Prosecutors say suspect in killing of 6-year-old Palestinian boy was obsessed with war between Israel and Hamas


A suburban Chicago landlord accused of fatally stabbing a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy and critically wounding his mother was ordered held behind bars Monday while federal authorities opened a hate crimes investigation into what they say was a deadly attack against Muslims.

Dressed in a prison-issued orange jumpsuit, his hair disheveled, 71-year-old Joseph Chuba answered “Yes, sir” to the judge, but sat quietly in a Will County courtroom as he was formally charged with three counts of murder, one felony count. of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated battery and two counts of hate crime.

Investigators said the deadly attack that killed Wadih al-Fayoum was linked to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East.

Wadih Al-Fayoum, 6 years old.  (Courtesy of Hala Youssef)

In the petition requesting Chuba’s arrest, Assistant District Attorney Michael Fitzgerald said that just before the attack, the owner confronted the boy’s mother, Hanan Shaheen, and “told her he was angry with her because of what was happening” in Israel.

The petition stated that Shaheen “stated that she responded to him by saying, ‘Let us pray for peace.’” Shaheen “stated that Chuba did not give her a chance to do anything…and then attacked her with a knife.”

The boy’s mother told investigators that Chuba was an “angry” man. His wife, Mary, told investigators that Chuba “listens to conservative radio shows on a regular basis” and became obsessed with the war between Hamas and Israel.

Shaheen also told police that she had been messaging Chuba’s wife about her husband’s “hatred of Muslims.” Mary Chuba told investigators last Wednesday, October 11, that he wanted Shaheen and her son out of the house. Shaheen told deputies that Chuba “confronted her that same day about what was going on in the Middle East.”

The public defender who represented Chuba did not respond to a request for comment, but told the court that the suspect was a veteran who served in the US Army from 1969 to 1973 and had ongoing medical problems, including a prior diagnosis of prostate cancer, which would… Leads to death. “It makes it difficult to house him in prison.”

The judge disagreed, saying Choba still posed a threat to Shaheen and “society in general,” and sent him back to prison. He is scheduled to return to court on October 30.

The Public Defender did not respond to a request for comment.

Chuba’s summons and detention came on the day Wadia was buried in a nearby cemetery. aThe authorities said He died on Saturday after the owner stabbed him 26 times.

Police said his 32-year-old mother was stabbed dozens of times while trying to protect her son and call for help. She was still recovering in hospital as mourners gathered for her son’s funeral at the Foundation Mosque on the outskirts of Bridgeview.

Chuba was screaming “You Muslims, you have to die” when he stormed into the ground-floor apartment the mother and son shared in suburban Plainfield, family friend Youssef Hanoun told NBC News before the funeral, citing text messages she sent to the boy’s father. Hanoun said Choba also shouted: “You are killing our children in Israel. You Palestinians do not deserve to live.”

Hannon said Shaheen “never had one percent doubt that he would harm the child” because Chuba was like a grandfather to Wadi and even built him a tree house.

Hanoun said: “When the child saw Chuba, he ran to him to hug him, but instead he was stabbed 26 times.”

The Will County Sheriff’s Office announced in a statement that Wadi was pronounced dead at the hospital, after which a forensic pathologist removed a “military-style knife” with a 7-inch blade from his abdomen. New release.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, headquartered in Chicago, has opened a federal criminal hate crimes investigation into the murder.

It was a brutal assault President Joe Biden condemned him earlier It raised concerns that the war between Hamas and Israel could lead to retaliatory attacks against Palestinian immigrants in the United States

“Hate has no place in America,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement issued Monday. “We unequivocally condemn hate and Islamophobia and stand with the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim American communities.”

Wadie’s family came to the United States from the West Bank and settled in the Chicago suburbs about a dozen years ago to escape settler violence in the Palestinian territories, according to the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“I was talking to the father and he said, ‘Part of the reason we came here is to escape the settler violence where situations like this can happen with impunity, and it chased us all the way to the United States,’” Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR Chicago, said. Sunday.

Chuba’s brother, David, said by phone that the family was preparing a statement and declined to comment further.

Chuba made “no statements to investigators regarding his involvement in this heinous attack” when sheriff’s deputies responding to the unfolding tragedy found him, with a laceration to his forehead, “sitting upright outside on the ground near the residence’s driveway,” the will said. The county sheriff’s office said earlier.

“Investigators were able to determine that the two victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to their being Muslims and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East between Hamas and the Israelis,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

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