During a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Manhattan between 2021 and 2022, Saadah Masoud allegedly assaulted three Jewish men, dragging one of them across the sidewalk.
On Tuesday, Saadah Masoud, a Staten Island man accused of carrying out a string of attacks on Jews in New York City in 2021 and 2022, pled guilty to a federal hate crimes conspiracy charge.
In April, Mr. Masoud attacked a group of people in Midtown Manhattan who were supporting Palestinians. One of the people he killed was carrying an Israeli flag over his neck and slung across his back.
One of the protesters, Mr. Masoud, allegedly said to his victim, “I have something for you — wait until we are in private.”
Indictment: Mr. Masoud repeatedly pounded the victim in the head and face before dragging him across the pavement.
In addition, Mr. Masoud was charged with attacking two additional individuals in 2021.
According to the accusation, one of the men was wearing a necklace depicting the Star of David, while the other was dressed in traditional Jewish garb, including a skullcap.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, “Saadah Masoud purposefully targeted three victims because of their religion and nation of origin.”
This kind of disrespectful and hateful behavior has no place in our society. Mr. Masoud, who faces up to five years in prison, will be sentenced on March 3 by U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote of the Federal District Court in Manhattan.
The authorities in New York and elsewhere have been paying closer attention to incidents of antisemitism and extremist violence, which coincides with Mr. Masoud’s guilty plea.
Just last week, two individuals were arrested at New York’s Pennsylvania Station for allegedly being part of a “growing threat to the Jewish community,” as defined by the city’s police commissioner, Keechant L. Sewell.
The individuals had a military-style knife that was eight inches long, and the police also took away a rifle that had a 30-round magazine that they were using illegally.
Social media posts associated with one of the males were reportedly found to contain threats of violence, including the shooting up of a synagogue, according to law enforcement officials.
In court on Tuesday, Mr. Masoud said, “because I considered him to be an Israeli,” he “repeatedly hit” the guy carrying the Israeli flag.
Mr. Masoud stated that he was unable to determine the man’s race or ethnicity, but that he did see that he was carrying an Israeli flag.
I assaulted him when he was counter-protesting,” Mr. Masoud stated. A criminal complaint states that Mr. Greenman, the victim of Mr. Masoud’s attack, had facial swelling and bruises and was sent to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.
Speaking to PIX11 about the attack, Mr. Greenman claimed he had gone to the area around 42nd Street and First Avenue to witness the pro-Palestinian demonstration.
“I wanted to go and see what it was all about,” Mr. Greenman, a Jew, said in an interview.
Like a cape, I wore the Israeli flag on my back.
Mr. Greenman claimed his assailant “got me from behind; he got me to the ground” as other protesters began to form a protective perimeter around him.
I took a hit to the face from him.
Saying, “He kicked me in the face a lot,” he went on to describe the extent of the damage.
The Lawfare Project is a non-profit organization that claims to defend “the civil and human rights of the Jewish people,” and Gerard Filitti, the attorney who represents Mr. Greenman, has called Mr. Masoud’s guilty plea a significant breakthrough.
Mr. Filitti noted that “the Justice Department does not routinely investigate hate crimes against Jews.” It sends a strong message that attacks on the Jewish community will not be tolerated.
Mr. Masoud told Judge Cote in court that the man he hit was wearing a Star of David necklace, leading him to conclude that the individual was Israeli.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Masoud’s attorney Ronald L. Kuby said that his client’s “extended family over generations suffered severely at the hands of the Israeli government, and much of it has been passed down to him.”
In Mr. Kuby’s words, “That explains — but doesn’t justify — his conduct.”
Federal prosecutor Lindsey Keenan spoke before Judge Cote. He said that they had recently heard that Mr. Masoud may have “contacted and threatened a person who he perceives to be a government witness.”
Ms. Keenan stated that an investigation was being conducted by her office and that it was possible that the government would urge the judge to revoke Mr. Masoud’s bail. The judge cautioned Mr. Masoud to avoid any communication with any government witness.
A spokesperson for the Southern District’s criminal division, Nicholas Biase, said that Mr. Masoud’s case was the first to be charged by a newly formed civil rights unit.