By Rebekah Riess, CNN
Albuquerque police and the FBI are investigating three recent murders of Muslim men for “possible ties to the same offender,” according to Albuquerque police.
Two members of the same mosque, Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, both from Pakistan, were murdered in southeast Albuquerque in the past week, police said in a news release. Detectives are now trying to determine whether any connections exist between those killings and the November 2021 murder of another Muslim man, Mohammad Ahmadi, who was of South Asian descent.
“While we are still sifting through all the evidence to look for more connections, it is deeply troubling that these three men were Muslim and of similar descent,” said Kyle Hartsock, deputy commander of the police department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
Hartsock asked for the public’s help in identifying “the shooter or shooters,” saying the victims in all three cases were “ambushed with no warning, fired on and killed.”
Investigators met with leaders of the Islamic Center of New Mexico on Thursday morning.
“I want to reassure our friends in the Muslim community that we are making these crimes a top priority for the department,” APD Chief Harold Medina said.
CNN has reached out to the Islamic Center of New Mexico for comment.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda also pledged the FBI’s help in locating the “person or persons” responsible.
“We offer our condolences to the relatives of the victims and we will not rest until justice is done,” he said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Friday announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the deaths of the three men, according to a release from CAIR.
“If a bias-motive is determined, state and federal authorities should apply appropriate hate crime charges,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.
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