Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are investigating whether the murders of four Muslim men over the past nine months are related, the latest taking place Friday night.
In a press conference Saturday afternoon with local and federal officials, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina announced that a “young man who is part of the Muslim community has been murdered.”
The victim’s name and the circumstances of the crime were not immediately provided. However, Medina said the murder is believed to be related to the previous three, all of which have been described as ambush shootings.
“As with the previous three murders we mentioned on Thursday, there is reason to believe that this death is related to those shootings,” Medina said.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, 27-year-old Muhammed Afzaal Hussein was shot on August 1, while 41-year-old Aftab Hussein was killed on July 26. Both were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.
These followed the November 2021 murder of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man of South Asian descent. Ahmadi was murdered behind a market and cafe he owned with his brother.
Authorities did not release any suspicious information on Saturday, nor would they confirm whether the killings were considered hate crimes.
“At this point, we don’t know,” Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallego told reporters.
The New Mexico State Police, the FBI and the US Marshals Service are among the various agencies involved in the investigation of the murders. Medina said overtime limits for officers have been lifted to allow the department to increase its patrols.
“I want to assure those members of the Muslim community that we are committed resources, but we also want them to remain vigilant and look out for each other,” Medina said.
The governor, the mayor of Albuquerque and civil rights groups have expressed concern and say violence against community members based on race or religion will not be tolerated.
“The community certainly needs to understand the blatant behavior displayed in all three shootings,” Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said at a news conference Thursday. “If it’s true that we as Muslims were targeted, then they should be very vigilant in protecting themselves and taking precautions. They should be mindful of their surroundings.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also announced on Saturday that it is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
“This tragedy affects not only the Muslim community, but all Americans,” CAIR director Nihad Awad said in a statement on Saturday. “We must unite against hatred and violence, regardless of the race, creed or background of the victims or perpetrators. We urge anyone with information about these crimes to contact the police.”