Tuesday, Saadah Masoud, a man from Staten Island who was suspected of conducting a series of assaults on Jews in New York City in 2021 and 2022, pled guilty to a federal hate crimes conspiracy charge. Masoud was accused of carrying out the attacks in 2021 and 2022.
In April, one of Mr. Masoud’s victims was participating in a pro-Palestinian rally in Midtown Manhattan while carrying a huge Israeli flag wrapped around his neck and hanging down his back. He was one of the people who was shot and killed by Mr. Masoud. According to the police, Mr. Masoud, who was participating in the demonstrations, told his victim, “I have something for you — wait until we are in private.” Mr. Masoud was one among the people demonstrating.
An indictment states that Mr. Masoud ultimately hit the guy many times in the head and face before dragging him across a pavement.
In addition, Mr. Masoud was accused of attacking two other individuals in 2021 in two different incidents, which were detailed in the indictment. According to the indictment, one of the guys was seen wearing a necklace with a Star of David on it, while the second man was seen wearing traditional clothes connected with the Jewish faith, including a skullcap. Both individuals were speaking Hebrew.
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated in a statement that “Saadah Masoud intentionally targeted three victims because of their religion and country of origin.” “Our kind of nasty and bigoted behaviour has no place in this nation,” the president said.
On March 3, a federal judge named Denise L. Cote of the Federal District Court in Manhattan announced that she will hand down a sentence to Mr. Masoud, who is facing a possible maximum of five years in jail.
The guilty plea of Mr. Masoud comes at a time when the authorities in New York and elsewhere are placing a greater emphasis on their investigation of incidents involving antisemitism and extremist violence.
The law enforcement officers made off with a knife in the manner of a military weapon that was eight inches long and a handgun that was unlawfully possessed and had a magazine that contained thirty rounds. Social media postings associated with one of the males were discovered to include threats of violence, including the opening fire inside of a synagogue, according to authorities from law enforcement agencies.
Mr. Masoud said before Judge Cote on Tuesday that he “repeatedly hit” the guy who was carrying the Israeli flag “because I understood him to be an Israeli.”
In court, Mr. Masoud disclosed to Judge Cote that the reason he attacked the guy who was wearing the Star of David necklace was due to his mistaken belief that the individual was an Israeli.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Ronald L. Kuby, a lawyer representing Mr. Masoud, said that his client’s “extended family through generations suffered severely at the hands of the Israeli government, and much of it has been handed down to him.”
Mr. Kuby continued by saying, “That explains, but does not excuse, his behaviour.”
During the hearing, a federal prosecutor by the name of Lindsey Keenan told Judge Cote that prosecutors had recently learned that Mr. Masoud may have “contacted and threatened a person who he believes to be a government witness.” Keenan stated that the prosecutors had recently learned this information. Ms. Keenan said that her office was conducting an investigation, and she hinted that the government would urge the court to withdraw Mr. Masoud’s bail.
The court cautioned Mr. Masoud to avoid having any kind of interaction, whether it be face-to-face or over the phone, with anybody who he believed to be a government witness.
According to a spokeswoman for the Southern District’s criminal division named Nicholas Biase, the investigation into Mr. Masoud’s case was the first one to be charged by a civil rights section that had just been established inside the division.