VESTAL — Encounters with accused killer Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani led several local Muslims to take steps to avoid him when they saw him on campus or elsewhere in the community.
Al-Zahrani, the man accused of fatally stabbing Binghamton University Professor Richard Antoun on campus Friday, had accused fellow Middle Eastern students of following him, answering a greeting of peace with an obscene insult, and disparaging a local mosque, according to three students interviewed Saturday night.
“Tell these students not to follow me,” Awni Qasaimeh, a Jordanian studying for his doctorate in industrial and systems engineering, said Al-Zahrani told him last week. “Do not make me trouble.”
Qasaimeh said Al-Zahrani mentioned three students by name, causing Qasaimeh to wonder if Al-Zahrani might want to harm the students. To Qasaimeh, Al-Zahrani did not behave like a Muslim because he smoked tobacco during Ramadan and failed to attend Friday prayer services.
Mohammad Hamasha, another doctoral student from Jordan, recalled an encounter with Al-Zahrani on a bus in Johnson City a year ago.Hamasha said he addressed Al-Zahrani with a traditional Muslim greeting meaning “peace be upon you.” He said Al-Zahrani responded, “you are the brother of a (expletive).”
And from presscontacts.com:
The two apartment-mates of the man charged with stabbing a Binghamton University professor to death on Friday said Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani was confrontational, argumentative and “acted like a terrorist.”
The three men lived together for the past three weeks in a first-floor unit on Main Street in Binghamton. The men were brought together by a landlord, who rented a vacant room to Al-Zahrani, a 46-year-old Saudi national who was working on his doctorate at BU.
Souleyman Sukho, a Senegalese doctoral student at BU, said during the three weeks the men lived together, Al-Zahrani “came at me with a knife.”
“He asked me if I was afraid of dying,” Sukho said. “Then he went into his room. I told him, ‘don’t ask me the question if you don’t want to hear my answer.’
“He behaved like a terrorist,” Sukho said. “He would open his door and would be screaming on the phone.”
“He claimed he was persecuted.”
The other roommate, Luis Pena, a 22-year-old master’s degree student at BU, said he tried to mitigate the tension between Al-Zahrani and Sukho, but he, too, was concerned about Al-Zahrani’s actions.
“He would be sitting here on the sofa and just blurt out, ‘I just feel like destroying the world,”’ Pena said. “He would just make weird remarks.
“He comes off calm (but) he could flip in a second,” Pena said.
More: Binghamton Univ officials knew killer was a threat (also, read Al-Zahrani’s thesis)