Man killed Muslim boy and wounded woman in hate crime motivated by Israeli-Hamas war, police say

State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid, D-21st District, embraces Oday Al-Fayoume, father of Wadea Al-Fayoume, 6, during a news conference at the Muslim Community Center on Chicago's Northwest Side, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. Authorities say a 71-year-old Illinois man has been charged with a hate crime, accused of fatally stabbing a 6-year-old boy and seriously wounding a 32-year-old woman, in Plainfield Township, because of their Islamic faith and the Israel-Hamas war. The Council on American-Islamic Relations identified the victims as Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mother. (Jim Vondruska/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

This booking photo provided by the Will County Sheriff’s Office, in Joliet, Ill., shows Joseph M. Czuba. Authorities say Czuba has been charged with a hate crime, accused of fatally stabbing a young boy and seriously wounded a woman because of their Islamic faith and the Israel-Hamas war. (Will County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

CHICAGO — A 71-year-old Illinois man accused of fatally stabbing a 6-year-old boy and seriously wounding a 32-year-old woman was charged with a hate crime Sunday. Police allege he singled out the victims because of their Islamic faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas.

In recent days, police in U.S. cities and federal authorities have been on high alert for violence driven by antisemitic or Islamophobic sentiments. FBI officials, along with Jewish and Muslim groups, have reported an increase of hateful and threatening rhetoric.

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In the Chicago-area case, officers found the woman and boy late Saturday morning at a home in an unincorporated area of Plainfield Township, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, the Will County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on social media.

The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital. The woman had multiple stab wounds and was expected to survive, according to the statement. An autopsy on the child showed he had been stabbed dozens of times.

“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 sheriff’s statement said.

According to the Will County sheriff’s office, the woman had called 911 to report that her landlord had attacked her with a knife, adding she then ran into a bathroom and continued to fight him off.

The man suspected in the attack was found Saturday outside the home and “sitting upright outside on the ground near the driveway of the residence” with a cut on his forehead, authorities said.

Joseph M. Czuba of Plainfield was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crimes and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to the sheriff’s office. He was in custody Sunday and awaiting a court appearance.

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