White supremacist executed for 9/11 revenge spree despite plea from victim
Despite a dramatic legal effort by one of his victims to prevent the execution, a white supremacist was put to death early yesterday for killing an Asian shopkeeper. Mark Stroman, 41, had gone on a shooting spree that he claimed was in retaliation for the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
Stroman died by lethal injection in the Texas death chamber in Huntsville, after a state appeals court had rejected the claim of Rais Bhuiyan – a Bangladeshi man who had been shot by Stroman but survived – that his Muslim religion allowed him to forgive his assailant.
"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."
He argued that state officials had not allowed him to meet his attacker as part of a rehabilitation programme. But the Texas court was not swayed, removing Stroman's last chance of a stay after the US Supreme Court in Washington had refused to intervene.
Less that an hour later, Stroman, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood supremacist group, went to his death with something of a Texas swagger.
He called himself "still a proud American, Texas loud, Texas proud," adding "God bless America. God bless everyone." Then, as he lay strapped to a trolley, he turned his head to the prison warden and said, "Let's do this damn thing."
In his rampage through Dallas three weeks after 9/11, Stroman killed two people as well as wounding Mr Bhuiyan and blinding him in one eye. He said he was targeting Arabs. "I wanted those Arabs to feel the same sense of vulnerability and uncertainty on American soil," he once declared, but all three of his victims were from south Asia.
He described his victims as "perched behind the counter here in the land of milk and honey... this foreigner whose 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".
He maintained throughout that he was motivated by the loss of a sister who died in the collapse of one of the World Trade Centre towers in New York. Prosecutors however said it was doubtful the sister ever existed.
By the end he had repented of his crimes, acknowledging he had destroyed his victims and their families "out of pure anger and stupidity," and declaring that he was "not the monster the media portrays me".
What is not in doubt is that Stroman had a long criminal record. He had taken part in an armed robbery when he was only 12, and at the time of the rampage he was free on bail for a gun possession arrest. Before that, he had been convicted for burglary, theft and credit card fraud, and had served at least two terms in jail.
Stroman is the eighth person this year to be executed in Texas, the leading death penalty state in the US, which alone has accounted for more than a third of the 1,262 executions in the US since capital punishment resumed in 1976. But the rate has fallen by more than half since the peak year of 1999 when 98 people were put to death.
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