Police have identified the man arrested in two of a string of killings of Muslim men in the past year — another Muslim.
Muhammad Syed, 51, has reportedly been charged with murder in the deaths of two Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
According to local Muslim leaders cited in multiple news outlets, the killings are believed to be motivated by inter-Islam sectarian conflict.
Ahmad Assed, the president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, told The New York Times that authorities had informed him that the suspect was a Sunni, and was enraged over his daughter marrying a Shiite.
“The offender knew the victims to some extent, and an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings,” police wrote in a press release cited by the Daily Beast.
Details remained sparse though, and Mr. Assed told The Times at least one of the victims — three had attended his mosque — was Sunni.
Four Muslim men had been killed in Albuquerque since November, the earliest being 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi, from Afghanistan. Naeem Hussain, 25, was killed Friday night, just days after ambush shootings of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41. All three men were from Pakistan.
According to police, Mr. Syed will definitely be charged with murder in the deaths of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain and Aftab Hussein. They are still investigating the other two killings.
The slayings drew the attention of President Biden, who said such attacks “have no place in America” and prompted calls for federal hate-crime investigations and charges of Islamophobia.
“We won’t hear about this crime again,” predicted one Twitter user when the news of the suspect’s name broke.
Muslim groups quickly denied there is any broader concern.
“Like Protestants and Catholics, the Sunni and Shia communities in this country live near each other, work with each other and marry each other in peace,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “There is no significant history of violence at all in the U.S. between Shias and Sunnis.”