A tragic and disturbing hate crime took place in Plainfield, Illinois, where a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was fatally stabbed, and his mother was critically injured.
The perpetrator, Joseph M. Czuba, their landlord, has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of committing a hate crime, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
According to reports, this crime was motivated by hatred against the victims because of their Muslim faith and their Middle Eastern ethnicity. Authorities believe that the ongoing conflict in the Middle East involving Hamas and Israelis may have played a role in this act of violence.
The community and various leaders, including President Joe Biden, have expressed their condolences and condemned this heinous act of hate. They emphasized the need to stand against Islamophobia, bigotry, and all forms of hatred, advocating for peace and unity.
The family had lived peacefully in the same property for two years with no prior issues with the landlord. The victim’s mother, Hanaan Shahin, who was injured in the attack, reported that the attacker knocked on their door, attempted to choke her, and yelled, “you Muslims must die” before attacking her with a knife.
The incident highlights the importance of addressing and combating hate crimes, discrimination, and prejudice in society and promoting understanding and tolerance among different communities.
The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today decried the reported stabbing death of a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy and the stabbing of his mother as “our worst nightmare.
Joseph M. Czuba was charged in the Plainfield, IL murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, whose mother was also injured on South Lincoln Highway.
Czuba is being held at Will County’s Adult Detention facility.
The charges against the suspect came down just before 2 p.m. Shortly after, the murdered boy’s father came forward to speak out on what appears to be an act of hatred. His son and ex-wife are Palestinian.
Wadea Al-Fayoume’s father shared one of the last pictures taken of the 6-year-old boy, who, just a couple of weeks ago, celebrated his birthday.
Wadea’s life was brutally taken away on Saturday, when he was stabbed 26 times with a military-style knife at his home just before 11:40 a.m.
Will County investigators said that Wadea and his mother were attacked by the 71-year-old landlord who is now charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of committing a hate crime and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
Wadea’s father said the boy and mother had rented the ground floor of Czuba’s for the past two years, with no issues arising until Saturday.
“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,” said Ahmed Rehab, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. “This person had no track record with the family. As a matter of fact, the father says he had built a treehouse for the boy, and allowed him to swim in a makeshift pool and brought him toys.”
In announcing the charges, the Will County Sheriff’s Office called the crime “senseless” and “cowardly,” saying, in part, “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.”
The 32-year-old mother is in serious condition, but is expected to survive, the sheriff’s office said.
The victims’ family said the mother left the West Bank and came to the U.S. 12 years ago in hopes of avoiding the violence that continues today overseas.
Wadea was born in the U.S.