State Watch

Albuquerque police identify man arrested in connection with shootings of Muslim men

Altaf Hussain cries over the grave of his brother Aftab Hussein at Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Albuquerque police said the suspect they arrested on Monday night in connection to at least two of the fatal shootings of four Muslim men is an Afghan man who officers were led to after receiving tips from the community.

Authorities said in a press conference that they are charging Muhammad Syed, 51, with the July 26 murder of Aftab Hussein and the Aug. 1 killing of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain.

Police believe Syed may be connected to the fatal shootings of two other men: Mohammad Ahmadi, killed on Nov. 7, 2021; and a young Muslim man who was killed last Friday night.

Still, police stressed they are still investigating the incident and have not connected Syed to the other murders.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said the arrest shows “law enforcement and all partners at their best,” while she thanked the public for providing tips.

Grisham said state authorities would bring justice for the community.

“We are working on the justice side of that equation, which is absolutely critical,” the governor said at the press conference. “We will bring justice, the full force of the law, and accountability will be made.”

The killings of four Muslim men over a nine-month period terrified the community of Albuquerque and led to many members of the community avoiding late nights out or reconsidering where they traveled.

Last week, after the shooting of a young Muslim man on Friday, police offered a $20,000 reward for information that led to the arrest of the suspect or suspects connected to the slayings.

Albuquerque Police Department Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock on Tuesday said “hundreds” of tips came in from residents, leading police to Syed’s local residence.

Hartsock said officers watched Syed file into the car they were searching for — a Volkswagen Jetta — before they stopped the vehicle.

Hartsock said a search warrant executed on Syed’s home found multiple firearms, with one firearm found inside the home and another discovered inside the car. Both are linked to the shootings of Hussein and Hussain, he said.

Local and state police have teamed up with federal agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the investigation.

The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a press release that the suspect may have been targeting Shia Muslims.

CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said he was “disturbed” by the indications of a potential hate crime.

“If this is true, it is completely unacceptable, and we encourage law enforcement to file any appropriate hate crime charges against the suspect,” Awad said. “Acts of hateful, sectarian violence against followers of the Shia tradition and any other group have no place in our communities, our country or anywhere else.”

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller (D) on Tuesday said local authorities plan to work more closely with community members in the future, saying this was a reminder of how important forging close ties and bonds are.

“We always have said we would be there for each other when we needed it,” Keller said. “Fortunately, we have demonstrated this once again. Truly, what we experienced on the law enforcement and the support front, was the one Albuqerque spirit.”

Tags Albaquerque Police Department Albuquerque ATF CAIR FBI Michelle Grisham Michelle Lujan Grisham Muhammed Syed Muslim community New Mexico shootings Tim Keller
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