Muslim Killings in Albuquerque Stir Sectarian Ghosts

Mr. Syed was clearly angry, Mr. Hadi said, and came to the store in person to threaten the family on three separate occasions. Mr. Syed would call the brothers “kafir.” The word, intended to be derogatory, refers to nonbelievers who understand religion but opt to hide from it. Popularized in Saudi Arabia to denigrate Shiite Muslims, the term was later adopted by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“When we’d tell him to leave, he’d just go to his car and sit in the parking lot waiting for us for hours,” Mr. Hadi said. “We called the police but they never showed up.”

The police said they had no record of any such calls for assistance. But in February 2020, surveillance images from the Islamic Center of New Mexico showed Mr. Syed slashing the tires of the car Mr. Hadi’s wife had parked outside the mosque there. Leaders of the mosque told Mr. Syed to stay away, and he did so for months.

Mr. Syed now stands accused of murder in the killings of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal…

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This article was written by Simon Romero, Miriam Jordan, Ava Sasani and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and originally published on