A 59-year-old man from Rego Park, Queens, who stabbed and bit the nose of a worshiper at a Flushing mosque in November 2012, was last week sentenced to 20 years in prison after being found guilty of attempted murder as a hate crime by a jury at the defendant’s trial, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Dec. 14.
The sentence was announced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Schwartz.
Brown said that he has reiterated many times in the past that crimes fueled by hate will never be tolerated in Queens County, the most diverse urban area in the entire nation.
The defendant identified as Bernhard Laufer from a Rego Park neighborhood who waged a war of terror against Masjid Al-Saaliheen Mosque. Before this vicious attack, he repeatedly “called the mosque and threatened to kill all Muslims,” the prosecutor said.
The man vandalized the door of the mosque, and when the victim was opened the mosque for morning prayer, he stabbed Bashir Ahmad, 57, in the head, arm, back, hand and bit his nose, leaving the victim with permanent scars and a daily reminder of the attack that was described by the attorney as heinous and unprovoked.
The defendant was convicted of second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime, first-degree attempted assault as a hate crime, second-degree assault as a hate crime, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and fourth-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime. Ahmad at the time was up the stairs leading into the mosque. As Ahmad unlocked the front door, the defendant stabbed him over and over again.
According to trial records, Laufer was arrested after dropping his eyeglasses at the scene during the attack, leaving vital DNA evidence behind. The defendant’s DNA matched that found on the spectacles. Investigators also testified at trial that the threatening phone calls made to the mosque in the days before the attack were placed from the defendant’s home phones.