Is there a serial killer targeting Muslims in Albuquerque?
Law enforcement in New Mexico’s largest city are starting to think so after the fourth Muslim murder victim since last November turned up. All four of the men were of South Asian descent and all were “ambushed with no warning” and shot according to police in the city.
“We are deeply concerned about the safety of our brothers and sisters in Albuquerque,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, an attorney and the deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told CNN on Sunday. “What is happening there is almost unbelievable. The idea that four Muslim men could be murdered over the course of the year and the killer still be at large is incredibly disturbing. It’s terrifying.”
The most recent victim was Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, was found shot in an Albuquerque neighborhood on Friday after several people reported hearing gunshots to police, according to a news release from the Albuquerque Police Department.
Hussain’s death followed that of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, a 27-year-old who was ambushed and shot on Aug. 1, and Aftab Hussein, 41, who died the same way on July 26. Both those men were from Pakistan, and all three were killed within a small area of southeast Albuquerque.
Last November, Mohammad Ahmadi, who was originally from Afghanistan, was murdered in the city, outside a business he owned with his brother in Albuquerque’s northwest section. No arrests have been made in any case, but local police say that the victims’ backgrounds and the similarities in the killings have them investigating whether they’re linked and were potentially committed by the same assailant.
The FBI has been called in to help with the investigation, and officials from Albuquerque’s mayor up to President Joe Biden have weighed in.
The attacks have drawn condemnation from political leaders, including President Joe Biden, who said he was “angered and saddened” by the attacks.
“While we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the victims’ families, and my Administration stands strongly with the Muslim community,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
Vice President Kamala Harris and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham similarly expressed support for New Mexico’s Muslim community, with the latter describing the attacks as “deeply angering and wholly intolerable.”
“I am incredibly angry about the situation,” the governor said Sunday. “Every New Mexican should stand up and be against this kind of hatred. It has no place in this city and it has no place in our state,” Lujan Grisham said.
The Albuquerque murders come against a backdrop of increasing hate crimes in cities around the country. According to data from the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, attacks motivated by bias rose by 44 percent in 2021.