Correction to the story as of 8/17/22: Shaheen “Maiwand” Syed and Adil Syed were incorrectly identified as twins in this and previous stories for The Paper. They are brothers.

Details have continued to emerge regarding the family of Mohammad Syed, 51, of Albuquerque, who is charged with two murders in the Muslim community. He is charged with the July 26 murder of Aftab Hussein, and the August 1 murder of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain.  

The Paper. previously detailed the federal charges against Maiwand “Shaheen Syed”, the son of Muhammed Syed. Shaheen is accused of using a false Florida address to make a purchase at Omni Arms in Albuquerque.

But as more information is gathered and released by law enforcement at both the state and federal levels, it seems the criminal investigation may also involve more than one of Muhammad Syed’s children.  

FBI Used Cell Data

Last week, the US Attorney’s Office filed a motion in a federal case to detain Shaheen Syed, claiming that he was a flight risk and a danger to the community at large. The motion also noted that Shaheen’s sister, Lubna, used WhatsApp, a popular platform within the city’s Muslim community, to forward him a picture of a flyer distributed by Albuquerque Police featuring the Volkswagen Jetta in which Mohammad Syed was eventually arrested.

Included in the motion are details about the location of Shaheen Syed’s cellphone, which was taken from cell tower data by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“Between 4:18 p.m. and 4:20 p.m., the defendant’s phone was located along an arc of radio signals between his cell phone and a cell tower that encompassed the location where Naeem Hussain was murdered,” the motion states.

The motion also details FBI information that they said shows Mohammad Syed near Naeem Hussain when he was murdered.

“Does it mean that Defendant was within 100 yards of the murder scene, or five miles? Absent such explanatory information, this evidence is hardly probative of Defendant’s involvement in the murders.”

John C. Anderson, Defense Attorney for Shaheen Syed

Former Prosecutor Heads Defense

Defense attorney John C. Anderson filed a motion in opposition to the government’s motion to detain Shaheen Syed until trial.

“But how long is this ‘arc of radio signals?’” Anderson wrote.  “Does it mean that Defendant was within 100 yards of the murder scene or five miles? Absent such explanatory information, this evidence is hardly probative of Defendant’s involvement in the murders.”

Anderson clearly has familiarity with the tools available to federal law enforcement, as he retired as the top prosecutor in the US District Court of New Mexico in 2020 and later returned to the private practice of law at Holland & Hart in Santa Fe.

“The United States’ evidence is further undermined by the fact that Defendant was issued a Florida driver’s license reflecting the same address indicated on the ATF Form,” Anderson wrote.

This image, of Shaheen Syed’s Florida Driver’s license, was attached as an exhibit to the motion filed by Anderson in federal court.

Anderson doesn’t specifically say Shaheen Syed ever lived in Florida but implied that police didn’t know for sure either.  

“Interviewing a series of residents at an apartment complex who do not recall Defendant living there is hardly a foolproof method of investigation,” Anderson wrote.

Anderson wrote that since Shaheen Syed hasn’t been charged as a suspect or accomplice in any of the murders, and until he is, the government shouldn’t be using the current charges in an attempt to detain him until trial.

“If either the United States or the State of New Mexico has enough evidence to charge Defendant with a more serious crime, it is certainly at liberty to do so,” Anderson wrote. “But in the absence of evidence sufficient even to charge Defendant with involvement in those murders, he cannot be detained on that basis.”

Brother Also Had Florida License

Shaheen Syed’s brother Adil Syed has a history of traffic infractions like many young drivers do. He received several tickets in and around the metro area as recently as 2020, but in late 2021, Adil Syed was pulled over by New Mexico State Police (NMSP) on I-40 near Gallup driving a commercial truck.

He was issued two citations, one for speeding and another for not having the correct “US DOT” markings on the truck he was driving. The address listed on the traffic citation is in Hollywood, Florida.

According to an NMSP spokesperson, the address information on a traffic citation is automatically populated after an officer scans the license with their in-car computer system. The system also records the driver’s license number and other details about the driver.

Court records show that Adil Syed had a commercial driver’s license (CDL) issued in Florida when he was stopped by NMSP. The court even sent related documents to the address listed on the license, but they were returned by the United States Postal Service as undeliverable. But Adil Syed missed his initial court date in February 2022 and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest

The McKinley County court notified the motor vehicle department, which resulted in a suspension or revocation of Adil Syed’s CDL, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Records show that Adil Syed’s Florida driver’s license is still suspended or revoked in Florida.

It’s unknown whether Adil Syed maintained his New Mexico Driver’s license simultaneously with the Florida license, because New Mexico’s Motor Vehicle Division doesn’t allow for public access in the same way that Florida’s system does.

The Paper. checked Florida property records for the address Adil Syed’s Florida license provided and did not find any obvious connection to the Syed family.

Records for the company that owned the truck indicate that it was operational from January 2021 to June 2022. The company had a total of five drivers and four trucks.

The Paper. attempted to contact the company for comment, but was unsuccessful.

Brothers Involved In Previous Shooting

Federal court documents also detail a violent incident where both Adil Syed and Shaheen Syed were allegedly involved in a shooting near a Walmart on San Mateo.

The brothers told police they were involved in some sort of road rage incident and that another driver, a man driving a black car, “brake checked” them when they pulled in behind him in the Walmart parking lot.

“[Shaheen] and his brother then tried to quickly pass when the driver of the sedan stepped out and flashed a firearm,” federal court documents state.  “The driver sat back down but the defendant stated that he could see that the driver still had the gun pointed at them and was following them.”

Then, according to the police report, Adil Syed shot at the man.

“[Shaheen] then stopped the car and his brother, Adil, stepped out of the passenger side of the car and shot at the black sedan,” federal court documents stated.

It’s unclear why APD never filed any charges against Adil Syed. A document filed as an exhibit with the federal motion indicates that a supervisor signed off on an additional supplemental report in August 2021 and the case was marked as inactive.

Lots of Police Contact

None of the previous accusations related to domestic violence crimes involving Mohammad Syed, Shaheen Syed and Adil Syed have ever been prosecuted.

It’s not uncommon in domestic violence cases for family members to choose not to cooperate with police, ergo filings from the prosecution dismissing those charges are no surprise.

Muhammad Syed’s 2020 charges for resisting an officer were ultimately dismissed after an APD officer failed to appear for the trial.

However, the inactive status of the case where Adil Syed reported to APD that he shot at another driver in a Walmart parking lot when he was with his brother Shaheen raises more questions than it answers.

“While it appears that no charges were ultimately brought against the [Shaheen] or his brother in [the Walmart shooting], it is also true that most upstanding individuals manage to avoid getting themselves involved in road rage incidents that escalate to the level where guns are flashed, and then fired, in a public space,” the federal motion states. “This is especially true where the defendant and his brother apparently chose to stop their car to allow Adil to get out of the car and fire at the sedan.”