CAIRO - A Queens man charged in a series of attacks targeting a New York Islamic center and other homes has cited his hatred of all Muslims and Arabs as the main drive of his attacks.
In his first statements to police, defendant Ray Lazier Lengend said he hated all the Muslims and Arabs because they were trying to take over his life. They have been doing it for forty years, the New York Daily News reported on Thursday, January 5.
He added he planned to inflict as much damage as possible and take out as many Muslims and Arabs as possible by tossing gas-filled Starbucks Frappucino bottles from the balcony of a Queens mosque.
Lengend, 40-year-old unemployed truck driver, was arrested Tuesday over the attacks, which New York Police said it was investigating whether the attacks were hate crimes.
He faces 18 charges including arson as a hate crime and weapon possession for throwing Molotov bombs at four occupied Jamaica buildings two of them places of worship.
Two firebombs were thrown at the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation Islamic center in the Jamaican area of Queens on Sunday, January 1.
Bombs were also thrown at other places in the area, including a house used for Hindu services.
This case is very troublesome, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Flames from the Molotov cocktails can spread very quickly.
He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on charges that include committing arson as a hate crime.
There was a potential for tremendous carnage based on the defendant's actions, terror that reverberates throughout the city, prosecutor Dave Jeffries said.
Authorities raised questions Thursday about his mental state.
"He's all over the lot, and obviously his mental capacity is being examined now," New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday.
The unemployed truck driver is expected to remain at Bellevue for psychiatric evaluation for several days.
The arrest of Lengend was relieving to US Muslims, who applauded police efforts.
This is a message to anyone who does this in the future, said Imam Maan Al-Sahlani, leader of Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center, where Lengend planned to inflict major casualties.
It's a good message that justice will come for you, the police will come for you.
The imam applauded prosecutors' use of the hate crime statute and hoped it would deter further anti-Muslim crimes.
Obviously there is something wrong with him, Al-Sahlani said.
US Muslims, estimated at between six to eight million, have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by Republican representative Peter King on what he described as radicalization of US Muslims.
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.
Recently, a Republican Missouri lawmaker described Islam as a disease like polio while another Alaska Rep. branded Muslims as occupiers' of American neighborhoods.
Lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.