NEW MEXICO (Reuters): A New Mexico grand jury on Monday charged Muhammad Syed, an Afghan refugee, with the murder of a third Muslim man in ambush shootings that have shaken the immigrant community in the state’s largest city.
Cell phone evidence allowed prosecutors to link Syed, 51, to the August 5 murder of truck business owner Naeem Hussain in Albuquerque, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office said in a statement.
Police previously charged Syed with the killings of cafe employee Aftab Hussein on July 26 and urban planning director Muhammad Afzaal Hussain on August 1 in the same area of southeast Albuquerque.
Afghan man arrested for killings that shook New Mexico’s Muslims
“Additional evidence deriving from cell phones came to light enabling us to present the homicide of Naeem Hussain to the Grand Jury,” the statement said.
The grand jury indictment charged Syed with three counts of first-degree murder and four counts of tampering with evidence for the killings of the immigrants of Pakistani and Afghan descent.
Thomas Clark, an attorney for Syed, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Police have said Syed is the primary suspect in a fourth murder, that of the grocery store and cafe owner Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, in 2021.
District Attorney Raul Torrez’s office said it was working with police to investigate Syed’s possible involvement with Ahmadi’s homicide.
National Muslim advocacy groups have said the murders may have been driven by inter-Muslim sectarian hate. However, people who knew both the victims and Syed said the killings were primarily connected to personal feuds or revenge.
Grand juries operate in secrecy and are often used by prosecutors to allow witnesses to speak freely without fear of retaliation.
Federal prosecutors have linked Syed’s 21-year-old son to the August 5 murder of Hussain.
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