When terrorists attacked America on 9/11, Mark Anthony Stroman went on a murderous rampage to, as he put it, “exact some measure of equality and fairness for the thousands of victims of September 11.”
With specific intent to kill Middle Eastern-looking men, Stroman shot 46-year-old Pakistani immigrant Waqar Hasan in the head on September 15, 2001. Six days later, he shot Bangladesh native Raisuddin Bhuiyan in the face at a gas station where Bhuiyan worked. He survived but was left blind in one eye. On October 4, Stroman walked into a gas station operated by 49-year-old Vasudev Patel and killed him with a shot to the chest. Patel was a Hindu, not Muslim, Arab or Middle Eastern. Stroman was convicted of Patel’s murder and sentenced to die.
With his execution date approaching, Stroman, a former member of the Aryan Brotherhood, has publicly declared his remorse, both for his actions and the underlying hatred that fueled them. “I cannot tell you that I am an innocent man. I am not asking you to feel sorry for me, and I won’t hide the truth,” he said from Texas death row at the Polunsky Correctional Unit. “I am a human being and made a terrible mistake out of love, grief and anger and, believe me, I am paying for it every single minute of the day.”
In a surprising twist to a story born of hatred and violence, one of Stroman’s biggest supporters is Bhuiyan, a devout Muslim, who survived being shot in the face by Stroman and whose testimony helped convict his attacker. Despite the pain Stroman has caused him and all of the victims’ families, Bhuiyan does not want him to die. “In order to live in a better and peaceful world, we need to break the cycle of hate and violence. I believe forgiveness is the best policy…” he said. “I forgave Mark Stroman many years ago. I believe he was ignorant and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have done what he did.”
Stroman is reported to have cried when he was told about Bhuiyan’s efforts to have his death sentenced commuted. “I am sorry to say I made innocent people pay for my rage, anger, grief and loss,” he said. “I have destroyed my victims’ families as well as my own. Out of pure anger and stupidity, I did some things to some men from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. And, now, I sit on death row awaiting execution. And, by no means, am I proud of what I have done.”
Barring a last-minute intervention, Stroman will die for his crimes on Wednesday, July 20, 2011.
Read more at CNN.com.