Bernhard Laufer, 59, of 65th Road was convicted last month of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault and second-degree assault, all of which were classified as hate crimes. Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Schwartz ordered Laufer on Wednesday, Dec. 14, to serve 20 years in prison and five years’ probation.
“[Laufer] waged a war of terror against this mosque,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement on Wednesday. “Before this vicious attack, he repeatedly called the mosque and threaten to kill all Muslims. … A jury found him guilty and a judge has now sentenced the defendant to a lengthy term behind bars.”
Brown said Laufer orchestrated his hate-filled rampage at the Masjid Al-Saaliheen Mosque on Kissena Boulevard between Nov. 16 and Nov. 18, 2012. On the first day, he smashed a door and broke a door handle with a rock. He also left threatening messages on the mosque’s voicemail system.
Prosecutors said Laufer returned to the mosque early on the morning of Nov. 18, as he followed a 57-year-old man to the front door at about 4:50 a.m. that morning. As the victim unlocked the door, according to trial testimony, Laufer stabbed him in the head, then bit him in the nose before stabbing him again in the back, leg and thumb.
Officers from the 107th Precinct and EMS units responded to the incident. The victim was treated at a local hospital for his injuries.
Members of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force traced the threatening phone calls back to Laufer’s home phone. They were also able to link Laufer to the stabbing through DNA testing, as his genetic profile matched DNA found on a pair of eyeglasses that he apparently dropped at the scene during the attack.
Laufer was previously convicted in March 2015 on federal charges for sending hate-filled emails to an employee at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).