Authorities on Monday identified the fourth victim in a series of murders of Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as…
Authorities Monday identified the fourth victim in a series of murders of Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the deaths sparked a wave of fear throughout the Muslim community across the country.
Law enforcement officers are also seeking help finding a vehicle believed to be linked to the murders in New Mexico’s largest city, where the common elements were the victims’ race and religion, officials said.
Naeem Hussain was killed Friday night and three other Muslim men have been killed in an ambush over the past nine months. Police are trying to determine if the murders are related.
The murders have spread fear beyond New Mexico.
“The fact that the suspect is still at large is terrifying,” Debbie Almontaser, a leader of the New York Muslim community, wrote on Twitter. “Who’s next?!”
In a phone interview, Almontaser said a friend who lives in Michigan and wears the hijab shared with her how upset she was over the weekend. “She says, ‘This is so terrifying. I’m so scared. I’m traveling alone,'” Almontaser said.
Hussain, 25, was a Muslim from Pakistan. His deaths followed those of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, who were killed in the past week. Both were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.
The earliest case concerns the November murder of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man from Afghanistan.
Police said the same vehicle is suspected of use in all four murders – a dark gray or silver four-door Volkswagen that appears to be a Jetta with dark-tinted windows. Authorities have released photos in the hopes that people can help identify the car.
“We will bring this person or persons to justice,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Sunday.
Investigators did not say where the footage was taken or what made them suspect the car was involved in the murders.
“We have a very, very strong bond,” Albuquerque mayor Tim Keller said Sunday. “We have an interesting vehicle … We need to find this vehicle.”
President Joe Biden said he was “angered and saddened” by the killings and that his administration “stands strongly with the Muslim community”.
“These hateful attacks have no place in America,” Biden said in a tweet on Sunday.
The conversation about security also dominates WhatsApp groups and email groups that Almontaser is in.
“What we have seen happening in New Mexico is very horrifying to us as a Muslim minority community in the United States that has endured so much resistance and discrimination” since the 9/11 attacks, she said. “It’s scary. It is scary.”
Last year, a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted prior to the 20th anniversary of 9/11 found that 53% of Americans had an unfavorable view of Islam at the time, compared with 42% who had a favorable view of Islam. had views. This was in stark contrast to Americans’ views on Christianity and Judaism, which most respondents expressed positively.
Albuquerque authorities say they cannot determine whether the recent shootings were hate crimes until they identify a suspect and motive. Police did not call back Monday for comment.
Hussain was found dead after police received a call of a shooting. Authorities declined to say whether the murder was carried out in the same manner as the other deaths.
Police last week confirmed that local detectives and federal law enforcement officers were looking for possible links between the murders.
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain had worked as a field organizer for a local congressman’s campaign.
Rep. Melanie Stansbury released a statement praising him as “one of the nicest and hardest working people” she’s ever known. She said the urban planner was “committed to making our public spaces work for everyone and cleaning up the pollution of the past.”
As director of land use for the city of Española — more than 85 miles (137 kilometers) north of Albuquerque — Muhammad Afzaal Hussain worked to improve conditions and inclusivity for underprivileged minorities, according to the mayor’s office.
“Mohammed was gentle and kind and had a quick smile,” Española Mayor John Ramon Vigil said in a press release. City officials “have lost a family member and we have all lost a brilliant civil servant who wanted to serve and improve his community.”
Dazio reported from Los Angeles and Fam from Winter Park, Florida. Associated Press news researchers Rhonda Shafner and Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.
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