Police Arrest Suspect in Killings of Muslim Men in Albuquerque

Police near where Naeem Hussain was murdered on Friday night, outside Lutheran Family Services, in Albuquerque. Photo: Adria Malcolm/The New York Times

On Tuesday, Albuquerque police announced that they had arrested a suspect in the recent murders of three South Asian Muslim men, which may be connected to another killing last year. The brutal crimes have left the city’s Muslim community in fear over the past two weeks.

The department had recently announced that it had identified a vehicle of interest.

“We tracked down the vehicle believed to be involved in a recent murder of a Muslim man in Albuquerque. The driver was detained and he is our primary suspect for the murders,” Albuquerque police chief Harold Medina said on Twitter, adding that the department would provide additional information to the media later in the day.

The president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, which several of the victims attended, told the New York Times that the suspect is a Sunni Muslim and potentially targeted the men due to anger from his daughter marrying a Shiite Muslim, citing information given to him from law enforcement. Officials have yet to confirm these details.

Over the past few weeks, three Muslim immigrants from Pakistan — Naeem Hussain, Aftab Hussein, and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain — have been shot and killed by an unknown assailant, or assailants, in what police describe as ambush-style attacks. On Friday, Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old business owner who came to the U.S. in 2016 and became a citizen last month, was found dead in the parking lot of an organization that provides services to asylum-seekers. Hours before, he had attended a funeral for the two other recent victims.

On July 26, 41-year-old Hussein was found dead on the sidewalk near his home. And on August 1, 27-year-old Muhammad Afzaal Hussain was shot and killed outside his apartment building. He worked in the government of the town of Española and was considered a rising star on the political scene.

Police have said his murder was connected to Hussein’s. They’re now investigating whether all three killings are related to the shooting death of a fourth man, Mohammad Ahmadi, in November 2021. Ahmadi, who came to the U.S. from Afghanistan in the early 1980s, was shot in the head, seemingly randomly, outside a market his brother runs.

The FBI is assisting local authorities with the probe, and the local branch of Crime Stoppers is offering $20,000 for leads. After Naeem Hussain’s killing on Friday, the story leaped to the national stage, with President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris weighing in.

“I am incredibly angry about the situation,” New Mexico’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, said on Sunday. “Every New Mexican should stand up and be against this kind of hatred. It has no place in this city, and it has no place in our state.”

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Police Arrest Suspect in Killings of Muslim Men