This is a follow-up to an item we posted in March 2018 (Ex-FSO William Syring Charged With Hate Crime and Threats to Arab American Institute Employees). On February 21, 2018 USDOJ indicted former foreign service officer William Patrick Syring for hate crime and threatening employees of the Arab American Institute. Syring was previously charged in 2006 for similar threats in four emails and three voicemails. He retired from the State Department in July 2007 and he pleaded guilty in that previous case in June 2008.
The 2018 indictment alleged he sent 350 e-mails from March 2012 to January 2018.
On May 9, 2019, USDOJ announced Syring’s conviction:
William Patrick Syring, 61, of Arlington, Virginia, was convicted today of threatening employees of the Arab American Institute (AAI), because of their race and national origin, threatening AAI employees because of their efforts to encourage Arab Americans to participate in political and civic life in the United States, and transmitting threats to AAI employees in interstate commerce. Syring was convicted on all 14 counts in the indictment.
“Threats aimed at individuals because of their race and national origin have no place in our society and violate federal civil rights laws,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Department of Justice will continue to hold criminals accountable who commit such acts of hate so that all individuals in this country can engage in civic life and political discourse.”
Evidence presented at trial established that from 2012 to 2017, Syring sent over 700 emails to AAI employees, culminating in five death threats in 2017. According to court documents, Syring previously pleaded guilty in 2008 to sending threatening emails to AAI employees. Evidence presented at trial showed that Syring used nearly identical language that he admitted were threats in 2008 as he did in 2017.
According to testimony in court, AAI employees were frightened of Syring, because he had sent them death threats in the past and continued to do so over a decade later. Additionally, according to witness testimony, many AAI employees lived in fear that Syring would follow through his threats and physically harm them. They further testified to the toll it took on them personally and their families and loved ones.
Sentencing is set for Aug. 9. The maximum penalties for the convictions is 42 years of imprisonment.
The case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office and is being prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Senior Legal Counsel Mark Blumberg and Trial Attorney Nick Reddick.
“The only good Arab is a dead Arab” was among the hundreds of messages former diplomat Patrick Syring sent @AAIUSA staffers for more than a decade. Defense argued free speech. Jury disagreed & convicted, inc on 7 federal hate crime charges. https://t.co/aCY3a8Oj1i
— Hannah Allam (@HannahAllam) May 10, 2019
An ex-US diplomat called Patrick Syring, who had been based in Lebanon in the 90s, sent messages saying things like "Arabs are dogs" & "Death to Lebanon" during the 2006 war. He's now convicted of hate speech & faces up to 14 years in prison https://t.co/g0OBeE94xh
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) May 10, 2019