Stabbing suspect to return to Michigan to face charges

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Elias Abuelazam
Image caption,
Elias Abuelazam was stopped at an Atlanta airport as he tried to board a flight to Israel

A man arrested in connection with a series of nearly 20 stabbings in three US states has agreed to return to Michigan from Georgia to face charges in one of the attacks.

Elias Abuelazam told a judge in Atlanta he wanted to stay in Georgia, but was told he should go to Michigan to fight the attempted murder charge there.

He is expected to face more charges in other states, officials said.

Mr Abuelazam, an Israeli citizen, was arrested in Atlanta on Thursday.

Mr Abuelazam's lawyer, who was not present at the morning hearing, requested a second one for later on Friday.

Mr Abuelazam agreed to waive an extradition hearing, a proceeding in which the state of Michigan could have argued why he should be returned.

On Thursday, a judge in Flint, Michigan, where 14 attacks took place, signed a warrant charging Mr Abuelazam with assault with intent to commit murder in connection with a stabbing on 27 July.

Mr Abuelazam is being linked by police to stabbings in Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan.

Israel link

Meanwhile, Israeli police said on Friday that Mr Abuelazam had also been linked to a separate stabbing attack in Israel earlier this year. Charges were never filed over the incident.

Mr Abuelazam is an Israeli citizen and permanent US resident, a Michigan official told the Associated Press.

He grew up in a Christian Arab community in Ramla, in central Israel, newspaper reports in Israel say.

The suspect was arrested at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport as he tried to board a Delta Air Lines flight to Tel Aviv in Israel.

The stabbings have occurred on average about once every four days since the end of May.

Because the victims have mostly been black in the US, police suspect the attacks in the three US states may have been racially motivated.