In the weeks and months following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, many Americans became more patriotic. They tied yellow ribbons around trees, raised the flag, donated blood and enlisted in the military. Others, however, decided to seek revenge, and because their targets were so far away, they opted to hurt anyone who appeared to fit a specific profile.

In the past 10 years, the FBI has investigated more than 800 cases of violence against Arab-Americans, Muslims, Sikhs or people perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin. It is unknown how many of these “revenge attacks” were investigated by local authorities, but some were fatal.

One of these crimes happened on Sept. 15, 2001. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh, was working at the gas station he owned in Mesa, Ariz., when Frank Roque drove by. Incensed by the 9/11 attacks, Roque rolled down his window, pulled out a gun and shot Balbir five times, killing him. Balbir left behind a wife and five children.

Roque bragged about shooting Balbir as “revenge for 9/11,” and described him as a “towel head.” He also fired several shots into the home of a family of Afghan descent, but no one was harmed. Roque was later arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. The death penalty was eventually overturned and he’s now serving life in prison.

That same month, a Texan named Mark Stroman launched a shooting spree against anyone he encountered who looked Arab. He killed two men and injured a third — none of whom were even from the Middle East — before he was caught, convicted and put on death row.

Rais Bhuiyan, the lone survivor of the attack who lost his sight in one eye after Stroman shot him in the face, unsuccessfully sued to stop the execution because his religious beliefs told him to forgive. The courts denied that request and Stroman was put to death on July 20 of this year.

Despite being the victim of a post-9/11 revenge attack, Bhuyian said the incident helped him to realize that hate doesn’t bring a peaceful solution to any situation. “Hate only brings fear, misery, resentment and disaster into human lives,” he wrote on his website. “It creates obstacles to healthy human growth, which, in turn, diminishes society as a whole.”

[Al Jazeera English]