Albuquerque murder suspect tries to speak in court; Family reportedly says he was home at time of slayings


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The New Mexico man accused of murdering two Muslim victims in Albuquerque – whom prosecutors have called a “very dangerous person” – made his initial appearance in court amid new details in the case, as investigators continue to probe whether he also gunned down two others, according to officials.

Muhammad Syed, 51, made an initial court appearance in Albuquerque court on Wednesday afternoon, when he sought permission through an interpreter to address the court before his attorney shot him down.

“Can you guys give me the permission to talk for myself?” said Syed, through an interpreter, while wearing a red or dark orange-colored jail-issue jumpsuit, shackles and orange sandals. His attorney for the appearance ultimately asked the court not to take statements from her client. 

Syed did not enter any plea during the appearance. The judge announced Wednesday that Syed’s case was transferred to New Mexico District Court, where a judge would respond to prosecutors’ motion that he be held without bond.

ALBUQUERQUE MURDER SUSPECT SAID HE WAS GOING TO TEXAS TO FIND NEW HOME, REFERENCED ‘SHOOTING OF MUSLIMS’: COPS

Wanted poster for suspect behind the shooting deaths of three Muslim men; Muhammad Syed, suspect arrested 
(Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers; Albuquerque Police Department via AP)

In court documents obtained by The Associated Press, prosecutors called Syed “a very dangerous person.” 

“[T]he only way to protect the community is to hold the defendant in custody,” prosecutors reportedly wrote. An attorney listed as representing Syed did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

Meanwhile, reporters with CNN spoke with Syed’s daughter just hours before the news of his arrest, when she allegedly said her father was at his residence at the times of the shootings. She reportedly was unable to prove the alibi to reporters. 

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The woman also reportedly admitted that her father was unhappy about her marriage, but had grown more understanding. She said her husband had been friends with two of the recent murder victims.  

A police presence was obvious in parts of Albuquerque in the wake of a string of murders involving Muslim victims, August 9, 2022.

A police presence was obvious in parts of Albuquerque in the wake of a string of murders involving Muslim victims, August 9, 2022.
(Ramsay de Give for Fox News Digital)

And federal court documents show Syed’s son, Shaheen Syed, was charged late Tuesday with using a bogus Florida home address last year when he purchased two rifles. 

Two of Muhammad Syed’s sons, including Shaheen, were questioned by police earlier this week in connection with the string of murders. They were later released and have not been charged in connection with any of the killings.  

Police took Muhammad Syed, 51, into custody during a traffic stop in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, just 30 minutes before midnight on Wednesday. Police were preparing to execute a search warrant at his Albuquerque when home they saw him leave in his grey Volkswagen Jetta. They stopped him over 100 miles away, traveling eastbound on Interstate 40, police records show.

Just hours earlier, Syed had allegedly told someone “he was driving to Houston, [Texas] to find a new place for his family to live because the situation in Albuquerque was bad,” according to a criminal complaint provided to Fox News Digital on Wednesday.

An Imam leads a group of men during the Dhuhr afternoon prayer at the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, after the fourth Muslim man was murdered in the city.

An Imam leads a group of men during the Dhuhr afternoon prayer at the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, after the fourth Muslim man was murdered in the city.
(Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal via AP)

“Muhammad then referenced the shooting of Muslims on the news,” the complaint states. “Muhammad took with him: clothing, shoes, and a pistol or handgun.” 

Syed has been charged with two counts of murder, but police have also identified him as the “most likely” suspect in connection with the other slayings. With the help of an interpreter, he “denied having any involvement in the murders in this case,” the criminal complaint alleges

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Police are still working to determine whether the killings will ultimately be classified as hate crimes.

President Biden wrote in a tweet on Sunday that he was “angered and saddened by the horrific killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque.”

“While we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the victims’ families,” he tweeted, “and my Administration stands strongly with the Muslim community. These hateful attacks have no place in America.”

Syed, a Sunni Muslim, moved to the United States five years ago from Afghanistan, police said. He told police he previously fought the Taliban as a member of the special forces in Afghanistan. 

