Those Muslim killings in New Mexico were not what the media expected

Michael Probst

When the news started leaking out about the murders of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, suspicions quickly spread online and in mainstream media. Police suspected that the murders might be “related” in some fashion and asked for the public’s help in identifying a suspect. This of course prompted people on social media to suspect that these were hate crimes perpetrated against the Muslim community, no doubt by some sort of Christian white supremacist domestic terrorist, or whatever the flavor of the month is currently. Thanks to some solid investigative work by law enforcement, a suspect was soon identified and taken into custody, partly because of his car which was caught on camera near the scenes of two of the slayings. But rather than fitting the profile of the latest hate crime perpetrator, the accused is himself a Muslim who sometimes attended the same mosque as the victims. He apparently had some sort of beef with them. (Associated Press)

The ambush killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, shook the community but inspired a flood of information, including a tip that led to the arrest of a local Muslim man originally from Afghanistan who knew the victims, authorities said.

Muhammad Syed, 51, was arrested on Monday after a traffic stop more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) away from his home in Albuquerque. He was charged with killing two victims and was identified as the prime suspect in the other two slayings, authorities announced Tuesday.

The Muslim community is breathing “an incredible sigh of relief,” said Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico. “Lives have been turned upside down.”

The police are still withholding most of the information they have because of the ongoing investigation. The Police Chief isn’t ruling out any charges yet and said that they are still debating whether the murders should be charged as hate crimes, serial killings, both, or neither. The official police statement said that Syed was at least somewhat familiar with the victims and there may have been “an interpersonal conflict” between them.

One rumor that the cops are not commenting on yet is that Syed, who is a Sunni Muslim, was angry that his daughter had married a Shiite Muslim. It’s still unclear whether all of the victims were also Shiite Muslims. But if that turns out to be the case, it’s just a continuation of an ancient battle that’s been going on between the Muslim sects around the world for centuries.

All of the people involved immigrated here from Pakistan and Afghanistan. For all we know, this could be part of a feud that’s been ongoing for some time now. But what we do know for sure is that this case is about to change from a national sensation to a “local news” story. Originally, President Biden came out and commented on it. He said that these attacks “have no place in America.” He didn’t come right out and say that this was some sort of anti-Muslim, white supremacist activity, but you could tell he was heading in that direction. In reality, people are murdered every day around the country and the White House doesn’t go out of the way to comment on those killings. But if they see a political angle in it they will.

With any luck, this will be the end of the story and, more importantly, the end of the killings in Albuquerque. And hopefully, it will serve as yet another reminder not to jump to too many assumptions when a story like this crops up because you might wind up with egg on your face.

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