Chicago: A landlord in Chicago has been arrested and charged with a heinous hate crime for stabbing his six-year-old Palestinian-American tenant, Wadea Al-Fayoume, 26 times. The brutal attack took place on October 14, resulting in the child’s tragic death. The landlord, Joseph M. Czuba, allegedly committed this gruesome act due to the victims’ Muslim faith and their Palestinian background.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office released a statement recounting the incident. Deputies responded to the stabbing incident on October 14 around 11:38 a.m. at a residence near the 16200 block of S. Lincoln Highway. They discovered two victims inside the house, both with multiple stab wounds, while the suspect, Joseph Czuba, was sitting on the ground near the driveway.
The victims were identified as Hanaan Shahin, a 32-year-old woman, and her son Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old child. Shahin had over a dozen stab wounds and was transported to a nearby hospital in serious condition, where she is expected to survive. Tragically, the young victim, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was transported to the hospital in critical condition but succumbed to his injuries. The forensic pathologist conducting the autopsy had to remove the knife from the child’s abdomen.
The knife used in the crime was a 12-inch serrated military-style knife with a seven-inch blade.
Although Joseph Czuba did not make any statements to detectives regarding his involvement in the attack, investigators were able to gather sufficient information through interviews and evidence to formally charge him with multiple offenses. These charges include first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office further noted that both victims had been targeted due to their Muslim faith and their Palestinian background. Detectives determined that Czuba had attacked them because of his anger regarding the ongoing conflict involving Hamas and Israelis in the Middle East.
The brutal attack has sent shockwaves throughout the local and national communities, with many expressing their outrage and condemnation. President Joe Biden has described the incident as “sickening” and emphasized that such hate crimes have no place in America.
The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, has also been deeply disturbed by the tragedy. According to CAIR-Chicago, Wadea and his mother Hanaan had lived on the ground floor of the house for two years with no prior issues with the landlord. The organization’s statement highlighted that text messages sent to the child’s father revealed that the suspect had been angry with the news and allegedly attacked the family, saying, “you Muslims must die.” Hanaan had attempted to call 911 from the bathroom, but upon coming out, she discovered that her son had been fatally stabbed.
The incident has drawn widespread attention and has prompted a broader conversation about the issue of hate crimes and the need for enhanced protection and support for vulnerable communities. It underscores the importance of addressing Islamophobia and bigotry and fostering unity and understanding among diverse communities in the United States.