Islamophobic killer targets 4 men killed in Albuquerque, Houston police step up patrol in Muslim community, officials say

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — The Houston Police Department said they are stepping up patrols at mosques across the city and are meeting with Muslim community leaders later this week, after a fourth Muslim man was killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the past nine months. Law enforcement is now searching for the vehicle of a suspect they believe may be involved in these killings.

Officials said the common factors in these cases are the victims’ race and religion, but they can’t confirm whether they constitute hate crimes until a suspect or motive has been identified. Still, the senseless killings have sent shockwaves through Muslim communities across the country amid fears that another Islamophobic attack could take place in their area.

According to ABC News and the Associated Press, authorities said three of the killings happened in the past week. The Victims – Naeem Hussain, 25; Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27; and Aftab Hussein, 41, were all from Pakistan and were members of the same mosque. Mohammed Ahmadi, 62, from Afghanistan, was killed in November. Muslim leaders in Albuquerque said Ahmadi was well known in the community.

Albuquerque Police said the same vehicle is suspected of being involved in all four murders. It is described as a dark gray or silver four-door Volkswagen that looks like a Jetta or Passat with dark tinted windows. They released photos in hopes that someone from the public could help identify the car and offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Here in Houston, William White of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said they fast Monday in honor of Ashura, a day of mourning and reflection on their religion. During this solemn time, they also remember the four Muslim men who were killed and what they can do to protect their own communities.

“To the Muslim community I say: be vigilant. Please do not travel alone, especially at night. If you are traveling to a place that is very popular for the Muslim communities, such as B. a halal meat market or a mosque, be sure to go with someone. Make sure people know where you are,” White said.

Imam Qasim ibn Ali Khan, who leads prayer services at the Masjid At-Tawhid in the fifth precinct, feels a sense of sadness after hearing about the news in Albuquerque.

“Every time something happens, it’s an emotional outburst. But the sad reality is that this is becoming a problem, not just in the country but around the world where violence is on the rise,” Khan said. “I’m afraid that people are getting a dose of Media Novocain, which means that young people are starting to become less sensitive to what’s happening.”

Houston Deputy Police Commissioner Yasar Bashir, also a Muslim, said his department does not want this to become a reality for Houstonians who worship Islam. That’s why he said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and HPD chief Troy Finner have one Response on Twitter about their efforts to help the Muslims living in our area feel safe and secure. They hope to be proactive instead of reactive.

“Any crime like this just breaks everyone’s heart. It is unacceptable to harm someone because of their appearance or their belief system. First, in the US, it’s a crime. Second, as community leaders, we will not tolerate this,” Bashir said.

ALSO READ: Houston police step up mosque patrols after fourth Muslim man killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Khan said they already have a security system in their mosque. But he looks forward to discussions with HPD to allay concerns from our local Muslim community. Every time something this devastating happens, it only emboldens them to do more good in the community to help break down negative stereotypes and misconceptions about those who practice Islam.

“Let people know that no matter what, there is hope for the community. There is hope for America. There is hope for Texas. There is hope for Houston. There is hope for this Fifth Ward, Houston’s Northeast Corridor,” he said.

White, who serves as operations director for CAIR, said her organization is also stepping up to close victims’ families in New Mexico. They are offering a $15,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for these murders. Tips should be filed with the FBI or the Albuquerque Police Department.

“I think Texas and New Mexico have a very close relationship. While Houston is quite a distance from New Mexico, I think there’s a lot of people going back and forth, vacationing, maybe they have friends there,” he said.

For stories about Houston’s diverse communities, follow Rosie Nguyen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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https://abc13.com/albuquerque-muslim-men-killed-new-mexico-islamophobia/12110474/ Islamophobic killer targets 4 men killed in Albuquerque, Houston police step up patrol in Muslim community, officials say

Dais Johnston

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