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Afghan man detained for killings that shook New Mexico’s Muslims

A Muslim immigrant from Afghanistan was detained as the main suspect in the serial killing of four Muslim men that shook Muslims in the largest city in New Mexico, said police on Tuesday.

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After days of enhanced security around mosques in the Albuquerque area, seeking to allay the fears of an anti-Muslim hate shooter, police said on Tuesday they had arrested 51-year-old Muhammad Syed, one of the city’s Muslim immigrants.

The authorities stated that the murders may have been rooted in a personal grudge, perhaps with intra-Muslim sectarian connotations.

All four victims were Afghanis and Pakistanis. One was killed in November, and the other three in the past couple of weeks.

A search of the suspect’s house in Albuquerque found “evidence that the offender knew the victims to a certain extent and interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings,” the police said in a statement announcing the arrest.

According to Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock of the Albuquerque Police Department during a press conference, investigators are still gathering the reasons for the murders of the four men.

In response to questions from reporters, Hartsock said the suspect’s sectarian animosity toward his fellow Muslim victims could have played a role in the violence. But we don’t really know whether this was the real reason, or if it was part of a motive, or if we’re just missing an overview,” he said.

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Syed has a record of criminal offenses in the United States, including a case of family violence, in the last three or four years, Hartsock said.

Police credited dozens of public tips to help investigators locate a car that detectives thought was used in at least one of the murders and ultimately hunt down the man they called their “prime suspect” in the four murders.

Syed was officially charged with two murders: Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, killed on 26 July and 1 August respectively, Albuquerque police chief Harold Medina held the briefing.

The latest victim, 25-year-old truck driver Nayeem Hussain, who became an American citizen on July 8, was killed on Friday hours after attending the funeral of the two men who died in July and August, both of Pakistani origin.

The last three casualties all went to the Islamic Centre of New Mexico, the largest mosque in Albuquerque. All of them were shot down near Central Avenue in southeast Albuquerque.

The first known casualty, 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi, from Afghanistan, was killed on November 7, 2021, while smoking a cigarette in front of a grocery store and a café that he ran with his brother in the southeast part of the city.

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