Landlord, Joseph M. Czuba, shouted ‘You Muslims must die’ before he stabbed 6-year-old Palestine boy, Wadea Al-Fayoume, 26 times
A 71-year-old Chicago man allegedly yelled ‘you Muslims must die’ before fatally stabbing a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy and wounding his 32-year-old mother in a tragedy that appears to be influenced by the Hamas-Israel war.
Wadea Al-Fayoume, identified by the local chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations, was pronounced dead at hospital after he was stabbed 26 times with a large military-style knife by Joseph M. Czuba, according to an autopsy Sunday.
While investigators did not reveal their reasons for believing that, the president of the Council on Arab American Relations in Chicago stood alongside the murdered boy’s father and described text messages sent to him by his ex-wife from the hospital, where she is still recovering from at least 12 stab wounds.
“He knocked on the door and that he attempted to choke her, and said, ‘you Muslims must die,’ and attempted to stab her, and stabbed her. And, she went to the bathroom and called 911. And, this was all in her own words,” Rehab said.
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. On Sunday, his father was too shaken to speak, but was joined by local faith leaders who have been remembering the love the 6-year-old brought to those around him.
Officers found both victims late Saturday morning at a home in an unincorporated area of Plainfield Township, roughly 40 miles southwest of Chicago.
Czuba was found Saturday outside ‘sitting upright outside on the ground near the driveway of the residence’ with a cut on his forehead, police in Will County, Illinois.
Police charged him with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crimes and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American boy who had recently turned 6, and his mother, Hanaan Shahin, were identified as the victims.
They had lived on the ground floor of the house for two years, according to the organization, saying the suspect was their landlord.
Citing text messages from the mother to the boy’s father, the suspect reportedly yelled, ‘You Muslims must die!’ ahead of the stabbing, according to CAIR-Chicago.
The Muslim civil liberties organization called the crime ‘our worst nightmare,’ and part of a disturbing spike in hate calls and emails since the outbreak of violence in the Middle East.
Will County investigators said on Sunday that Wadea and his mother were attacked by their landlord, Joseph M. Czuba. The 71-year-old 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.”