New Mexico, August 11 (SO News/Agency) A man was arrested on the charge of murdering four Muslim men in the American state of New Mexico on Tuesday, August 9. According to police officials, the 51-year-old suspect belongs to Afghanistan.
The police team first traced the vehicle believed to have been used in the ambush killings. The 51-year-old driver of the vehicle, who hails from Afghanistan, was later arrested.
The suspect has so far been formally charged with two of the murders, while he has been named as the prime suspect in two other murders. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said, “The driver has been taken into custody and is our primary suspect in the murder.”
The first of the four murders in the area was last November when a man was shot dead, while the other three were killed in the past two weeks and all the victims were Pakistani or Afghan Muslims.
Albuquerque has a total population of 565,000, with approximately 5,000 Muslim households. The wave of serial killings of Muslim youths has been causing panic in the city’s Muslim community for months.
One of those killed so far was 27-year-old Mohammad Afzal Hussain, who was also the city’s planning director. His brother Imtiaz Hussain says that the news of the arrest has restored confidence in many people in his community.
“My children asked me if we can sit in our balcony now,” he said. And I said, yes. He also said, can we go out and play now? And I said, yes.”
Sixty-one-year-old Muhammad Ahmadi and 41-year-old Aftab Hussain were also among the victims. The fourth person killed was 25-year-old Naeem Hussain, a truck driver who had just received US citizenship on July 8.
Naeem Hussain was shot dead last Friday hours after attending the funeral of two former victims. Three of the victims attended religious services at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, Albuquerque’s oldest and largest mosque.
Anilabad, the mosque’s general secretary, said the massacre had caused many Muslims in the area to avoid going out unless it was “absolutely necessary”. Even many Pakistani students studying at the university have left the city. “We are very shocked and still trying to explain and understand what happened, how and why,” he said.
Local police chief Harold Medina said it was not yet clear whether the killings should be classified as hate crimes or serial killings, or both.
The police said that the investigators got a clue from the city’s Muslim community, which pointed to the arrested man, Syed, who hails from Afghanistan. He has been living in the US for almost five years.
Journalists asked the police department if Syed, a Sunni Muslim, was upset that his daughter had married a Shia Muslim. So the police did not answer it directly.
A police officer said that “triggers are still being sought to fully explore the motive for the murder, to explain what could have led to it.”