A Staten Island man, Saadah Masoud, who was accused of committing a sequence of assaults on Jews in New York Metropolis in 2021 and 2022, pleaded responsible on Tuesday to a federal hate crimes conspiracy cost.
One in every of Mr. Masoud’s victims had been strolling alongside a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Midtown Manhattan in April whereas sporting a big Israeli flag wrapped round his neck and draped down his again. Mr. Masoud, who was one of many demonstrators, instructed his sufferer, “I’ve one thing for you — wait till we’re in non-public,” in line with the authorities.
Mr. Masoud finally punched the person repeatedly within the head and face and dragged him throughout a sidewalk, an indictment charged.
The indictment additionally accused Mr. Masoud of assaulting two different males, in separate assaults, in 2021. One man had been sporting a necklace with a Star of David, whereas the opposite was sporting conventional clothes related to the Jewish faith, together with a skullcap, the indictment mentioned.
“Saadah Masoud intentionally focused three victims due to their faith and nation of origin,” Damian Williams, the U.S. lawyer for the Southern District of New York, mentioned in an announcement. “There is no such thing as a place on this nation for this offensive and hateful conduct.”
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A federal choose, Denise L. Cote of Federal District Courtroom in Manhattan, mentioned she would sentence Mr. Masoud, who may withstand 5 years in jail, on March 3.
Mr. Masoud’s responsible plea comes amid a heightened focus by the authorities on episodes of antisemitism and extremist violence in New York and elsewhere.
Simply final week, two men were arrested at Pennsylvania Station in New York after an investigation into what the town’s police commissioner, Keechant L. Sewell, had described as a “creating risk to the Jewish group.” The authorities seized an eight-inch military-style knife and an illegally held gun with a 30-round journal from the lads. Regulation enforcement officers mentioned threats of violence, together with the capturing up of a synagogue, had been discovered on social media posts linked to one of many males.
On Tuesday, Mr. Masoud instructed Choose Cote that he had “repeatedly punched” the person sporting the Israeli flag “as a result of I perceived him to be an Israeli.”
Mr. Masoud mentioned he couldn’t discern what the person’s race or ethnicity was, however he did have an Israeli flag.
“He was counterprotesting, and I’ll admit that I assaulted him,” Mr. Masoud mentioned.
Mr. Masoud’s sufferer, Matt Greenman, was left with a swollen and bruised face and was taken to a hospital the place he was recognized with a concussion, in line with a felony grievance filed within the case.
Mr. Greenman, who described the assault in an interview with PIX11, mentioned he had gone to observe the pro-Palestinian demonstration, which was close to forty second Avenue and First Avenue.
“I wished to simply go and see what it was all about,” Mr. Greenman, who’s Jewish, mentioned within the interview. “I had the Israeli flag on my again as a cape.”
Whereas a number of the marchers began to circle round him, Mr. Greenman mentioned, his attacker “received me from behind; he received me to the bottom. He was punching me within the face.
“He kicked me within the face an entire bunch,” he mentioned.
Gerard Filitti, a lawyer who represents Mr. Greenman on behalf of the Lawfare Challenge, a nonprofit group that claims it defends “the civil and human rights of the Jewish folks,” known as Mr. Masoud’s responsible plea a major improvement.
“It’s not day by day that the Justice Division takes on a hate crime concentrating on Jews,” Mr. Filitti mentioned. “It sends clearly the message that violent crimes concentrating on the Jewish group is not going to be tolerated.”
In courtroom, Mr. Masoud additionally instructed Choose Cote that he had punched the person sporting the Star of David necklace as a result of he believed he was Israeli.
Ronald L. Kuby, a lawyer for Mr. Masoud, mentioned in a telephone interview on Wednesday that his shopper’s “prolonged household over generations suffered horribly by the hands of the Israeli authorities, and far of that has been handed right down to him.”
Mr. Kuby added, “That explains — however doesn’t justify — his conduct.”
On the listening to, a federal prosecutor, Lindsey Keenan, instructed Choose Cote that prosecutors had just lately discovered that Mr. Masoud might need “contacted and threatened an individual who he believes to be a authorities witness.” Ms. Keenan mentioned her workplace was investigating, and he or she held out the chance that the federal government would ask the choose to revoke Mr. Masoud’s bail.
The choose warned Mr. Masoud to don’t have any contact instantly or not directly with anybody he perceived to be a authorities witness.
Mr. Masoud’s case was the primary to be charged by a newly created civil rights unit throughout the Southern District’s felony division, a spokesman, Nicholas Biase, mentioned.