51-year-old Muhammad Syed of Albuquerque Arrested and Charged With Murder of 2 Muslim Men
- It is believed that an interpersonal conflict between the Sunni suspect and the Shia victims could have led to the killings.
Muhammad Syed, 51, of Albuquerque has been arrested as a primary suspect in the killings of four Muslim men, including two Pakistani Americans, in New Mexico’s capital city. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina announced the development in a tweet today (Aug. 9). “We tracked down the vehicle believed to be involved in a recent murder of a Muslim man in Albuquerque,” the tweet said. “The driver was detained and he is our primary suspect for the murders.”
Syed was formally charged in two out of the four homicides — the Aug. 1 killing of Aftab Hussein, 41, and the July 26 death of Afzaal Hussain, 27.
Ahmad Assed, the president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico told The New York Times that authorities had told him the suspect was a Sunni Muslim “who may have had a grudge against Shia Muslims because his daughter married someone from that branch of Islam.” However, police told The Times that “they were not yet sure if a dispute over a marriage was the sole motive, but did not rule out the possibility of an “interpersonal conflict” that may have led to the shootings. Chief Medina added that “it was not yet appropriate to label the killings as either hate crimes or serial murders.”
Meanwhile, a local mosque held a vigil today for the victims. Several hundred people attended, The Times said. “Muslim leaders, as well as Roman Catholic, Jewish, Sikh and Mennonite residents spoke about the losses absorbed by Albuquerque’s Muslim community,” the report added.
Hussain, who worked as the planning and land use director in Española, New Mexico, was fatally shot on Aug. 1 night near the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Former Española Mayor Javier Sanchez, who hired Hussain as the planning director, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that Hussain was “just a really good man.” A week before Hussian’s slaying, another Pakistani American man, Aftab Hussein, 41, who worked at a local cafe, was killed on July 26.
Following those deaths, Albuquerque police had said in a statement that they were re-examining the death of Mohammad Ahmadi, who was shot dead on Nov. 7, 2021, outside of a business he co-owned with his brother.
The most recent shooting death took place on Aug. 6. Naeem Hussain, described in local media as “a Muslim man from South Asia,” was shot dead near the Islamic Center of New Mexico, after attending the funerals of the two Pakistani American men.