New York Hanukkah machete attack suspect pleads not guilty to federal charges
WHITE PLAINS, New York (Reuters) - The man accused of stabbing at least five people in a machete rampage at the home of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges on Monday. A federal grand jury indicted Grafton Thomas, 37, late last week with additional counts of hate crimes for the Dec.
WHITE PLAINS, New York (Reuters) - The man accused of stabbing at least five people in a machete rampage at the home of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges on Monday.
A federal grand jury indicted Grafton Thomas, 37, late last week with additional counts of hate crimes for the Dec. 28 stabbing of members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey, New York, bringing the number of federal charges he faces to 10.
Each count carries a maximum prison term of life.
Thomas attended his arraignment in White Plains, a suburb north of New York City, in orange jail fatigues as members of his family sat in the courtroom and waved at him.
He spoke only briefly to answer the judge's questions, confirming his name and age and saying that he has taken the drug Prozac.
Federal prosecutors have said Thomas targeted his victims because of their Jewish faith. In a criminal complaint filed last month, they cited journals they seized from the suspect's home containing references to Adolf Hitler, Nazi culture and the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, identified by extremism experts as an anti-Jewish hate group.
Thomas also faces state charges for the attack, which his attorney, pointing to his client's long history of mental illness, has said was likely an expression of psychosis rather than bigotry.
The Monsey attack capped a string of incidents in which Jews have been physically attacked or accosted in the New York metropolitan area in recent weeks, including a shooting at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey that left two members of the Hasidic community dead.
One of the suspects in that attack - who died in the shooting - had also expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites.
The most recent national numbers from the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism found 780 anti-Semitic incidents reported to or detected by the organization in the United States in the first half of 2019, compared with 785 incidents reported for the same period in 2018.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Scott Malone, Tom Brown and Dan Grebler)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.