Imran Farooq: several convicted over murder of Pakistani exile in London

Pakistani court gives MQM party members life sentences for stabbing political rival in 2010

Imran Farooq
Imran Farooq was killed as he returned home from work in north London in September 2010
Owen Bowcott
A Pakistani court has convicted several men over the murder of a prominent exiled politician in north London 10 years ago.
Dr Imran Farooq, 50, was repeatedly stabbed and bludgeoned with a house brick in Edgware as he returned home from work on 16 September 2010. The killing of Farooq, a founding member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), sparked rioting in his native city of Karachi.

On Thursday a court in Islamabad found Mohsin Ali Syed, 35, guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. A second man, Muhammad Kashif Khan Kamran, 40, was convicted in his absence of murdering Farooq and is wanted by Pakistani authorities. Both men are Pakistani nationals.

Two other men, Khalid Shamim and Moazzam Ali, who are in jail in Rawalpindi, were also convicted for their involvement in the killing.

The court additionally issued an arrest warrant for Altaf Hussain, who heads the MQM party, declaring he had ordered the killing. Hussain has denied any role in the killing and maintains that Farooq was like a brother to him.

As well as Kamran, two other men – Iftikhar Hussain and Mohammad Anwar – were named as fugitives to be arrested by Pakistani or British authorities.

Farooq had been living in exile in the UK since 1999. He left Pakistan to avoid arrest in connection with several legal cases against him in Karachi and later sought political asylum in Britain. His membership of MQM had been suspended at the time of his death.

MQM, long accused of using extortion and murder to cement its grip on power, was accused for years of fomenting ethnic violence in Karachi.

Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, SO15, investigated the killing, speaking to more than 4,000 witnesses and collecting more than 4,500 pieces of evidence.

Exhibits in the trial included CCTV footage that showed Syed and Kamran around Edgware in the days leading up to the attack. Syed was recorded watching Farooq using a cash machine on the day of the killing. Syed was also spotted entering a 99p store on 14 September and purchasing a pack of knives that matched those recovered at the murder scene.

On Thursday Scotland Yard gave further details of its investigation. It said: “A forensic review of the items recovered from the scene was carried out in October 2014. A partial thumbprint, which had been found on a knife that was found hidden in a bush near Dr Farooq’s home, was reprocessed and forensic officers were able to confirm that it matched the print on Syed’s UK student visa application.”

Both Syed and Kamran, who were connected to MQM, fled on a flight from Heathrow to Colombo, Sri Lanka, late in the evening after Farooq’s murder and travelled on to Karachi several days later. Pakistani authorities arrested Syed in 2015; the trial began last year.

The UK’s high commissioner to Pakistan, Christian Turner, paid tribute to the “ground-breaking legal collaboration” that led to Syed’s conviction. “Today’s conviction marks a team effort between law agencies in the UK and Pakistan working together to get justice for the murder of Dr Imran Farooq,” he said.

Richard Smith, the head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terror operation, said: “This outcome would not have been possible were it not for the incredible dedication, skill and determination of the investigation team who for almost 10 years have never given up in the pursuit of his killers.”

 

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