Plainfield township

Details emerge following court hearing for man who attacked, stabbed Muslim child, mom in hate crime

Hanaan Shahin, 32, and her 6-year-old son, Wadea Al-Fayoume, were targeted because of their Islamic faith, officials said

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Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions that could be upsetting and disturbing.

New details were revealed Monday during a hearing for Joseph Czuba, the man accused of brutally killing a 6-year-old boy and injuring the boy's 32-year-old mother in a stabbing attack local and federal authorities described as a hate crime.

According to officials, Hanaan Shahin, 32, and her 6-year-old son, Wadea Al-Fayoume, who are Muslim, were attacked and stabbed multiple times Saturday inside their Plainfield home by Czuba, their 71-year-old landlord.

Czuba, who lived on the floor above Hanaan and Wadea, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and two counts of a hate crime, according to the Will County Sheriff's Office.

During a court appearance Monday, a Will County Judge denied Czuba's pretrial release due to the nature of the crimes and the broader threat to public safety. He will be appointed a public defender and will remain detained until the next court hearing, scheduled for Oct. 30 at 9 a.m., the court documents said.

How the attack unfolded

At approximately 11:38 a.m. on Saturday, deputies with the sheriff's office were called to a home in the 16200 block of South Lincoln Highway near Lily Cache Road regarding a stabbing involving Czuba and a renter, according to authorities.

Newly revealed court documents showed Czuba had knocked on Shahin's door Saturday morning and the two began arguing over the Israel-Hamas war. According to the documents, Shahin stated the two should "pray for peace."

The argument then became physical, the documents said.

Shahin was able to get away from Czuba by locking herself in the bathroom, and calling 911 the documents said. Shahin was not however able to bring her son into the bathroom with her, the documents stated.

When police arrived, they discovered Wadea unresponsive with multiple stab wounds to the chest. According to officials, Shahin sustained more than a dozen stab wounds to her body and was expected to survive.

Wadea was was initially transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition, but later died from his injuries, according to the sheriff's office. An autopsy conducted by a forensic pathologist on Sunday revealed that the boy had been stabbed 26 times throughout his body with a 12-inch military knife, authorities stated.

According to court documents, Shahin, a Palestinian American who lived at the residence for two years, described Czuba as an "angry" man. The documents also stated that Czbua's wife, Mary, stated that Joseph was "concerned" about events that could occur on Oct. 13.

While Czuba didn't make any statements regarding his involvement in the attack, law enforcement were able to gather evidence, which led prosecutors to file numerous criminal charges. Detectives determined that both victims were targeted due to being Muslim.

After the attack, Czuba was found by responding officers on the ground near the home's driveway, was treated for a laceration and released from the hospital. He was subsequently taken to the Will County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex and questioned by detectives, according to police.

Czuba was then taken to the Will County Adult Detention Facility, where he remains detained until his Oct. 30 court date.

"I ask you, what level of hate, blind hatred, can cause such an act," Council for American Islamic Relations Executive Director Ahmed Rahab said during a press conference Sunday. "And for us to reflect on the conditions in which such an act can occur."

Funeral, FBI investigation underway

A funeral service for Wadea Al-Fayoume began at 1 p.m. Monday at the Mosque Foundation, located at 7360 W. 93rd St. in Bridgeview, the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said. Wadea's family, along with Muslim community members and leaders, interfaith leaders and public officials were expected to attend.

"This is a heavy day that we hoped would never come," a statement from Rahab about the funeral said. "As they say, the smallest coffins are the heaviest. My heart and thoughts today are especially with the mother, Hanaan Shahin, who is fighting serious bodily injuries at the hospital, not to mention the mental trauma of the gore she experienced and witnessed. She will be feeling Wadea's loss more than anyone, but she is forced to mourn alone rather in the warm embrace of family and community at this time."

According to a press release, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Chicago Field Office, along with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois and the Will County State's Attorney and Sheriff's Offices have opened a federal investigation into the attack.

"The FBI takes the investigation of hate crimes extremely seriously and encourages members of the community with information regarding this incident—or other potential hate crimes—to contact us at 1-800-CALL-FBI," the release added.

Biden, Johnson, Pritzker, release statements condemning attack

Both Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and President Joe Biden released statements over the weekend following the attack, with Biden calling it a "horrific act of hate."

Biden's full statement can be found below:

"Jill and I were shocked and sickened to learn of the brutal murder of a six-year-old child and the attempted murder of the child’s mother in their home yesterday in Illinois.
The child’s Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek—a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace. 
This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are.  
As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred.  I have said repeatedly that I will not be silent in the face of hate.  We must be unequivocal. There is no place in America for hate against anyone.
We join everyone here at the White House in sending our condolences and prayers to the family, including for the mother’s recovery, and to the broader Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim American communities."

Monday, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson released a statement.

"I am devastated by the murder of a six-year-old Palestinian American, Wadea Al-Fayoume, and the attempted murder of his mother in Plainfield, Illinois," Johnson said. "This despicable hate crime is a shameful reminder of the destructive role Islamophobia plays in our society."

Groups warn residents to be aware of hate crimes in wake of Israel-Hamas war

In a news release issued earlier this week, CAIR-Chicago reported a spike in hate calls/emails as a result of recent violence in the Middle East. The dozens of messages the organization received in recent days rivaled the amounts received following the Sept. 11 terror attacks and former President Trump's travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries, according to the group.

The Illinois State Police said on Sunday it was urging residents to be alert of potential hate crime and terrorism activity related to the Israel-Hamas war.

In a news release, the agency explained it was coordinating law enforcement activity in response to an elevated level of violence and hate crimes connected to the war. As of late Sunday, there was "no actionable intelligence" regarding any credible mass threats in Illinois.

A statement from the Chicago Jewish Community Relations Council read, "We condemn this heinous act in the strongest possible terms. Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mother were attacked, and Wadea was murdered, because they are Muslim. May Wadea's memory be a blessing to all who knew and loved him and may his mother experience a full recovery."

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