Illinois man charged with killing Muslim boy, 6, in hate crime motivated by Israeli-Hamas war

Police charge a 71-year-old suburban Chicago man Sunday with a hate crime for fatally stabbing a Palestinian-American 6-year-old boy and seriously wounding a 32-year-old woman, alleging he singled out both victims because of their Islamic faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas.

“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 Will County Sheriff’s Office says in a statement posted to social media.

Officers found both victims late Saturday morning at a home in an unincorporated area of Plainfield Township, roughly 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

The boy, who was pronounced dead at the hospital, was stabbed 26 times with a large military-style knife, according to an autopsy Sunday, the sheriff’s office says. The woman had more than a dozen stab wounds on her body. She remained hospitalized Sunday, but was expected to survive.

The man suspected of the crime was found Saturday outside “sitting upright outside on the ground near the driveway of the residence” with a cut on his forehead, police says.

He was in custody Sunday and awaiting a court appearance. Police charged him with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crimes and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Authorities did not release the names of the deceased, but the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations planned a Sunday news conference with a family member and identified the victims as as Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American boy who had recently turned 6, and his mother Hanaan Shahin.

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