Albuquerque police arrested a Muslim from Afghanistan in connection with at least two of the four Muslim men who have murdered in the area in recent months.
Police arrested 51-year-old Muhammad Syed and said that he would be charged with murdering two of the men and was a suspect in the murders of the other two. The first Muslim man was killed in November 2021 and the other three were all killed in the last two weeks.
The New York Times reported that Syed, a Sunni Muslim, might have targeted the men because they were Shiite Muslims and he was reportedly angry that his daughter married a Shiite Muslim.
President Joe Biden issued a statement at the start of the week on the matter, before the arrest was made, that suggested that the murders were hate crimes.
“I am angered and saddened by the horrific killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque,” Biden said in a statement. “While we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the victims’ families, and my Administration stands strongly with the Muslim community.
“These hateful attacks have no place in America,” Biden added.
Syed, an immigrant from Afghanistan who has previously faced domestic violence charges, was taken into custody during a traffic stop more than 100 miles away from Albuquerque. Multiple firearms were recovered in the vehicle and home.
The Associated Press reported that the men who were killed were Naeem Hussain, 25, from Pakistan; Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, from Pakistan; Aftab Hussein, 41, from Pakistan; and Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, from Afghanistan.
“As detectives prepared to search Syed’s home in Southeast Albuquerque on Monday, Syed drove from the residence in the Volkswagon [sic] Jetta that detectives believe was used in at least one of the murders,” the police department said in a statement. “Detectives detained Syed and searched his home and the vehicle. They discovered additional evidence that further tied Syed to the murders.”
“Syed is being charged with two of the homicides – the July 26, 2022 murder of Aftab Hussein, and the Aug. 1, 2022 murder of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain. Detectives connected those homicides using bullet casings found at the scenes. The gun used in those shootings was discovered during the overnight search of his home,” the statement continued. “APD Chief Harold Medina said detectives will continue to work with the District Attorney’s Office on potential charges for the other two homicides – the Aug. 5, 2022, murder of Naeem Hussain, and the Nov. 7, 2021 murder of Mohammad Zaher Ahmadi.”