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Post-9/11 hate killer executed in Texas

22 july 2011, 10:26
0
Death row inmate Mark Stroman. ©AFP
Death row inmate Mark Stroman. ©AFP
Authorities in Texas executed a racist killer who went on an anti-Muslim shooting rampage following the 9/11 attacks after pleas by one of his victims for his life to be spared were rejected, AFP reports.

Mark Stroman, 41, was pronounced dead late Wednesday from a lethal injection administered at a jail in Huntsville, Texas, a decade on from a shooting spree which left two people dead and seriously wounded a third victim, Rais Bhuiyan.

"I am at peace," said Stroman in his final statement. "Hate is going on in this world and it has to stop. Hate causes a lifetime of pain. Even though I lay here I am still at peace."

The execution was carried out at at 8:53 pm (0153 GMT Thursday) after a request by Bhuiyan for a stay of execution was denied by a judge.

Stroman's attorney, Lydia Brandt, told the final court appeal that Stroman became "emotionally overwhelmed" after the Al-Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001, fed by a pain that was quickly replaced by "rage."

"He became obsessed with 'fighting back' against the Muslims who attacked America," said Brandt.

But according to Brandt, Stroman "would not know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, or between Arabic and Urdu."

Four days after the attacks, Stroman killed his first victim in Dallas: Waqar Hasan was a Pakistani Muslim, and Stroman shot him without asking any questions. Hasan died instantly.

On September 21, Stroman pulled up at a gas station where Bhuiyan was working in the Dallas area and shot him in the face. Bhuiyan survived but only after losing the use of one eye.

The third and final victim of Stroman's rampage was Vasudev Patel, a Hindu. It is for Patel's death that Stroman was sentenced to capital punishment in April 2002.

During his sentencing, according to images shown on CBS, Stroman brandished an American flag and claimed his affiliation with the Aryan Brotherhood, a group of white supremacists.

Nearly 10 years later and days before his scheduled execution, The New York Times interviewed a transformed Stroman.

"The hate has to stop, we are all in this world together," he told the paper in its Tuesday edition. "We need more forgiveness and understanding and less hate."

According to a report in the Texas-based American Statesman newspaper, Bhuiyan had been telling a district judge that he wanted Stroman to explain to him why he had shot him when another court issued an order prohibiting him from continuing.

"He's gone," he said after the execution. "Who's going to give me my answers?"

Stroman had previously spoken of how he had been touched by Bhuiyan's efforts to save his life.

"Mr. Rais Bhuiyan, what an inspiring soul," Stroman told the Times.

Bhuiyan, a practicing Muslim, campaigned to stop the execution and commute Stroman's sentence to life in prison.

In the Times, Bhuiyan attributed his views to his upbringing. "My parents raised me with good morals and strong faith. They taught me to put yourself in others' shoes.

"Even if they hurt you, don't take revenge," he said. "Forgive them. Move on. It will bring something good to you and them."

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