Afghans charged with killing Muslims in New Mexico

The ambush killing of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, rocked the community, including hints that led to the arrest of a local Muslim man from Afghanistan who knew the victims. , sparked a flood of information, officials said.

Muhammad Saeed, 51, was arrested Monday after a traffic stop more than 100 miles (160 km) from his home in Albuquerque. He has been charged with murdering two of his victims and has been identified as the prime suspect in two of his other murders, officials announced Tuesday.

The Muslim community is breathing an “astonishing sigh of relief,” said Ahmad Ased, director of the Islamic Center in New Mexico. “My life turned upside down.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if Syed had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

Three more were killed between 26 July and 5 August, following the first killing in November last year.

Police Chief Harold Medina said it was not yet clear whether the deaths should be classified as hate crimes or serial murders, or both.

Syed is from Afghanistan and has lived in the United States for about five years, police said.

A police statement said that “the perpetrators had some knowledge of the victim and that the interpersonal conflict may have led to the shooting,” but investigators were still unable to determine how they crossed paths. I am working to do

When asked specifically if Saeed, a Sunni Muslim, was upset that his daughter married a Shia Muslim, deputy police commander Kyle Hartsock did not directly respond. did. “The motives are still being fully explored to understand what the motives are,” he said.

Ased admitted that “there was a marriage” but cautioned against drawing conclusions about Sayid’s motives for occasionally attending the Center’s mosque.

Police said Said made a statement but did not provide further details.

The killing drew the attention of President Joe Biden, who said such attacks “have no place in America.” They also sent shudders to Muslim communities across the United States. Some questioned their safety and restricted their movement.

“There is no justification for this evil. rice field.

He called the killing a “crazy act.”

The earliest case was the November killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, from Afghanistan.

Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old man from Pakistan, was murdered on Friday night. His death came days after Muhammad Afzar Hussein, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, who were also from Pakistan and were members of the same mosque.

Ehsan Chahalmi, Naeem Hussain’s brother-in-law, said he was “a generous, kind, giving, forgiving and loving soul that has been taken from us forever”.

Said is currently being charged with the murders of Aftab Hussein and Mohammed Afzar Hussein because the bullet casings found at the scene were linked to the gun found in his home, officials said. .

Investigators believe Saeed is the prime suspect in the deaths of Naeem Hussein and Ahmadi, but no charges have yet been filed in those cases.

The announcement that the shootings appeared to be related generated more than 200 hints, including one from the Muslim community that police believe led them to the Sayid family.

Police said they saw him driving away in a Volkswagen Jetta while attempting to search Said’s Albuquerque home on Monday.

Officers followed him to Santa Rosa, about 110 miles (177 km) east of Albuquerque, where they stopped him. Multiple firearms were recovered from his home and his vehicle, police said.

Said’s sons were questioned and released, officials said.

Prosecutors plan to file murder charges in state court and are considering adding a federal lawsuit, officials said.

Shiites make up the second largest branch of Islam after Sunnis.

Anila Abad, general secretary of the Islamic Center, said the two Muslim communities in New Mexico enjoy a warm bond.

“Our Shia community has always been there for us and we Sunnis have always been there for them,” she said.

Muhammad Afzar Hussein worked as a field organizer for Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury’s campaign.

“Muhammad was kind, hopeful and optimistic,” she said, calling him “a man who believes in democracy and social change and can actually build a brighter future for our communities and the world.” A city planner who believed that


Dazio reported from Los Angeles and Pham from Winter Park, Florida. His Associated Press writer in Los Angeles, Robert Jabron, contributed to this report.