 18-year-old Palestinian man in Brooklyn and shouted anti-Palestinian statements.

The same night, in another part of Brooklyn, two men holding Palestinian flags were assaulted by two other men who grabbed one of the flags, hit one over the head and then ran away. Police say no arrests have been made.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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