Evidence allegedly ties the son of the suspect in New Mexico Muslim killings to the crimes, authorities say

The son of the man suspected of killing at least two Muslim men in New Mexico in recent months allegedly may also have played a role in the crime, authorities said in court documents filed last week.

Documents filed on Friday by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico’s office allege that Shaheen Syed, a son of Muhammad Syed, may be connected in the Aug. 5 killing of Naeem Hussain, 25, and the Nov. 7 slaying of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62.

Authorities are still investigating those cases, and Muhammad Syed has not been charged with the murders.

Now the U.S. Attorney’s office wants to detain Shaheen Syed, also known as Maiwand, pending trial in connection to the murders as he “presents both a flight risk and a grave danger to the community.”

Evidence allegedly tying Syed to the murders includes cell tower data, which connect his phone to his father’s and place them both in an area close to the location where Naeem Hussain was murdered on Aug. 5. There’s also evidence of Syed having “short and frequent communications with his father both before and after the murder of Naeem Hussain,” the documents state.

“Telephone calls between Muhammad Atif Syed and the defendant would be consistent with quick surveillance calls, both before and after the shooting,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. “And there appears to be no logical reason for the defendant to have just happened to have been in the vicinity of the murder scene so shortly after Mr. Hussain was murdered.” 

Investigators also found a pistol in Syed’s bedroom when they executed a search warrant on the family home. It was not made clear if this weapon is connected in any way to the two murders.

In response to the United State’s motion, an attorney for Syed argues that the court is being asked to detain his client “based on exceedingly thin and speculative allegations that he is somehow involved with or connected to those murders.”

“The United States’ motion boils down to an effort to detain Defendant for a crime with which he has not even been charged,” attorney John C. Anderson said in the response. “If the United States or the State of New Mexico does not have sufficient evidence even to charge Defendant with any involvement in the murders, Defendant should not be detained based on supposed involvement in those murders.”

Anderson added that Syed and his father sharing an interest in firearms and cell tower data that doesn’t specify exactly how close he was to the scene of the recent murder “is hardly clear and convincing” evidence.

Syed is also referred to as a “serial liar” in the court documents, with investigators alleging he lied on a number of occasions, including putting an incorrect address in a firearms transaction record for a weapon he bought in 2021. Syed was arrested on Aug. 9 and is facing charges in connection with that incident.

In an interview early last week after searching his family’s residence, Syed told law enforcement he had not been in the Volkswagen Jetta linked to his father at gun stores recently, which was determined to be false.

“Defendant’s propensity for dishonesty should undermine the Court’s confidence that he will be forthright with any probation officer tasked with supervising him on any form of pretrial release,” the court documents state.

Syed’s past run-ins with law enforcement were also cited as reasons he should be detained pending trial.

In one incident earlier this year, police responded to a call about a domestic violence incident where Syed allegedly hit his 16-year-old sister and his father. His father, who had blood all over his face, said he had attempted to prevent Syed from hitting his sister, which resulted in Syed striking him in the face, according to the documents.

The daughter did not cooperate with police and told them she did not know what happened, while the father opted to press charges against Syed. Officers issued Syed a summons to appear in court on a criminal charge of “battery on a household member,” but he failed to appear. A bench warrant for Syed was issued by a judge in Apr. 4, which remains outstanding.

Anderson, Syed’s attorney, claims he never received the summons or complaint issued to him in this case, according to court documents.

His father, Muhammad, was also implicated in troubling domestic violence incidents, including one inside a state office building, court documents show.

Syed is set to appear in court on Monday morning in regards to the United States’ motion to detain him pending trial, his attorney, John C. Anderson, told NBC News.

Dennis Romero, David K. Li, Janelle Griffith, Daniel Arkin, Tim Stelloh and Alicia Victoria Lozano contributed.

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