Biden condemns Muslim killings: ‘Hateful attacks have no place in America’

Show caption Altaf Hussain cries over the grave of his brother Aftab at Fairview memorial park in Albuquerque. Photograph: Chancey Bush/AP New Mexico Biden condemns Muslim killings: ‘Hateful attacks have no place in America’ Police say race and religion likely a factor in deaths of three men 10 days apart and further death late last year in Albuquerque Ramon Antonio Vargas Mon 8 Aug 2022 14.56 BST Share on Facebook

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Joe Biden has condemned the possibly related killings of four Muslim men in New Mexico’s largest city, saying “these hateful attacks have no place in America”.

“I am angered and saddened,” the president also said in a tweet Sunday. “While we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the victims’ families, and my administration stands strongly with the Muslim community.”

Biden’s remarks further thrust into the national spotlight the shooting deaths of three Muslim men of South Asian descent 10 days apart in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A fourth man with a similar background was killed late last year.

Law enforcement officials have acknowledged the strong possibility that the men’s race and religion made them targets. And on Sunday police – scrambling to make an arrest in any of the cases – said they were searching for a particular car that they suspected was linked: a dark gray or silver four-door Volkswagen, possibly a Jetta, with tinted windows.

“We have got to find this vehicle,” the Albuquerque mayor, Tim Keller, told reporters.

The murders in question date back to November 2021, when 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi died in a shooting.

I am angered and saddened by the horrific killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque. 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. — President Biden (@POTUS) August 7, 2022

Later, Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, who were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque, were fatally shot on 26 July and 1 August, respectively.

Then, hours after going to the burials of both Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Hussain, 25-year-old Nayeem Hossain died after being shot late Friday.

The four slayings have rattled Albuquerque’s Muslim community, with many of its members trying to stay in as much as possible while the murders are unsolved.

Notably, officials with the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque said they were asking students – especially those from Pakistan living around campus – to be on alert.

“We are faith leaders – we ask people to be strong,” the center’s imam, Dr Mahmoud Eldenawi, told the Guardian on Saturday. “But we are human – we do feel concerned about our [wives] and children.”

Eldenawi described an atmosphere where Albuquerque’s Muslims were “rushing to finish everything during the daytime” and staying home in the evening because “everybody thinks they’re a target”.

The first step toward determining whether the deaths of Ahmadi, Hussein, Hossain and Hussain constitute hate crimes is jailing a suspect, according to authorities.

In New Mexico, hate crimes targeting race and religion have the highest number of victims among other kinds of hate crimes reported in the state.

The state’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, said she was sending a detachment of state police to reinforce local authorities as well as FBI agents working “to bring the killer or killers to justice”.

“They will be found,” Grisham said.