A New Mexico grand jury on Monday charged an Afghan refugee with the murder of three Muslim men in ambush shootings that have shaken the immigrant community in the state's largest city, Albuquerque.
Police on August 9 charged Muhammad Syed with two of the killings and evidence from mobile phones allowed prosecutors to link him to a third murder — that of business owner Naeem Hussain on August 5.
Mr Syed was charged with the murder of Hussain and the killings of cafe employee Aftab Hussein on July 26 and city planning director Muhammad Afzaal Hussain on August 1, the grand jury indictment said.
Police said Mr Syed was the primary suspect in a fourth murder of grocery shop and cafe owner Mohammad Ahmadi, which occurred last year.
The office of Bernalillo District Attorney Raul Torrez said it was working with police “to investigate any involvement Mr Syed might have had with the November 2021 homicide”.
Grand juries operate in secrecy and are often used by prosecutors to allow witnesses to speak freely without fear of retaliation.
National Muslim advocacy groups have said the murders of Afghan and Pakistani immigrants may be driven by inter-Muslim sectarian hate.
People who knew the victims and Mr Syed said the killings were connected more to personal feuds or revenge.
Federal prosecutors have linked Mr Syed's 21-year-old son to the August 5 murder of Naeem Hussain.