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Suspect in Hanukkah party stabbing faces hate crimes charges

Suspect in Hanukkah party stabbing faces hate crimes charges
Grafton Thomas faces 10 federal hate crimes charges. File Photo courtesy of Rockland County Correctional Center

Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A New York grand jury on Thursday levied new federal hate crime charges against a man accused of attacking and injuring five people celebrating Hanukkah in a rabbi's home.

Grafton Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., faces five new counts of willfully causing bodily injury to victims because of their religion and five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill.

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He already faced five state counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary for entering the Monsey, N.Y., home of a Hasidic Jewish rabbi and using a machete to attack a group of people observing Hanukkah.

Thomas was ordered held on $5 million bail.

FBI investigators said they found journal entries allegedly written by Thomas in which he expressed anti-Semitic views, referencing Adolf Hitler and "Nazi culture."

They said another journal entry allegedly stated that "Hebrew Israelites" had victimized "ebonoid Israelites," which the FBI took to mean African Americans claiming descent from the ancient tribes of Israel.

"The United States remains today a beacon of freedom for persecuted religious people all over the world, and violent attacks against anyone because of religion are both illegal and against everything our nation stands for," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said. "The United States Department of Justice will continue to prosecute anyone who engages in such conduct to the fullest extent of the law."

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