A Decade Later, Former Diplomat Again Charged With Threatening Arab Group

A former U.S. diplomat was indicted Wednesday in federal court on fourteen counts related to alleged frequent threats against employees of an Arab-American organization.

Nearly a decade ago, the former diplomat, Patrick Syring of Arlington, Viriginia, pleaded guilty to almost identical charges, and served jail time. 

TPM reported in 2007 that Syring — who served for decades in the State Department and at one point worked out of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon — left a voicemail for James Zogby, the director of the the Arab American Institute (AAI), with the message: “The only good Lebanese is a dead Lebanese. The only good Arab is a dead Arab.”

Syring followed up with an email to Zogby praising Israel for “bombing Lebanon back to the Stone Age where it belongs.”

AAI is a well-regarded Washington-based organization that promotes Arab-Americans’ involvement in civic life, and Zogby has been a prominent spokesman for Arab-American causes.

According to the Justice Department at the time, Syring “admitted that he sent a series of threatening email and voicemail communications to six employees of AAI in July 2006, that he intended to interfere with his victims’ employment, and that he sought to intimidate the victims because of their race as Arab- Americans and their national origin as Lebanese-Americans.”

According to the charges filed against Syring Wednesday, shortly after his prison time and supervised release had ended following his previous guilty plea, he began threatening AAI employees again.

Syring allegedly sent AAI employees “over 350 e-mails from March 2012 to January 2018,” according to a Justice Department press release.

“Several of the e-mails Syring sent to AAI employees during this time period contained true threats using language similar to that which formed the basis of his prior conviction,” the Justice Department said.

The new charges against Syring include multiple counts each of threatening AAI employees because of their race and national origin, threatening AAI employees because of their efforts to encourage Arab civic engagement, and transmitting threats against AAI employees in interstate commerce.

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