'9/11 revenge' killer executed in Texas

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The Independent US

A Texas man was executed early today for killing a convenience store clerk during a shooting spree he said was retaliation for the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.

The lethal injection was briefly delayed as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals considered a final appeal. The US Supreme Court had earlier rejected appeals.

Mark Stroman, 41, claimed the shooting spree that killed two men and injured a third targeted people of Middle Eastern descent, though all three victims were from South Asia.

It was the death of 49-year-old Vasudev Patel in October 2001 that put Stroman on death row.

The lone survivor, Bangladeshi Rais Bhuiyan, had unsuccessfully sued to stop the execution, saying his Muslim beliefs told him to forgive.

From the death chamber, Stroman asked for God's grace and said hate in the world had to stop.

"Even though I lay on this gurney, seconds away from my death, I am at total peace," he said. He later called himself "still a proud American, Texas loud, Texas proud".

"God bless America. God bless everyone," he added, then turned to the warden and said: "Let's do this damn thing."

Mr Bhuiyan, who lost the sight in one eye when Stroman shot him in the face, had said he wanted to spend time with the killer to learn more about why the shootings occurred.

"Killing him is not the solution," Mr Bhuiyan said. "He's learning from his mistake. If he's given a chance, he's able to reach out to others and spread that message to others."

Stroman's execution was the eighth this year in Texas. At least eight other inmates in the nation's busiest death penalty state have execution dates in the coming weeks.

Stroman was on bail for a gun possession arrest when his shooting spree started. He had previous convictions for burglary, robbery, theft and credit card abuse, served at least two prison terms and was parolled twice. His juvenile record showed an armed robbery at 12.

When police arrested him the day Mr Patel was killed, they found the .44-calibre handgun used in the shooting.

Stroman confessed, and court documents show he told authorities he belonged to the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang. Prosecutors also say he told another jail inmate about the shootings and how automatic weapons police found in his car were intended for a planned attack at a Dallas-area shopping mall.

Stroman blamed the shootings on the loss of a sister in the collapse of one of the World Trade Centre towers - although prosecutors said in court documents there was no firm evidence she existed.

"I wanted those Arabs to feel the same sense of vulnerability and uncertainty on American soil much like the mindset of chaos and bedlam that they were already accustomed to in their home country," he said on a website devoted to his case.

He described his victims as "perched behind the counter here in the Land of Milk and Honey ... this foreigner who's own people had now sought to bring the exact same chaos and bewilderment upon our people and society as they lived in themselves at home and abroad".

But he added he had made a "terrible mistake out of love, grief and anger" and had destroyed his victims' families "out of pure anger and stupidity".

"I'm not the monster the media portrays me," he said last week from death row.

Besides Mr Patel's death, Stroman was charged but not tried over the shooting death of Waqar Hasan, 46, a Pakistani immigrant who moved to Dallas in 2001 to open a convenience store.

Mr Hasan was killed four days after the terrorists struck. The attack on Mr Bhuiyan came a week later.