Richard Antoun, 77, professor of Middle East studies at Binghamton University and author of several books on Islam, geopolitical and religious issues was stabbed to death at approximately 1:41 pm on Friday, 4 December 2009 by an Islamic assailant. The suspect has been identified as 46 year-old Binghamton University graduate student Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani, a Saudi national.
According to a combination of witness accounts and reports from law enforcement sources, Al-Zahrani entered the professor's office in the science building where Antoun was working and used a kitchen knife with a six-inch blade to stab the victim at least four times.
Antoun was taken to Wilson Regional Medical Center in Johnson City, NY, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
According to a combination of sources at the scene, Binhamton University Police confronted Al-Zahrani immediately after the attack, subdued and arrested him. He was charged with one count of second degree murder by police. Al-Zahrani was arraigned Saturday before Justice Joseph Meagher in Town of Vestal court and remanded to the Broome County Jail without bail.
Investigation found that Al-Zahrani, a resident of Binghamton, NY, is a cultural anthropology graduate student who is working on his doctoral thesis titled, "Sacred Voice, Profane Sight: The Senses, Cosmology, and Epistemology in Early Arabic Culture." Fellow students and area residents described Al-Zahrani.
Described as threatening and confrontational by his two Christian roommates, Souleymane Sakho and Luis Pena, both post-graduate students at Binghamton University, they stated that Al Zahrani often put them down due to their Christian beliefs. Al Zahrani was also described as rabidly anti-Israel, and authored several recent postings on Arabic language web sites that degraded Israel and Jews.
Antoun published several books on the Middle East, including his August 2001 work titled "Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic and Jewish Movements."
On Saturday, Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen stated that there is no indication that the murder of Professor Antoun is a hate crime.