Washington: A 71-year-old man accused of murdering a Palestinian-American boy in an attack in Illinois, which police have linked to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, pleaded not guilty on Monday.Czuba, who was the family's landlord, allegedly stabbed the boy 26 times.
Joseph Czuba faces murder, attempted murder and hate crime charges in connection with the October 14 attack, which left six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume dead and his mother, Hanan Shaheen, 32, seriously wounded.
Czuba pleaded not guilty to all of the charges during an appearance in an Illinois court on Monday and was ordered detained until a January 8 hearing, according to court documents.
According to the Will County Sheriff's Office, the victims were "targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis."
Czuba, who was the family's landlord, allegedly stabbed the boy 26 times.
According to the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the family is Palestinian-American.
US President Joe Biden condemned the attack as a "horrific act of hate" that "has no place in America."
"The child's Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek - a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace," Biden said. "As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred."