A Queens man was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday for the attempted murder of a worshipper at a mosque in Flushing, Queens. Bernhard Laufer, of Rego Park, was previously convicted for sending death threats to the executive director of a Muslim nonprofit.
In a statement, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Laufer, 59, "waged a war of terror against" the Masjid Al-Saaliheen mosque on Kissena Boulevard.
On November 16th, 2012, Laufer smashed the mosque's front door and broke the door handle with a stone—later that day, as well as the following day, he called the mosque and left several "threatening messages" on the answering machine, authorities said. And on November 18th, around 4:50 a.m., Laufer followed a man up the stairs leading up to the mosque, stabbed him, and bit his nose.
Prosecutors said that Laufer stabbed the victim, then-57-year-old Bashir Ahmad, several times in the head, arm, back, and hand before biting his nose. Ahmad was unlocking the door for morning prayers when Laufer stabbed him.
Ahmad survived the attack and later told the Daily News that he recalled Laufer yelling "I'll kill you, Muslim [expletive]" as he was stabbing him.
Laufer dropped his glasses during the attack, leaving behind DNA evidence which investigators used to prosecute him. Laufer had also made the threatening calls to the mosque from his home phone number, prosecutors said.
Laufer was found guilty of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault, second-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal mischief, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. All of the charges were prosecuted as hate crimes, and Laufer was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison followed by five years' post-release supervision.
Last year, Laufer was also sentenced to 13 months in prison—which he had already served at the time of sentencing—for sending death threats to the founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic relations.
Laufer sent emails threatening to maim and kill Nihad Awad in June 2014. Prosecutors said he called Awad a "Jihadi Bastard" and threatened to mutilate him and gouge out his eyes "before I kill you." He signed the emails with his full name.
"I don't think the sentence will act as a deterrent for those who intend to target the Muslim community," Awad told the Times after Laufer's first sentencing.