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Albuquerque Police Detain Suspect in Killings of Muslim Men

ALBUQUERQUE The authorities have detained a guy whom they consider to function as primary suspect in the killings of four Muslim men since last winter, the principle of the Albuquerque Police Department said on Tuesday.

Chief Harold Medina wrote on Twitter that the person had been worries that the authorities said was from the fatal shootings.

The newest killing occurred on Friday, raising alarm in this Southwestern city, that your authorities had sought to shape right into a haven for immigrants. A huge selection of refugees from Afghanistan have settled in the town in the last year, because the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence for the reason that country.

Chief Medina said the authorities would provide additional information down the road Tuesday.

For a number of days, residents have already been reeling at the chance that someone could possibly be targeting Muslims, in a city already upended by way of a harrowing spike in murders.

Among the victims, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, moved from Pakistan to wait the University of New Mexico. He previously become president of its graduate student association prior to going into city planning. Another, Aftab Hussein, 41, worked at an area cafe.

Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old who was simply killed on Friday, had started their own trucking business and be a U.S. citizen just weeks earlier.

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The recent killings were preceded by the fatal shooting in November of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim immigrant from Afghanistan, who was simply attacked beyond your grocery store he owned along with his brother.

You can find recent arrivals that are fearful, and you can find those who are U.S.-born Muslims that are are also on edge, said Michelle Melendez, director of the citys Office of Equity and Inclusion. The victims are from professionals to students to working-class people.

Scrambling to respond, the Albuquerque Police Department began bolstering patrols round the businesses and places of worship that serve as gathering places for the citys Muslims, estimated to number from 5,000 to 10,000 in a city of over half of a million.

In a plea for help from the general public, the police on the weekend released an image of an automobile, regarded as a dark gray Volkswagen sedan, that they believe was found in the killings.

The fatal shootings came amid a string of murders in the town, explaining, perhaps, why it didnt seem unusual for the initial two killings of Muslim men to go relatively unnoticed.

In 2021, 116 people in the town were killed, in accordance with crime statistics from the Albuquerque Police Department, which exclude justified or negligent homicides. It had been the citys deadliest year on record; one individual was killed typically every three days in November 2021, when Mr. Ahmadi was found dead.

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Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, spoke at a news conference about the killings of Muslim men.
Credit…Adria Malcolm for THE BRAND NEW York Times

Things have only become worse this season. By Monday, homicides are on pace to attain 131, surpassing this past year by greater than a dozen. Thats a lot more than double the common amount of homicides from 2010 to 2020, once the city recorded about 53 killings every year.

Simultaneously, Albuquerque, like other cities round the country, has struggled to fill vacancies in its police. Since 2014, the department has been under funds agreement with the Justice Department to boost its practices, reached after accusations of civil rights violations and excessive force.

Police officials have remained largely quiet about their investigation in to the recent killings beyond requesting help in locating the sedan and stating they believe one person completed the acts.

While we wont get into why we believe, theres one strong commonality in every of our victims: their race and religion, Kyle Hartsock, deputy commander of the departments Criminal Investigations Division, said in a statement. We have been taking this very serious, and we wish the publics assist in identifying this cowardly individual.

Prior to going into truck driving, Naeem Hussain, the newest victim, had worked as an incident manager for Lutheran Family Services, helping refugees. It had been in the parking large amount of that organization where Mr. Hussain, a Pashto speaker who had family roots in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was killed during his car.

Ahmad Assed, who was raised in Albuquerque and is currently president of the citys largest mosque, the Islamic Center of New Mexico, described the city as a welcoming melting pot. He hardly ever felt he stuck out as a Muslim, he said, until a female was arrested and accused of attempting to burn down the mosque this past year.

Mr. Assed, who was simply born in Dearborn, Mich., said that despite having increasing xenophobia following the Sept. 11 attacks, the town seemed to continue steadily to treat the Muslim community with respect, no matter faith and nationalities.

Now many Muslims in the town feel just like targets, and fear is even driving some individuals to create plans to leave New Mexico.

Indeed, the killings have jolted an extremely diverse city, where immigration, largely from Mexico along with other Latin American countries, is really a major way to obtain population growth and integral to the citys history. Immigrants from the center East, including Muslims and Christians from Lebanon and Syria, deposit stakes in Albuquerque along with other elements of New Mexico in the late 19th century.

The town gradually saw a fresh wave of Muslim immigrants in recent decades, with many arriving at study at the University of New Mexico. Several Muslim students came together in the mid-1980s to create the Islamic Center of New Mexico, that your three latest victims attended.

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Credit…Adria Malcolm for THE BRAND NEW York Times

Many in the citys Muslim community result from Pakistan and Afghanistan, while some are from countries including India, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Sri Lanka. Through the Trump administration, when concerns grew over bigotry directed against Muslims, officials passed a bill affirming Albuquerques status being an immigrant friendly city. It restricted federal immigration agents from entering city-operated facilities and city employees from collecting immigration status information.

At the very least 300 Afghan refugees have found its way to Albuquerque in the last year, bolstering an evergrowing community reflected today by at the very least eight different places of worship for Muslims. Albuquerque strengthened outreach efforts through translators speaking Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto languages that officials have prioritized in recent days when sharing information regarding the killings.

Although Muslims in the usa faced violence and discrimination after Sept. 11 and during Donald J. Trumps presidential campaign, the apparent serial nature of the attacks in Albuquerque and the stubborn mystery of who’s responsible is uniquely disconcerting, said Sumayyah Waheed, senior policy counsel at Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group.

I cant think about any incident such as this, she said.

Ms. Waheed said it had been concerning that the authorities in Albuquerque had apparently made a possible connection between your attacks only after three Muslim men were killed.

Statistics from the Albuquerque Police Department show that the racial break down of its employees, including officers and civilians, is roughly consistent with that of the town, where about 50 % of the residents are Latino and 38 percent are white. By June 2021, there have been 17 Asian employees out of nearly 1,480 people in the department. It really is unclear just how many officers are Muslim, and a spokesman said the department didn’t collect data on religious affiliation.

Although Naeem Hussains death on Friday heightened the concerns of his community, Ehsan Shahalami, his brother-in-law, said the killing came as a shock.

There is never any indication of him feeling threatened or being scared of anything, Mr. Shahalami said. On the other hand, he was very keen on Albuquerque. He wished to surrender to the area that took him in.

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