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US: Albuquerque police detain primary suspect in killings of four Muslim men

The arrest comes after the police asked the public for help in identifying a car they believed was involved in one of the murders
Pictured left to right are Mohammad Ahmadi, Naeem Hussain, Muhammad A Hussain, and Aftab Hussein. The four Muslim men have all been killed within a year, three in the last two weeks alone (Albuquerque Police Department)

Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, say they have detained the "primary suspect" in the killings of four Muslim men, crimes which have sent ripples of fear throughout Muslim communities across the United States.

The Alburquerque Police Department (APD) made the announcement on Twitter on Tuesday, saying a vehicle believed to be involved in the recent murder was tracked down and the driver was detained.

No other information was immediately available. Police said they will provide an update later on Tuesday.

'Targeted killings' of Muslim residents rock New Mexico community
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The arrest came after the police released a photo of a "vehicle of interest” believed to be a Volkswagen Jetta that could have been used in the killings.

On Monday, US President Joe Biden condemned the killings, saying that he was "angered and saddened" by the attacks.

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

Police have refrained from calling the murders hate crimes, but Arizona Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has characterised them as "targeted killings of Muslim residents".

On Monday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said, "In my opinion, clearly it is hate-driven."

"They are obviously targeting Muslim men, and they are happening right here in our own refugee community," Keller said in a CNN interview.

'Ambushed with no warning'

Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old who arrived in the US from Pakistan in 2016, fleeing persecution as a minority Shia Muslim, was gunned down on Friday.

His death came just days after those of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, who were also from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.

Police believe the killings could be linked to the November 2021 murder of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man from Afghanistan who was ambushed outside a halal supermarket and cafe in Albuquerque.

All four victims were Muslim. More specifically, three of them were Shia. 

The victims were all "ambushed with no warning, fired on and killed", said Kyle Hartsock, deputy commander of Albuquerque Police Department's criminal investigations division.

Muslims in Albuquerque and across the US have been in a state of fear since news of the murders broke. The Albuquerque area is home to around 3,000-5,000 Muslims who make up about 85 percent of the entire state's Muslim population.