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Albuquerque man accused of murdering two Muslim men

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Associated Press

Associated Press

Stefanie Dazio and Mariam Pham

Altaf Hussain cries over the grave of his brother, Aftab Hussein, at Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
Altaf Hussain cries Grave of his brother Aftab Hussein at Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Friday, August 5, 2022. Photo by Chauncey Bush /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

51-year-old man Tuesday, Albuquerque, New Mexico accused of murdering two Muslim men in the city, and authorities said he was suspected of involvement in the murders of two others. It caused fear in Muslim communities across the country.

Authorities announced the arrest the day after the man was taken into custody.

Police Chief Harold Medina announced on Twitter that officials had tracked down a vehicle believed to be involved in one of New Mexico's largest city killings.

"The driver is in custody and is the prime suspect in the murder," the tweet said.

No other information was immediately available. Police were due to provide an update late Tuesday.

The killing drew the attention of President Joe Biden, who said such attacks "have no place in America."

When told about the announcement, Muhammad Imtiaz Hussein, brother of one of the victims, Muhammad Afzal Hussein, said: , said he was relieved but needed to know more about the suspects and motives.

"This gives us hope that the truth will come out," he said. "We need to know why."

Naeem Hussain was killed Friday night, while his three other men died in an ambush.

Hussein, 25, was from Pakistan. 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.

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

Authorities on Monday called for help in searching for a vehicle believed to be the one found on Tuesday.

A common factor in the deaths was the victims' race and religion, officials said, and police were trying to determine if the deaths were related.


New York Muslim community leader Debbie Almontazar said a hijab-wearing female friend who lives in Michigan told her how upset she was over the weekend. "She said, 'This is so scary. I'm so scared. I travel alone,'" Almontaser said.

Anila Abad, general secretary of the Islamic Center in New Mexico, described a community shaken by the killing, whose grief was exacerbated by the confusion and terror that followed.

" We are completely shocked and trying to understand what happened, how and why," she said.

Some people refrain from going out unless it is "absolutely necessary," and some Muslim college students wonder if it is safe to stay in cities, she said. said the center has also stepped up security.

Police initially said they suspected the same vehicle had been used in all four murders. His four-door Volkswagen in dark gray or silver, with dark windows, looked like a Jetta or Passat. But the police chief's tweet only mentioned the vehicle's connection to her one murder.

Authorities released the photos in hopes of helping people identify the vehicle, and offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest.

Investigation Officials did not say where the images were taken or what led them to suspect that the car was involved in the murder. Police spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said in an email Monday that the agency had received information about the vehicle but did not provide further details.

Gallegos said he could not comment on whether police knew the type of guns used in the shootings or the number of suspects involved in the violence.

According to his FBI data cited by Brian Levin, director of the Center for Hate and Extremism Studies, anti-Muslims recorded in Albuquerque in the last five years. Hate crimes are rare. Professor of Criminal Justice at California State University, San Bernardino.

From 2017 to 2020, he had one hate crime against Muslims in his year. The most recent high was in 2016, when Albuquerque police recorded six of a total of 25 hate crimes for him.

This marks his lowest figure in this decade in 2020, and in 2021 he will see a 45% increase in 12 cities and states with a national trend. Almost in agreement, Levin said.

Albuquerque officials say they cannot determine whether a killing is a hate crime until they identify a suspect and motive.

Victims It was not clear whether the attacker knew the attacker.

A recent victim was found dead after police received a gunshot call. Authorities have refused to disclose whether the killings were carried out in a manner similar to other deaths.

Muhammad Afzaal Hussain worked as his organizer on the field of the local councilor's campaign. rice field.

Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury released a statement, praising him as "one of the kindest, hardworking people ever." She said city planners are "dedicated to making sure our public spaces work for everyone and cleaning up legacy pollution."

North of Albuquerque As land use director for the city of Espanola, which is more than 85 miles (137 km) away, Hussein has worked to improve the environment and inclusion of disadvantaged minorities, the mayor's office said.

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