String Of Killings Targeting Muslims Continues In Albuquerque

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String Of Killings Targeting Muslims Continues In Albuquerque
There has been a string of murders targeting Muslims in Albuquerque, New Mexico, prompting the Muslim community to be on high alert.

The Muslim community in Albuquerque, New Mexico is on high alert, after the murder of a Muslim man Friday night. It's the latest in a string of murders of Muslims that authorities say may be linked. Just last week, two other Muslim men were shot to death.  

"Our community has been devastated, as you can imagine. We've never gone through anything like this before. This is a really a surreal time for us. We're in fear of the safety of our children, our families," said Ahmad Assed, the president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico.  

The Albuquerque Journal identified the latest victim as Naeem Hussain. Islamic leaders say Hussain was killed shortly after he attended funeral services for the other two victims: Afzaal Hussain and Aftab Hussein. Nine months ago, another Muslim man, Mohammad Ahmadi, was murdered.  

"We're very concerned that these are obviously tied together, they're obviously targeting Muslim men and happening right here in our own refugee community, historically which has been a very safe and welcoming and inclusive place for decades," said Albuquerque Mayor Timothy Keller. 

The Islamic Center of New Mexico estimates about 3,000 to 5,000 Muslims live in or around Albuquerque.   

Nationally, FBI statistics released in October found about 1,000 anti-Islamic hate crimes were reported in U.S. the previous five years. 

Pew Research indicates that in the first few months of the Trump administration, 48% of Muslims polled said they experienced some form of discrimination. That was an 8% increase from 2007. 

"Folks in our community, the Muslim community especially, are afraid to even leave their house, especially at night. They're afraid to pray, they are afraid to start school," Keller said.  

The Albuquerque police have stepped up patrolling in the Muslim community and have partnered with the FBI in this investigation. Local authorities are also asking the public to help. 

Cecily Barker is a deputy chief of the Albuquerque Police Department.   

"We have photos of a Volkswagen Jetta or Passat. What we really want you to focus on is the first picture. The second picture does have notations of possible damage to the vehicle. However, if you see a dark colored four-door sedan, a Volkswagen Passat or Jetta, we encourage you to call the police with that information," Barker said.   

The shootings alarmed both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who tweeted support for the Muslim community. 

For Albuquerque's mayor, it's about doing more. 

"We have marshaled every resource to have now police presence at all our mosques during prayer time. We're working with our different police departments with respect to safety at schools and specific sort of buddy system related programs at school for kids. We're even delivering meals for families that are afraid to leave their house, even to get food," Keller said. 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement, "the lives of Albuquerque Muslims are in danger" the organization urged all Muslims in the U.S. to "exercise vigilance and enhance their security."