A man who police believe has an affinity for marijuana — and occasionally cocaine — was charged with a different crime Sunday: The stalking and assault of a Jewish Miami Beach man who said Diego Chaar yelled at him in Arabic then threatened to cut his head off.
Chaar, 24, was picked up by Miami Beach detectives Sunday and escorted to police headquarters, where they say he admitted to passing David Weberman outside the Ohev Shalom Congregation and telling him, “I will cut your head off.”
“He agreed to go to the station and speak,” said Miami Beach Detective Vivian Thayer. If the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office chooses to consider Chaar’s actions a hate crime, it could act as an enhancement during any sentencing. A hate crime in itself is not a charge.
Police say Weberman and a friend were walking outside the temple at 7055 Bonita Dr., at 9:24 p.m. Saturday when Chaar looked directly at Weberman and yelled “Allahu Akbar,” an Arabic term meaning God is great. When Weberman ignored the comment, Chaar allegedly then yelled, “Heads will be cut off.”
Weberman then called 911 from his cell phone, the arrest affidavit says, and police responded. But before they arrived Weberman had managed to follow Chaar and spotted him hiding behind a car. Police briefly questioned Chaar and wrote up a report, but released him.
Then, according to the police report, about 45 minutes later or shortly after 10 p.m., Chaar returned to the synagogue, walked past Weberman again, and repeated “Allahu Akbar,” before walking away. The victim called police again, who found Chaar on Sunday, took him to the police station, and arrested him.
Weberman couldn’t be reached for comment and by late Tuesday there was still was no record of Chaar checking in at Miami-Dade County Corrections. But the Anti-Defamation League weighed in, saying “menacing and ugly threats have no place in our society.”
“They are a symptom of the ideological ills plaguing the suspect who spoke them, and they are a symptom of the disease called hate,” ADL Florida Regional Director Hava Holzhauer said in a written statement.
It’s not Chaar’s first brush with the law, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records. Those records show he was arrested nine times between 2006 and 2013 mostly for possession of marijuana, but three times on cocaine charges. Yet in every case, in jurisdictions from Orlando to Sunny Isles to Miami Beach, the charges were dropped.
According to an old NBC 6 report, Chaar appears to also be familiar to Miami Beach detectives because three years ago a man also named Diego Chaar claimed someone had threatened his life. In that instance, the television station reported Chaar told police Armando Rodriguez entered his apartment on the night of Feb. 11, 2012, beat him over the head with a crowbar, stuck a gun in his mouth, and demanded Chaar hand over marijuana and cocaine. Miami Beach police had not confirmed that report by late Tuesday.
Sunday marked at least the third time hatred has been spewed toward Jewish Miami Beach residents since last fall. In September a homeless man was caught scrawling a swastika and the letters “KKK” on a temporary sign at Temple Emanu-el, the oldest Conservative Jewish congregation on the Beach. That same week someone spray painted a similar sawstika and “KKK” on the wall of a Publix Supermarket in Surfside.