UK police warn Pakistani
exiles against target killers

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By Guardian special report

Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa

THE UK counter-terrorism police have advised to Pakistani exiles seeking refuge to keep a low-profile following warning that their lives may be at risk after criticising Pakistan’s powerful military.

Counter Terrorism Policing, a collaboration of UK police forces and the security services, have told possible targets that they need to inform police if they intend to travel within the UK. The details of police warning and reference of Pak military have been published in London based newspaper Guardian/Observer on Sunday.

The advice came from the Counter Terrorism Policing, which is a collaboration of the UK police forces that work with UK intelligence personnel to help prevent and investigate terrorist activity.

Commander Richard Smith from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command

The development came just a week after a jury convicted Muhammad Gohir Khan, a 31-year-old British man of Pakistani descent, who agreed to kill a Pakistani dissident based in the Netherlands as part of a contract killing conspiracy. A photo and address of the target, blogger and activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya, was provided by a Pakistan-based middleman identified in the trial only as “Muzammil”. Inquiries into establishing the identity and whereabouts of Muzammil remain ongoing, the Met Police said in a statement.

The report said that ahead of the trial, officers from the Counter Terrorism Policing warned Pakistani political commentator Rashid Murad to “review his security”.

“Police have already installed a panic alarm and CCTV at his home and shared guidance on personal security from the national counter-terrorism security office,” the report said.

Murad told the paper two police officers visited his home last year and informed him that they had intercepted a communication which revealed that some people were planning to harm him. “They didn’t tell me who but indicated they were from the Pakistani authorities,” Murad alleged.

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“Pak dissidents advised to keep a low profile as British hitman Gohir Khan is convicted in London, will be sentenced on March 11. Ayesha Siddiqa says she has also been warned of threats to her life, involving UK-based Pak drug gangs”

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The report also mentioned lawyer Fazal Khan as another alleged “target” of the Pakistani authorities. Khan said officers from the Met’s counter-terrorism command told him to notify other UK police forces if he intended to travel outside London.

“In the UK, a severe threat exists; London, Birmingham and cities like Sheffield with big Asian communities and where they [the Pakistani authorities] have people on their payroll. I was asked not to move around, not to leave the city and provide the police details of my contacts,” Khan told The Guardian.

Muhammad Gohir Khan

The report said defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa has also been warned of threats to her life, and revealed that a well-connected lawyer had told her that the method used to target her would involve British-based Pakistani drug gangs.

Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa urged the UK government to pressure Pakistan to also identify an unknown man named in Khan’s trial who was referred to as Muzammil’s “boss”, believed to be behind Goraya’s murder plot.

Pashtun rights campaigner Zar Ali Khan Afridi, who fled to the Netherlands after an abduction attempt, was quoted in the report as saying that he had received a life-threatening call from a British number.

Journalist Yunas Khan in France said he had received an email in December from the French authorities who informed him of leaked audio files in which “a figure from Pakistan’s ruling party, Tehreek-i-Insaf, tells the Pakistani community in Europe to attack Khan”.

“It is a matter of Pakistan’s honour,” says the man on the recording: “Go and make him accountable if you are legitimate sons of your parents.”

The Pakistan government has denied the allegations. A statement from the government to the paper read, “Those who are baselessly defaming and spreading propaganda against Pakistan military and intelligence agencies are doing it to accomplish either their own ulterior motives or that of their sponsors.”

Pakistani blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya

Earlier, police reported that a British “hitman” has been found guilty of conspiring to kill a Pakistani dissident in the Netherlands blogger Ahmed Waqass Goraya. A court in London heard Muhammad Gohir Khan was offered £100,000 (about $134,000) to carry out the murder in Rotterdam last year.

However, he failed to track his target down, and was arrested on his return to the UK. Now a jury has given a unanimous guilty verdict of conspiracy to murder and he is set be sentenced in March. Gohir Khan, 31 (16.02 1990) of Sprowston Road, E7, will be sentenced on 11 March.

According to MET Police, an investigation by the Met’s Counter Terror Command has led to a former east London businessman being found guilty of conspiracy to murder.

Officers uncovered more than 2,000 WhatsApp messages between Muhammad Gohir Khan and his co-conspirator where they discussed and agreed to the contract killing of a Rotterdam based Pakistani blogger and activist.

Fazal Khan

Commander Richard Smith from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “I commend the Counter-terrorism officers and Border Force colleagues whose vigilance and close cooperation initiated this investigation, which subsequently revealed a chilling conspiracy to murder.

“Khan fell foul of his own low cunning and artifice, and the investigation found he was willing to carry out a murder for financial gain, giving no regard for his intended victim. We were able to stop Khan from carrying out this murderous plot through cooperation with UK Border Force and our Dutch colleagues in the Rotterdam Counter Terrorism, Extremism and Radicalization (CTER) Unit who worked tirelessly alongside their SO15 counterparts throughout the investigation.