A man has been convicted in Pakistan for the murder of Dr Imran Farooq in Edgware, north London in September 2010.
The conviction came about following a ground-breaking agreement between the UK and Pakistan, which enabled evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police Service to be shared with Pakistani prosecutors and be presented as part of their case.
The conviction comes almost 10 years after the murder of Dr Farooq and is the culmination of painstaking work by detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, who sifted through thousands of hours of CCTV, spoke with over 4,000 witnesses and collected more than 4,500 exhibits as part of the investigation, which led them to identify the two men who committed the murder outside Dr Farooq’s home in Green Lane, Edgware.
Following a trial in Islamabad, Pakistani national Mohsin Ali Syed, 35 was found guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder Dr Imran Farooq.
Muhammad Kashif Khan Kamran, 40, a Pakistani national and the other individual who was identified by Met detectives as being involved in the murder, was also convicted in absentia of murdering Dr Farooq.
Commander Richard Smith, Head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “I am pleased that one of the men we identified as being responsible for the murder of Dr Imran Farooq has finally been brought to justice.
“This outcome would not have been possible were it not for the incredible dedication, skill and determination of the investigation team, who for almost ten years, have never given up in their pursuit of his killers.
“I would also like to pay tribute to Dr Imran Farooq’s widow and his family, who have shown tremendous dignity, strength and patience as we have gone about our investigation.”
Christian Turner, the UK’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, said: “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.
“This ground-breaking legal collaboration meant that evidence gathered by the British police could be shared with Pakistani prosecutors and used in the successful prosecution of Mohsin Ali Syed.”
Dr Farooq was murdered on 16 September 2010 when, after returning home from work, he was approached and brutally and fatally attacked by two men armed with a brick and knives.
Due to Dr Farooq’s standing as a senior figure within the Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – and the possibility that the murder was in some way connected to this – the investigation was taken on by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
Initially, there was very little evidence for detectives to use that would help identify the attackers. A small number of witnesses had seen the attack, and provided descriptions of the two men, but there was no CCTV near the house or close by that showed the suspects and no immediate forensic evidence available to help identify the attackers.
Several public appeals, including the release of an e-fit image of one of the attackers, were made in the days, weeks and months following the attack, but these did not lead to any meaningful breakthroughs in the investigation.
As such, detectives set about the task of retracing Dr Farooq’s movements on the days leading up to the attack – collecting thousands of hours of CCTV footage, which included footage from the area around Edgware Underground Station and Station Road.
The first significant breakthrough came when officers spotted a man who seemed to be watching Dr Farooq on the morning of 16 September 2010 as he was using a cashpoint outside Barclays bank in Station Road, Edgware.
The same man, who is wearing a distinctive cap, is then seen to use the cashpoint shortly after. When officers reviewed other CCTV footage from the Station Road area just prior to the murder, they saw a man wearing the same distinctive cap running in the direction of Dr Farooq’s home address.
Further CCTV from the area was examined, and the same individual was also seen on footage from the day before the murder, where he was with another man – both using the same cashpoint outside Barclay’s bank.
Enquiries with the bank linked the cash withdrawals by the man wearing the cap to an account in the name of Mohsin Ali Syed. The account was registered to an address in Stanmore, and when officers visited the address, the landlord confirmed that he had reported Syed missing on 29 September 2010. The landlord revealed that around two weeks before the date of the murder, he had given Syed permission for a friend called ‘Kamran’ to stay at the flat.
The landlord also told officers that Syed was studying at a private college in east London and had been since around February 2010. When detectives contacted the college they discovered that a man called Muhammad Kamran had also enrolled at the college on 8 September 2010 – just over a week before the murder took place. His college enrolment papers showed Kamran had listed Syed’s Stanmore address as being his UK residence.
Officers continued to trawl through CCTV footage gathered from the Edgware Station area and found footage of two men – believed to be Syed and Kamran – together on 14 September 2010. They also found footage of Syed entering the local 99p store on the same date, where he was seen purchasing a pack of knives, matching those recovered from the murder scene.
Detectives analysed flight passenger lists for flights departing the UK in the days after the murder, and found that Syed and Kamran had travelled on a flight from London Heathrow to Colombo, Sri Lanka late on 16 September 2010. Further enquiries by officers showed that both Syed and Kamran then travelled on a flight from Sri Lanka to Karachi, Pakistan on 19 September 2010.
This led to the investigation team publicly announcing in May 2014 that both Syed and Kamran were wanted in connection with the murder. However, officers believed that the pair were likely to still be in Pakistan.
Following the developments in the investigation, a forensic review of the items recovered from the scene was carried out in October 2014. A partial thumb print, 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.
Enquiries into the pair’s background revealed that both Syed and Kamran were connected to the MQM Party, and confirmed the investigation team’s suspicion that the murder had likely been politically-motivated, given Dr Farooq had been suspended from the party at the time of his death.
In June 2015, Pakistani authorities confirmed to British authorities that they had arrested three men in connection with the murder, one of whom was Syed. Officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command travelled to Pakistan in July and September 2015 to interview the men as part of the ongoing investigation. Upon their return, officers presented their findings from the course of the investigation to the Crown Prosecution Service, and charges against Syed were authorised, although he remained in custody in Pakistan.
The three men in custody in Pakistan, which included Syed, were subsequently charged by Pakistani authorities in connection with the murder of Dr Farooq.
A formal mutual legal assistance (MLA) request by Pakistan to the UK was made in February 2019. This was followed by a temporary change to Pakistani law which provided that the death penalty would not be used in cases where evidence had been transferred under MLA from a state where the death penalty is prohibited. This was further supported by assurances from the Pakistani authorities that the death penalty would not be imposed in this case.
In August 2019, the MLA request was accepted by UK authorities and officers began the process of providing relevant evidence from their investigation to the Pakistani authorities to assist in their prosecution of Syed and Kamran. The temporary change to Pakistani law and the consequent provision of UK evidence in a Pakistani trial were ground-breaking steps forward in legal cooperation between the UK and Pakistan.
The trial continued throughout late 2019, and early 2020 and officers from the investigation team attended court in Pakistan to give evidence and provide details of the Met’s investigation into the murder. A number of UK-based witnesses also gave evidence during the trial in Pakistan via video-link at Hendon Magistrates’ Court.
Following his conviction, Syed was sentenced to life imprisonment. Kamran was convicted in absentia, and remains wanted by Pakistani authorities.
As part of the Pakistani prosecution, a number of other individuals were also convicted of conspiracy to murder Dr Farooq, details of which are available from the Pakistani authorities.