Texas executes 9/11 ‘revenge’ killer Stroman
Murderer dies despite plea for clemency by man he shot and blinded
Mark Stroman, a former white supremacist who claimed to have seen the error of his ways, yesterday became the eighth person to be executed in Texas this year, despite a last-minute plea for clemency from a man he shot and blinded.
Stroman was out on bail over gun offences when he shot dead two men and wounded a third in a spree that took place in the weeks immediately after the World Trade Center attacks of 11 September, 2001. His victims were all convenience store workers.
Vasudev Patel and Waqar Hasan were both shot dead, and Rais Bhuiyan was blinded in one eye, by Stroman who believed he was targeting Arabs in a revenge attack for the 9/11 incident. In fact, all three men were originally from South Asia.
When he was arrested, Stroman confessed his actions. It was the killing of 49-year-old Patel, an Indian immigrant, at a petrol station that put him on Texas's death row. He was charged with the killing of Hasan, but never tried for it.
Stroman had previous convictions for burglary, robbery, theft and fraud and court documents showed he had been a member of the notorious Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang.
It was an apparent conversion to tolerance on Stroman's part - and Bhuiyan's unorthodox plea for clemency - that brought the case to world attention. Stroman appeared to have changed in prison, coming to terms with his actions.
He said the killings were a "terrible mistake out of love, grief and anger" and were committed "out of pure anger and stupidity". Speaking to journalists this week he said the "hate" had to stop.
Bhuiyan made a last minute plea to exercise his victim's rights for mediation with Stroman, which would have necessitated a stay of execution. He told the press: "In order to live in a better and peaceful world, we need to break the cycle of hate and violence."
He said a pilgrimage to Mecca had helped him to be reconciled with his attacker and, in a lawsuit, argued that executing Stroman would deny Bhuiyan the right to forgive him, in line with his Muslim faith.
However, the remorse expressed by Stroman is at odds with the writings on his website, which form a sea of self-justification. "This was not a crime of hate but an act of Passion and Patriotism," he wrote in 2002.
Stroman also maintained to the end that his 27-year-old sister had died in the 9/11 attacks – despite prosecution claims that there was no evidence he had ever had a sister.
Stroman's death by fatal injection was delayed for two hours yesterday evening as Bhuiyan's appeal was considered by the Supreme Court. Associated Press reports that, when it went ahead, Stroman told the assembled witnesses: "Even though I lay on this gurney seconds away from my death, I am at total peace."
He added: "God bless America. God bless everyone," before turning to the prison warden and saying: "Let's do this damn thing."
As he was injected and began to lose consciousness, he began to count: "One, two… There it goes."
Stroman died eleven minutes later at 8.53pm local time.