Convicted: Forest Gate man plotted contract killing of Rotterdam blogger
- Credit: Met Police
A former businessman from Forest Gate has been convicted over a "chilling" plot to kill a Rotterdam-based Pakistani blogger and activist.
Muhammad Gohir Khan, 31, of Sprowston Road, will be sentenced on March 11 after he was found guilty of conspiracy to murder in an unanimous verdict on Friday, January 28 at Kingston Crown Court.
Police uncovered more than 2,000 WhatsApp messages between Khan and a co-conspirator in which they discussed and agreed to the contract killing.
The victim is thought to have been targeted because of his public profile and outspoken political views, the Met said.
Khan, who working at a supermarket at the time, believed he stood to receive up to £80,000 for carrying out the murder.
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.”
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Commander Smith added the Met and Border Force worked with Dutch police in the Rotterdam Counter Terrorism, Extremism and Radicalization Unit and their SO15 counterparts to foil the plot.
During interviews with SO15 officers, Khan maintained that he never intended to carry out the killing.
He said he had no idea who the victim was and that he was motivated to get involved in what they called "the project" in order to profit from a person called ‘Mudz’.
However, officers found that WhatsApp communications between Khan and this person - also referred to as Ali, Zed and Papa - about the planned killing began on February 17 last year.
Detectives uncovered thousands of messages detailing the plans.
They talked about the price to be paid on successful completion of the killing, the terms of the agreement, travelling to Rotterdam, where the victim might be found and what he looked like.
Police are still working to identify and locate the co-conspirator, but believe he may be a former business associate of Khan and goes by the name of ‘Muzzamil’.
Having agreed to the murder plot, Khan got a Eurostar train from London to Paris on June 17, before catching a bus to Rotterdam.
Khan stayed in Rotterdam for a few days but was unable to find the victim and travelled back to the UK.
When he arrived at St Pancras International station on June 23, he was stopped by police officers under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Border Officers in the Netherlands were concerned Khan’s nervous disposition and had communicated this to them, leading to him being stopped on his return to London.
Khan refused to provide officers with the PIN for his smartphone – which he has a duty to do as part of being stopped under schedule 7 of the Act – so he was arrested and the phone was seized.
From there, officers were able to gain access to Khan’s phone, which led them to uncovering the real reason for his trip to Rotterdam and his involvement in the conspiracy to murder.
Two days after he was stopped at St Pancras, on the morning of 25 June, police executed a warrant at Khan’s home address and arrested him again.
After further investigation, Khan was charged on June 28 with conspiracy to murder.
Anyone with information about the person referred to as Mudz and believed to go by the name Muzzamil can contact the investigation team, in confidence, on 0800 789 321.
Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.