Retired State Department Diplomat Gets Five Years For Deluging Arab Group With Hundreds Of Emails, Threats

Via press release from the Justice Department:

William Patrick Syring, 61, of Arlington, Virginia, was today sentenced to 60 months in prison for 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.

“Threats aimed to intimidate individuals based on their ethnic or racial origin are despicable violations of civil rights freedoms protected by our constitution,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Department of Justice will continue to fight to preserve the basic rights of people to live, work, and speak in their communities without the fear of hostility based on racism.”

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.

From Syring’s Wikipedia page:

From 1993 to 1994, and from 1998 to 1999, Syring was consular/commercial officer at the United States Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. He was also posted to the United States Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1994-1998, and subsequently, to the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Office, among other assignments, at the United States Department of State. Syring retired from the State Department in July 2007. Syring’s retirement concluded a career of nearly 26 years at the State Department.

Syring was incarcerated for 111 days in the District of Columbia Department of Corrections prior to Syring’s sentencing on July 11, 2008. Syring pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges on June 12, 2008, was sentenced on July 11, 2008 to one year in prison, but was released from prison early in January 2009. His sentence included a fine of US$10,000, paid in July 2008, three years post-release supervision, completed on January 27, 2012, and 100 hours community service completed in April 2009

Courthouse News reports:

“The only good Arab is a dead Arab,” “Arabs are dogs,” and “death to Arabs,” were just a few of the racist messages Syring left for the institute in 2006. He retired from the State Department a year later but it would be another year still before he was convicted. He served a year for those crimes.

But old habits die hard and in 2012, Syring resumed targeting the nonprofit and its employees. Deluging staffers again, this time with more than 700 emails and at least five death threats, the ominous emails and vows like “death to Lebanon” made life nightmarish for staffers.

During testimony in court, employees said they were terrified Syring would make good on his threats and physically harm them. His haunting messages, they testified, caused fear to spread from themselves to members of their family and their friends.