ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – He is charged with killing three Muslim men in Albuquerque last year. Muhammad Syed’s defense attorney is now asking a judge to throw out the statements he made to police after his arrest arguing Syed wasn’t fully read his Miranda Rights. So will the police interview KRQE obtained be allowed in court? KRQE Investigates shows what the accused killer told detectives.
- August 4: Police: 3 separate murders of Muslim men in Albuquerque could be related
- August 6: Homicide could be connected to other Muslim shootings
- August 7: APD seeks vehicle of interest in homicide investigation
- August 8: Victim’s brother speaks out as police investigate if Muslim murders are connected
- August 8: Muslims fleeing Albuquerque, Afghan community remembers 4th victim
- August 9: Suspect arrested in murders of Albuquerque Muslim men
- August 10: Police search for motive as community grapples with murder of Muslim men
- August 10: Video: Murder suspect appears to slash tires in parking lot of Albuquerque mosque
- The Syed family’s encounters with police
On August 9, 2022, Albuquerque police caught up with 51-year-old Muhammed Syed off I-40 in Santa Rosa. Police brought him back to Albuquerque’s main police station. Police video obtained by KRQE News 13 shows a detective taking Syed in an interrogation room.
Muhammad Syed was eventually charged with the killing of three Muslim men in July and August of last year. Police believe he shot and killed Aftab Hussein in July 2022.
Police video obtained by KRQE Investigates shows an APD detective calling an interpreter to help translate his questions into Syed’s native language, Afghan Pashto. The detective then starts to read Syed his Miranda Rights.
Detective: “You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand that?”
The detective then waits for the translator and Syed to say he understands.
Detective: “If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present you will have the right to stop answering until you talk to an attorney.”
Now in a motion to keep that interview from being seen by a jury, Syed’s defense attorney argues the detective missed a crucial part of reading those rights. That if he “cannot afford counsel, one will be appointed for him.”
The defense argues, “If these warnings are not given, any statements uttered by the defendant must be suppressed.” The prosecution agrees Syed was “not properly and completely advised of his Miranda Warnings,” but argues Syed’s statements were voluntary. The prosecutors also say they should be admissible in court as rebuttal evidence for cross-examination if Syed testifies.
In the interview, Syed talks about how he knew Naheem Hussain very well.
Interpreter for Syed: “So I know him from 2016 when I came to the United States of America. When I came to this country as an immigrant or as a refugee, he helped me with work and he supported me, and they looked after me and his family to make sure that I had everything I needed. So ever since he was a good friend and I knew him.”
The detectives later asked Syed about his AK-47, the same type of weapon used in all of the killings.
Detective: “Where is your AK-47 right now?”
Interpreter for Syed: “It’s in his own box. It’s in my house, under my bed.”
Federal investigators say they used GPS on Syed’s phone to help connect him to each crime scene.
Detective: “Do you always take your phone when you go to Walmart or Costco or Target or to the desert? Do you always take your phone with you?”
Interpreter for Syed: “Yeah. Yeah, yeah.”
There were some struggles during the hours-long interview because the interpreter had trouble translating some English words into Syed’s native language. Near the end, the detective asked some pointed questions about the killings.
Detective: “Muhammad Afzal Hussain or Aftab Hussain. Did you go to their funeral at the mosque?”
Syed answered directly, “No. This Friday, the last Friday – I was at home.”
Syed’s son, Shaheen Syed, was hit with federal gun charges last year. In a federal court hearing for that case, prosecutors showed cell phone tower records that appeared to place Muhammad Syed near the mosque and the murder scene of Naheem Hussain, on the same day he claims he was at his house.
At this point, Syed’s attorney is also asking a judge to separate each one of these murder charges into separate cases. APD says Syed remains the primary suspect in the November 2021 murder of Mohammad Ahmadi. A district court judge will hear arguments on Monday from both sides on whether to suppress evidence in Syed’s court cases.