Afghan refugee convicted of murder in a case that shocked Albuquerque’s Muslim community

Mar 18, 2024, 10:19 AM | Updated: 10:22 am

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Afghan refugee has been found guilty of first-degree murder in one of three fatal shootings that shook Albuquerque’s Muslim community during the summer of 2022.

Jurors returned the verdict Monday.

Muhammad Syed faces to life in prison in the killing of 41-year-old Aftab Hussein on July 26, 2022. He also will stand trial in the coming months in the other two slayings.

During the trial, prosecutors said Syed was deliberate in his actions. They presented cellphone data that showed his phone was in the area when the shooting occurred and that casings and projectiles recovered from the scene had been fired from a rifle that was found at his home.

Defense attorneys argued that prosecutors had no evidence that Syed was the one who pulled the trigger. They said other people who lived in Syed’s home also had access to his phone, the vehicle and the rifle.

Syed declined to testify in his own defense.

The three ambush-style killings happened over the course of several days, leaving authorities scrambling to determine if race or religion might have been behind the crimes. It was not long before the investigation shifted away from possible hate crimes to what prosecutors described as the “willful and very deliberate” actions of another member of the Muslim community.

Syed, who speaks Pashto and required the help of translators throughout the trial, had settled in the U.S. with his family several years earlier. Prosecutors described him during previous court hearings as having a violent history. His public defenders argued that previous allegations of domestic violence never resulted in convictions.

Syed also is accused of killing Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, a 27-year-old urban planner who was gunned down Aug. 1, 2022, while taking his evening walk, and Naeem Hussain, who was shot four days later as he sat in his vehicle outside a refugee resettlement agency on the city’s south side.

Authorities issued a public plea for help following the third killing. They shared photographs of a vehicle believed to be involved in the crimes, resulting in tips that led to Syed.

Syed denied involvement in the killings after being stopped more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Albuquerque. He told authorities he was on his way to Texas to find a new home for his family, saying he was concerned about the killings in Albuquerque.

The judge prohibited prosecutors from directly introducing as evidence statements Syed made to a detective while being questioned. Defense attorneys argued that Syed’s rights were violated because the detective, through an interpreter, did not adequately inform Syed of his right to a court-appointed attorney.

Police officers and detectives who testified during the trial told jurors about arriving at the scene and finding Hussein lying next to his car with multiple gunshot wounds, from his ear and neck down to his legs, with exit wounds in his feet.

Prosecutors showed photos of Hussein’s bullet-riddled car and said the victim was killed nearly instantly.

United States News

Associated Press

Jurors in Trump’s hush money trial zero in on testimony of key witnesses as deliberations resume

NEW YORK (AP) — The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial is to resume deliberations Thursday after asking to rehear potentially crucial testimony about the alleged hush money scheme at the heart of the history-making case. The 12-person jury deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours on Wednesday without reaching a verdict. Besides asking to […]

21 minutes ago


Associated Press

Alito rejects calls to quit Supreme Court cases on Trump and Jan. 6 because of flag controversies

Justice Samuel Alito is rejecting calls to step aside from Supreme Court cases involving former President Donald Trump and Jan. 6 defendants, saying his wife hoisted the two controversial flags that flew above their homes.

2 hours ago


Associated Press

Nissan warns owners of older vehicles about risk of exploding air bag inflators

Nissan is urging the owners of about 84,000 older vehicles to stop driving them because their Takata air bag inflators have an increased risk of exploding in a crash and hurling dangerous metal fragments.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Seattle police chief dismissed from top job amid discrimination, harassment lawsuits

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s embattled police chief has been dismissed, Mayor Bruce Harrel said Wednesday. Harrell said at a news conference that he met with Police Chief Adrian Diaz on Tuesday and they agreed Diaz should step down. He will work on special assignments for the mayor with the police department, Harrell said. Diaz’s departure […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Disneyland performers’ vote to unionize is certified by federal labor officials

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Character and parade performers at Disneyland in California are officially unionized. Federal labor officials said Wednesday that they’ve certified the results of a three-day election that took place earlier this month in Anaheim. Actors’ Equity Association will represent roughly 1,700 performers and assistants who help bring Disney’s popular characters to life […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan willing to spend millions to restore Flint properties ripped up by pipe replacement

DETROIT (AP) — The state of Michigan said it’s willing to step in and oversee property repairs at 1,900 homes in Flint where water pipes have been inspected or replaced but the grounds remain a mess. The city in March was found in civil contempt by a judge after blowing past deadlines to get the […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Afghan refugee convicted of murder in a case that shocked Albuquerque’s Muslim community