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FBI investigating possible terrorism link in Roanoke knife attack

Wasil Farooqui, 20 of Roanoke County has been charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding and is being held without bond at the Western Virginia Regional Jail. (Western Virginia Regional Jail)
Wasil Farooqui, 20 of Roanoke County has been charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding and is being held without bond at the Western Virginia Regional Jail. (Western Virginia Regional Jail)
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ROANOKE Co., Va. (WSET) -- The FBI has launched an investigation after police say a 20-year-old stabbed a man and woman at a Roanoke apartment complex.

The incident happened outside an apartment complex on Saturday night in what police are describing as a 'random attack.'

The suspect is identified as Wasil Rafat Farooqui of Roanoke County.

According to police, witnesses said the attacker was yelling "Allahu Akbar," meaning "God is greatest," during the assault.

A search warrant reveals that Farooqui told detectives he left his house to clear his head taking a butcher knife from the kitchen with him.

Detectives say Farooqui parked his vehicle at the Pines Apartments where he says he began hearing voices telling him that he was stupid and to attack someone.

According to the warrant, Farooqui then described how he saw two people leaving the pool heading back to their 3rd floor apartment. He says that's when he took the knife, ran into the apartment behind the victims and stabbed them several times, according to the warrant.

Police described the scene as "large amount of blood inside the apartment and large amounts of blood outside, leaving a trail to where the victims were located." They say Farooqui cut the man's throat during the attack.

Police say a large kitchen knife with blood on it was found on the second floor of the stairwell.

Farooqui told detectives he didn't know the victims or why he attacked them.

Following the attack, Farooqui went to his father's tobacco store where is father took him to the hospital for injuries he sustained in the attack.

Police are now searching his home and taking evidence, including computers, to see if incident was planned or premeditated.

Farooqui, who was born in the United States and is a U.S. citizen, attended school at Hidden Valley Middle from '06 to '09 and Hidden Valley High from '09 to '12, according to Chuck Lionberger, the Roanoke County Public Schools Community Relations Specialist.

Lionberger says Farooqi would have been apart of the class of 2013, however he never graduated for reasons that can't be shared due to privacy.

Farooqui only has two prior traffic citations on record, both of which occurred in Salem, Va.

According to ABC News who cited sources close to the investigation, Farooqui traveled to Turkey and may have tried to sneak into Syria in the past year. Farooqui was born in the United States, and is a U.S. citizen, according to inmate information found on the Western Virginia Regional Jail website.

The Masjid An Nur Islamic Center in Roanoke released a statement Tuesday condemning the attack saying, in part:

"While an investigation is on-going as to the motives of the attacker, terrible acts such as this one violate the basic tenets of any religion, including Islam. There is never any justification for terrorism and violence. Anyone who takes or attempts to take the life of another is not following the teachings of their religion."

And some Roanoke residents say they aren't letting this incident get to them, but others say it could be a sign of more problems to come.

"In this area, we really don't have stuff like that going on, so I really just think that was a one time thing," said one resident.

As xenophobia continues to spread in the U.S., one man says he hopes folks won't let Farooqui's actions change how they view local Muslims. "When an incident like this happens and a Muslim is the perpetrator, I think too often we become fearful of the Muslim community, and that's not fair to those people," he said.

But others say with more immigrants coming into America, the government needs to do more to make sure individuals motivated by hate aren't coming in with them. "The vetting process needs to be increased. You never know who's coming in here, so we just have to be vigilant," the Roanoke resident said.

Just last year, the mayor of Roanoke was in hot water for comments he made about fear of Syrian refugees coming to Roanoke in light of ISIS-related attacks.

He later apologized for his statements.

Farooqui has been charged with two counts of malicious wounding causing permanent impairment according to jail records. He is being held without bond at the Western Virginia Regional Jail.

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