By Allan Lengel
Attorney General Merrick Garland said Sunday he was “heartbroken by the abhorrent killing of Wadea Al-Fayoume” a six-year-old in a Chicago suburb who died after being stabbed 26 times with a military-style knife by a man who shouted anti-Muslim remarks. “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.”
The boy was fatally stabbed by his landlord Joseph Czuba, 71, who is now behind bars, authorities said. The landlord is also accused of stabbing and wounding the mother, Hanaan Shahin. They lived in Plainfield Township.
The Justice Department has opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the death of the boy and the wounding of his mother.
“This incident cannot help but further raise the fears of Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities in our country with regard to hate-fueled violence,” Garland said in a statement. “The Department of Justice is focused on protecting the safety and the civil rights of every person in this country. We will use every legal authority at our disposal to bring to justice those who perpetrate illegal acts of hate. No one in the United States of America should have to live in fear of violence because of how they worship or where they or their family come from.”
Prosecutors say Czuba had been listening to conservative talk radio about the Israel-Hamas conflict and became increasingly concerned about his Muslim tenants, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
At a hearing Monday, prosecutors said Czuba’s wife told detectives that he “believed he was in danger and she [his tenant, Shahin] was going to call Palestinian friends to come and harm them.”