Albuquerque Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Cecily Barker holds a flyer with photos of a car wanted in connection with Muslim men murdered as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham looks on in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. 

Albuquerque Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Cecily Barker holds a flyer with photos of a car wanted in connection with Muslim men murdered as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham looks on in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. 
(Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal via AP)

He has a history of misdemeanor domestic violence arrests, police officials said, though the charges were later dismissed. 

According to The Associated Press, Syed, his son and his wife once pulled Syed’s daughter’s then-boyfriend out of a vehicle and began punching and kicking him. The man reportedly suffered bruises and a bloody nose, and told police the family did not want him to date the woman. 

When asked during a press conference on Tuesday about theories that the alleged murders had to do with Syed’s anger over his daughter’s decision to marry a Shiite Muslim man, Deputy Police Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock told reporters the “motives are still being explored fully to understand what they are.”

“We do have some information about those events taking place, but we’re not really clear if that was the actual motive, or if it was part of a motive, or if there’s just a bigger picture that we’re missing,” Hartstock said.

Altaf Hussain cries over the grave of his brother Aftab Hussein at Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Altaf Hussain cries over the grave of his brother Aftab Hussein at Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
(Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

Police also said detectives “discovered evidence that shows the offender knew the victims to some extent and an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings.”

Four men in total – all Muslim and from South Asia – were ambushed, shot, and killed in Albuquerque since November 2021. 

The most recent murder took place on Friday evening, when Naeem Hussain, from Pakistan, was discovered fatally wounded in the area of Truman Street and Grand Avenue. 

On Aug. 1, the third victim, local city planner Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, was gunned down in the area of Cornell Drive Southeast and Garfield Avenue Southeast, police said.

Muhammad Afzaal Hussain was a planning and land use director for the City of Española. According to the mayor, Tuesday would have been his one-year anniversary in his position.

Muhammad Afzaal Hussain was a planning and land use director for the City of Española. According to the mayor, Tuesday would have been his one-year anniversary in his position.
(The City of Española)

And before then, 41-year-old Aftab Hussein was fatally wounded on July 26, 2022. According to the criminal complaint, Syed “waited behind a bush, north of the driveway where Aftab Hussein would park his vehicle.”

ALBUQUERQUE POLICE REQUEST ASSISTANCE IN IDENTIFYING VEHICLE OF INTEREST IN MURDERS OF FOUR MUSLIM MEN

A ShotSpotter activation showed 13 gunshots were fired, following by additional rounds, in the area of 417 Rhode Island Street, police documents show. There, officers discovered Aftab Hussein “lying next to a silver Hyundai sedan at” nearby, with multiple apparent gunshot wounds. 

Several months before that, on Nov. 7, 2021, 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi was discovered shot and killed in the rear parking lot of a halal café he owned with his brother on San Mateo Boulevard, according to city officials and local affiliate KRQE-TV. 

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - AUGUST 9, 2022: Ariana Halal Super Market and Cafe at 1401 San Mateo Blvd. NE in Albuquerque, NM.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – AUGUST 9, 2022: Ariana Halal Super Market and Cafe at 1401 San Mateo Blvd. NE in Albuquerque, NM.
(Ramsay de Give for Fox News Digital)

According to the criminal complaint, Syed told investigators he “has known Naeem Hussain since 2016 and recognized Aftab Hussein from parties in the community.”  So far, Syed has only been charged for the deaths of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain and Aftab Hussein. 

The investigation remains ongoing. 

ALBUQUERQUE POLICE, FBI INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE LINK BETWEEN FOUR MURDERED MUSLIM MEN

Police were offering a hefty reward for information leading to their suspect, and said they received over 200 tips in connection with the manhunt. 

According to the criminal complaint, police and the FBI received “multiple tips” leading investigators to Syed, including many that said he drove a gray Volkswagen sedan or who “stated that Muhammad was the shooter in the homicides of the Muslim men in Albuquerque.”

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The tip that led to Syed’s arrest came from the Muslim community after pictures of the car were released to the public on Sunday, police said. 



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