Saturday Jan 15, 2022
LONDON: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has told the Kingston Magistrates’ Court that British Pakistani man Muhammad Gohir Khan was hired as a “hitman” to kill blogger and activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in a plot that ran from the 16th day of February 2021 to the 24th day of June 2021.
Starting the murder conspiracy trial at the court before 12-members jury, the crown prosecutor explained in full over two days how Mohammed Khan entered into an agreement with unknown persons or handlers — described in court papers as Muzamil/Mudz/Pappa/Mush — to travel to Netherland in order to kill Goraya.
Opening the prosecution case, Alison Morgan QC told the court that Khan was broke at the time and he needed money desperately to pay off his debts. The court heard that Khan was already declared bankrupt and had debts of over £200,000 to pay and he was under significant pressure.
The jury heard that Khan willingly agreed to become part of the plot. He didn’t know much about his target even after the handler had shared the picture and name of Goraya with Khan.
The total deal was for £100,000 but the handler wanted £20,000 as a cut for himself without the “big boss” knowing about that and offered to pay £80,000 to Khan who agreed to the deal.
Separate from that, £5,000 was paid in advance through a bank transfer to cover travel expenses and to pay for PCR tests as well as to buy a knife and other “accessories” required for the killing.
Khan worked at a supermarket at the time to make both ends meet and was over enthusiastic when “Muzammil” got in touch with him offering him a “project”.
The court heard that the target received direct information from the American FBI in 2018 that his life was in danger and then he also received threats online and in one instance inside pictures of his residence were posted online by a “troll”.
When Khan persisted if the target was big or small, the handler told him it would be a “tuna” and not a “shark” and he said so in order to keep the costs down or Khan would ask for more to do the job. It was agreed that Khan will be paid the full amount only if he succeeds in killing the target.
Mudz supplied a picture and address of Goraya to Khan, said the prosecution.
When Khan started suggesting that he deserved more money in costs and other expenses, the handler told him that he will get rewards in this world and a place in Jannah for the job he will do.
The handler told Khan that he had two more jobs ready for him but those assignments would be given to him only if he completed the first job successfully.
At the same time, Khan lied to the handler in order to get more money and told him that his “crew” will be with him for the job in the Netherlands and that he should be paid more to meet the expenses of at least three other accomplices.
The court heard that Khan immediately made travel plans to go to the Netherlands in mid June, arranging a fake visit invitation letter for the Netherlands when there were strict no-fly rules in place.
When he arrived in Rotterdam on a KLM flight, he was stopped and deported to London after failing to satisfy the immigration officials and the checks found that the address of residence was fake.
Throughout his journey, Khan kept sending updates to Muzammil on his WhatsApp including sending pictures of the airport to assure him that he was on the job and was serious.
After coming back to London the next day, Khan immediately booked Eurostar to travel to the Netherlands via France. From Paris, he reached Rotterdam via bus and took a taxi from the bus station to his hotel which was booked near the target’s home address provided to him.
Within minutes of arriving at the hotel and after putting the luggage down, Khan made his way to the target’s home address and started making pictures and videos.
Unknown to him, Khan was being recorded on three CCTV cameras, all pointed towards the building where the target lived.
Khan started making inquiries to the locals about the target’s name but nobody knew his name or recognised from the “mugshot” provided by the handler.
At this point, the handler asked him to do his own research into the target and find him. Khan asked for the target at a local café, at a Pakistani business centre and went on knocking at the doors in neighbourhood.
He then told Mudz that he and his mates could enter the given flat address as “robbers” to do the job because in three days there was no movement in and out of that target’s flat while all other residential flats had people coming in and out all the time.
He then sent videos of the target’s flat to Mudz for further confirmation after Mudz told him that in the winter of the same year his “boss” had received a video of Goraya entering the same address.
Khan hired a car and visited a local knife shop called “Blockers” to buy a knife for 9.99 Euros which he kept with him as he went to find his target and made investigations about his whereabouts.
He asked Mudz will he still be paid if he ended up killing a lookalike or someone unrelated during the robbery. At this, the handler told him that he will be paid only if he got the target right or there will be no payment for killing an “innocent” person.
Throughout Khan reported to Muzammil and asked for more information on the target. Both of them started arguing with each other over money when it became clear to Khan that he cannot spot the target and Mudz was not agreeing to transfer £10,000 immediately to cover expenses.
Khan then booked a Eurostar journey to St Pancras International Station in London and left Netherlands. Before he left London, the Dutch immigration stopped him and asked him questions.
Khan’s answers raised alarm and the Dutch police told Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism command unit to investigate Khan.
As soon as he arrived in London, Khan was arrested by the police. He refused to give the pin number of his Samsung Galaxy phone (used to chat with Mudz) to the police but handed over the pin of Nokia phone.
The prosecution said the police cracked his phone open the following day and three days later, on 25 June, arrested him from his home and charged him with conspiracy to murder on 28th of June.
During the interviews, Khan admitted getting into the agreement to kill the target but said he was bluffing to make money out of Mudz and had nothing against the target. He denies charges. The trial continues.
Originally published in The News