Police in New Mexico, United States (US), have arrested a Muslim Afghan immigrant named Muhammad Syed, 51, in connection with the deaths of Muslim men in Albuquerque city. The police have charged Syed with two murders.
A total of four murders took place. All victims were of Afghan or Pakistani descent. One was killed in November, and the other three in the last two weeks.
It was speculated that Shia and Sunni tensions may have led to Syed’s actions. However, the police said that while they are aware of the sectarian narrative, the motive is still being “explored” by investigators.
Albuquerque police deputy commander Kyle Hartsock stated: “We have heard those things, but we’re not sure if that’s the only motivation”, reports CNN.
In a statement, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) said, “As their detectives prepared to search Syed’s home in Southeast Albuquerque on Monday, he drove from the residence in the Volkswagen Jetta that detectives believe was used in at least one of the murders.”
“Detectives discovered evidence that showed the suspect knew the victims to some extent and an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings,” the police statement added.
The APD said Syed was being charged with two of the homicides, the July 26 murder of Aftab Hussein and the August 1 murder of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain.
“Detectives connected those homicides using bullet casings found at the scenes. The gun used in these shootings was discovered during the overnight search of [Syed’s] home,” the police said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement about the arrest in which the organisation “strongly condemned the anti-Shia hatred that may have motivated the killings”.
‘Strongly stand with Muslim community’: US President Biden condemns killing of Muslim men in New Mexico
Earlier, US President Joe Biden condemned the killing of four Muslims — two of them Pakistanis, in Albuquerque, a city in the southern state of New Mexico. The local authorities are describing the killings as targeted attacks.
“I am angered and saddened by the horrific killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque. While we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the victims’ families, and my administration stands strongly with the Muslim community,” tweeted US President Biden.
“These hateful attacks have no place in America,” he added.
Four Muslim men killed in New Mexico
The latest victim was gunned down on Friday night. The police said he was in his mid-20s, Muslim, and a native from South Asia.
The local Islamic leaders said that the horrific incident occurred shortly after he had attended funeral services for two others slain during the past couple of weeks.
Before this killing, two of the previous victims were Muslim and Pakistani men. A 27-year-old’s body was found on August 1 and a 41-year-old’s body was discovered on July 26.
According to Tahir Gauba, spokesperson for the Islamic Centre of New Mexico, the three latest victims belonged to the same mosque.
Detectives are now investigating whether these murders are connected to the death of a Muslim man from Afghanistan who was killed on November 7, 2021.
Mayor Tim Keller said state authorities were working to provide an “extra police presence at mosques during times of prayer”.
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