Albuquerque police are investigating the killings of three Muslim men who they say may be related.
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, two Pakistani men who attended the same mosque, were shot dead a week apart, police said. Hussain, who was killed Monday, was the director of planning and land use for the city of Española, about 90 miles north of Albuquerque. Mr. Hussein, killed on July 26, worked at a local cafe.
A third Muslim man was killed shortly before midnight on Friday, according to police. The identity and age of the latest victim have not been released, although police said he was a “young male” and from South Asia.
Authorities said they believed the recent violence could also be linked to the November 2021 killing in Albuquerque of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man from Afghanistan. Ahmadi was killed outside a business he and his brother owned on San Mateo Boulevard, police said.
Authorities did not explain why they thought the killings may be related and did not say whether there were any witnesses to the killings, but said they believed the Muslim community was being targeted.
The Albuquerque Police Department, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, is asking city residents to come forward with any information that may be related to the murders.
“This is something that impacts us all,” Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez said at a news conference Saturday. “Every member of this community has to stand up.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Twitter Saturday that the killings were “deeply outrageous and totally intolerable” and that she would send more state police officers to assist Albuquerque police and the FBI. She also expressed her solidarity with the Muslim community in the state.
“We are with you,” he said.
Officials at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, still shaken by Friday night’s funeral for Hussain and Hussein, said they were shocked to learn of another death the next morning, and that the killings have Muslims in the city fearing for your safety
“We are incredibly sickened by the idea that someone would have so much hate against innocent people,” said Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico. “We are afraid for our families, we are afraid for our children. And we are incredibly confused about why this is happening.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest nonprofit Muslim civil rights group, said Friday it would offer a $10,000 reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the attacks. murders.
“We’ve never really seen anything like this, where there are multiple similar killings that really seem to be connected,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the council’s national director of communications.
Nihad Awad, the council’s national executive director, said in an interview that the the tragedies affected not only the Muslim community but all Americans. “We must stand united against hate and violence, regardless of the race, faith or background of the victims or perpetrators,” he said. “We urge anyone with information about these crimes to contact law enforcement.”