A Queens man awaiting trial for allegedly stabbing a Muslim man in 2012 has been arrested again. Bernhard Laufer, 56, was arrested on Saturday after an investigation by the FBI’s Civil Rights Squad revealed that he sent a series of emails threatening the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil liberties organization based in Washington D.C.
Laufer is awaiting trial for allegedly lying in wait outside a Flushing mosque at 5 a.m. on November 18, 2012, then stabbing 57-year-old Bashir Ahmad six times when Ahmad arrived to unlock the mosque for morning prayers. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a press release at the time that Laufer had yelled “I’ll kill you Muslim [expletive redacted]” at Ahmad as the attack continued. Ahmad told the Daily News that Laufer stabbed him six times in the back, cut his head and thumb, and bit the tip of his nose.
Laufer wasn’t identified in the attack until June of 2013. In the meantime, he appears to have been busy: in a federal complaint, the FBI says that Laufer began sending threats to CAIR about ten months after the attack, in October of 2013.
Laufer faces a laundry list of charges, including attempted murder, which carries between five and 25 years in prison. District Attorney Brown also said the attack would be treated as a hate crime.
In his first email to CAIR, sent before he had been identified or arrested, Laufer made reference to the attack. According to a federal complaint, the email read:
Nice try in trying to set me up for Attempted Second Degree Murder as a hate crime.
You don’t know with whom you are messing with.
CAIR WILL NOW BE DESTROYED!
Laufer made little effort to hide his identity; he sent the email from an address that began with “blaufer.” He also helpfully included his phone number, which an FBI agent traced back to him by looking it up in the phone book.
Laufer was indicted on November 21, 2013, pleaded not guilty in December and was released on bail. His most recent court appearance was June 10 of this year. On June 14, according to the FBI, he sent another email to CAIR, this one addressed to their national executive director, Nihad Awad. It read:
Nihad Awad, i am coming after you.
You Jihadi Bastard.
Put your body guards on high alert.
Below that, Laufer signed his name. That same day, the FBI beleives he also phoned the CAIR offices several times. CAIR employees told the FBI the caller didn’t speak, but that they thought they heard the sound of gunshots before the caller hung up.
The next day, Laufer sent one more signed email to Awad:
I am going to take your eyes out and your balls out before I kill you so you can feel a little pain that you put me, my mother, my relatives and my friends through for the last nineteen months for nothing.
P.S. I hope your sleeping better now when you [sic] that mad man is after you, and will stop at nothing to kill you, your body guards and anyone else that is around you.
CAIR’s general counsel Nina Kraut tells the Voice that the organization decided to call the FBI because they believed Laufer might act on his threats.
“For us, this was a credible, immediate threat,” she says. “Given the guy’s background and the fact he’s got this pending charge where he actually acted against a Muslim in New York, we don’t take things like this lightly.”
Laufer is set to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court. At minimum he’ll face charges of using interstate commerce to threaten another person, which carries up to five years in prison.
The full complaint against Laufer is on the following page.