February 22, 2024

Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are working to determine whether the murders of four Muslim men over the past nine months, the latest of which occurred Friday night, are connected.

At a press conference Saturday afternoon with local and federal officials, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina revealed that a “young man who belongs to the Muslim community has been murdered.”

The name of the victim and the circumstances of the crime were not immediately released. But Medina said the killing is believed to be connected to the previous three, which have been described as ambush-style shootings.

“As with the three previous murders we reported on Thursday, there is reason to believe this death is related to these shootings,” Medina said.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, 27-year-old Muhammed Afzaal Hussain was shot and killed on August 1st, while 41-year-old Aftab Hussein was killed on July 26th. Both were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.

These followed the November 2021 killing of 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi, a Muslim of South Asian descent. Ahmadi was killed behind a market and cafe he owned with his brother.

Authorities on Saturday did not release any suspect information or confirm whether the killings were believed to be hate crimes.

“At this point, we don’t know,” Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallego told reporters.

New Mexico State Police, the FBI and the US Marshals Service are among several agencies involved in the investigation into the killings. Medina said overtime caps for officers have been lifted to allow the department to increase its patrols.

“I would like to reassure members of the Muslim community that we have dedicated resources, but we would also like them to remain vigilant, to look out for each other,” Medina said.

Albuquerque’s governor, mayor and civil rights groups have raised concerns, saying violence against community members based on race or religion will not be tolerated.

“The community certainly needs to understand the egregious behavior displayed in all three shootings,” Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said at a news conference Thursday. “If it is true that we have been targeted as Muslims, then they need to be very careful about protecting themselves and taking precautions. They need to be aware of their surroundings.”

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