A man accused of murder, attempted murder, and a hate crime is set to appear in court following his indictment by an Illinois grand jury. Joseph Czuba, 71, is facing eight counts in the indictment, including the fatal stabbing of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume and the wounding of Hanaan Shahin on October 14. Authorities have stated that the victims were targeted due to their Muslim faith.
Hanaan Shahin, who is recovering from multiple stab wounds, reported to the police that Czuba, her landlord in Plainfield, became upset over the Israel-Hamas war and attacked them after she had urged him to “pray for peace.” The murder charge in the indictment describes the boy’s death as the result of “exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior.”
Hundreds of people attended Wadea Al-Fayoume’s funeral on October 16. Czuba, who is currently in jail, is expected to enter a plea at an arraignment in Joliet, located 50 miles southwest of Chicago.
In a statement issued through the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Hanaan Shahin asked the public to “pray for peace” and expressed that her son was her best friend.
The stabbings are part of a rising hostility against Muslim and Jewish communities in the United States since the Israel-Hamas conflict began.