Car wanted in four murders of Muslims in New Mexico


Albuquerque police are searching for a silver Volkswagen sedan they suspect was used in the fatal shooting of four Muslim men in the past year, spreading terror in the close-knit Muslim community in the city.

Three of the killings have taken place in the past two weeks, with the most recent taking place on the night of August 5. The police believe the the shootings could be linked to an earlier homicide in November 2021. The four victims were men of South Asian descent.

Police released a photo of a car they say was ‘used as a means of transportation’ in all four incidents and asked the public for help, noting that the vehicle had tinted windows and appeared to be a Jetta.

Authorities have not determined the motive for the killings. At least three of the shootings followed a pattern in which the victims were “ambushed without warning, shot and killed”, a senior police official said, according to the Associated Press.

The FBI office in Albuquerque is assisting city police with the investigation, said office spokesman Frank Fisher.

The most recent victim, Naeem Hussain, was a truck driver who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan and took the oath of citizenship on July 8, said Ehsan Shahalami, his brother-in-law.

Hussain had attended the funerals of two of the first victims, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, at the Islamic Center of New Mexico. The three men share a common surname but are not related. All regularly attended prayers at the center, said Tahir Gauba, its director of public affairs.

Gauba said the series of murders was “horrific” for the community of around 5,000 Muslims in Albuquerque, a city of more than 560,000 people. “I’ve been in the United States since 1995,” Gauba said. “I lived through 9/11. I went through the Trump era. I have never felt so helpless and in fear.

Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, who was shot and killed on August 1, worked on the campaign team of Rep. Melanie Ann Stansbury (DN.M.), the MP told a news conference on Sunday.

She described him as “a kind, funny, bright and amazing young man from Pakistan who came to the United States to pursue his career and his life’s dream of studying at the University of New Mexico.”

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) promised on Sunday that the perpetrator would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but authorities needed community support to identify the vehicle of interest.

“We will bring this person or these people to justice,” she told a press conference. “We will bring justice to the families who have lost everything.”

President Biden said Sunday he was “irritated and saddened by the horrific killings” in Albuquerque.

“Pending a full investigation, my prayers go out to the families of the victims and my administration stands firmly with the Muslim community,” he said. on Twitter. “These hateful attacks have no place in America.”

“The lives of Muslims in Albuquerque are in danger,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy national director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Anyone responsible for this horrific hate shooting must be identified and arrested – now.”

CAIR, which defends the civil rights of Muslims in the United States, said in a statement On Saturday he was offering $10,000 for information “leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.” The organization called on the Biden administration to “play a direct role” in the matter.

Praveena Somasundaram contributed to this report.

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