New Mexico police charge suspect with ambush murder of Muslim men

A 51-year-old Afghan man was charged Tuesday with the murders of two Muslim men in Albuquerque, NM, and authorities said he is suspected in the killings of two others who perpetrated the killings. fear in the Muslim community across the country.

Officials announced the arrest of Muhammad Syed a day after he was taken into custody.

Naeem Hussain, 25, from Pakistan, was killed on Friday night. His death comes just days after Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, were also of Pakistani descent and members of the same mosque.

The first known victim, Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, of Afghan descent, was killed on November 7, 2021, while smoking outside the grocery store and cafe he ran with his brother. in the southeast of the city.

Syed was officially charged with two of the murders: Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, killed on July 26 and August 1, respectively, but he is considered a suspect. guilty in all four murders, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference.

When told about the announcement, Muhammad Imtiaz Hussain, brother of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, said he was relieved but needed to know more about the suspect and motive.

“This gives us hope that we will have (the truth) come out,” he said. “We need to know why.”

A smiling man stands between two flags and a sign that says "City of Espanola."
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, seen in this undated photo released by the City of Espanola, was killed on August 1, 2022. (City of Espanola via The Associated Press)

Bullet casings linked 2 murders, police say

Prosecutors are expected to file murder charges in state court and are considering one more federal case, authorities said.

Police said the two murders for which Syed was initially charged were tied together based on bullet casings found at the murder scene. The investigation started there.

According to police, detectives were preparing to search Syed’s home in southeastern Albuquerque on Monday when he was driving from his residence in a vehicle that investigators identified a day earlier as a “vehicle.” care about”.

He was towed and detained along Interstate 40 in Santa Rosa, about 177 kilometers east of Albuquerque.

A woman holds up a piece of paper with a picture of a car advertisement "Would like."
Albuquerque Police Deputy Chief of Investigation Cecily Barker, seen to the right, Sunday, holding a flyer with an image of a wanted car linked to murdered Muslim men such as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal via The Associate Press)

In addition to recovering multiple firearms from the suspect’s home, detectives “discovered evidence that the offender knew the victims to some extent and that interpersonal conflicts may have resulted in shooting,” police said in a statement.

The exact motives and nature of the relationships between Syed and the victims – and the victims to each other – remain unclear. But police continue to investigate how they crossed the roads before the shooting.

Police are also investigating whether the Sunni-Shia tensions fueled Syed’s violence or whether he was motivated by other ideas.

“The motives are still being fully explored to understand what they are,” Deputy Police Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock said.

The community is shocked and scared

Police said investigators received advice from the city’s Muslim community directing them to Syed, who had traveled to the US in recent years.

Ambush-style shootings by men have terrified Albuquerque’s Muslim community. Families have been hiding in their homes, and some Pakistani students at the University of New Mexico have left town out of fear.

“It was quite shocking,” Aneela Abad, general secretary at the New Mexico Islamic Center, said of the arrest. “We’re still trying to comprehend.”

She said she believed the suspect had been to her mosque and that he had also been to other mosques.

When asked about possible Sunni-Shia tensions, she said: “We don’t want to create that chaos about Shia and Sunni.” She said the suspect’s “personal program” was “the cause of this whole mess.”

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