Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Father-of-six imam 'assassinated' on London street by 'Syrian hit squad'

  • Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, found dead in Volkswagen Passat on London street
  • Was a fierce critic of Assad and has been in demonstrations against him
  • Preacher is understood to have six children, including a one-year-old girl 
  • Mr Arwani was a preacher at the An-Noor Mosque in Acton, west London 
A Syrian preacher at a fundamentalist mosque was shot dead in broad daylight on a London street yesterday in a suspected assassination by his country's regime.

Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, a fierce critic of president Bashar al-Assad, was found slumped in a Volkswagen Passat with wounds to his chest in the suburban street at 11.15am.

An air ambulance was called but he was declared dead at the scene in Wembley half an hour later. 

The preacher is understood to have six children, including a one-year-old girl.

Outspoken: Abdul Hadi Arwani had taken part in a demonstration against President Assad three years ago 
Outspoken: Abdul Hadi Arwani had taken part in a demonstration against President Assad three years ago 

Last night a police source told the Daily Mail that the killing had all the hallmarks of a 'state-sponsored assassination'.

Detectives are now trying to establish whether his strong opposition to Assad was the motive.
He was involved in violent anti-Assad demonstrations outside the Syrian Embassy in London three years ago.

Police were forced to use riot shields to beat back protesters after they broke through barriers, and six people were arrested. 

Mr Arwani told reporters during the demonstration: 'This building belongs to the Syrian people, not a regime killing people every single day for ten months.'

Last night tributes were posted to him on Twitter. One read: 'Just received the news Sheikh Abdul Hadi has been murdered. may Allah grant him jannatul firdous [paradise].'

Another tweeted: 'The outpouring of tweets and posts in his memory is incredible. Irreplaceable to many Muslim youth today. RIP Sheikh Abdul Hadi.'  

Jihad Kader posted on Facebook: 'Sheikh Abdul Hadi Arwani was martyred this morning as many of you are aware, shot in Wembley.

'I was fortunate enough to have him as one of my teachers and was also a close family friend, always there to help and ever so humble.

'He was so active, never turning down the opportunity to be involved in good. He was the most optimistic person I ever met, a real inspiration.

'He tried to encourage the Sunnah and was always keen to practice it. He talked highly of martydom and Allah granted it to him.

'Just a reminder that this is what he would have wanted us to be like, active and optimistic. Spread his knowledge and any useful information you have of his. Keep him and his family in your duah.' 

Scotland Yard's homicide and major crime command appealed for anyone who might have seen the Volkswagen in the hour leading up to the killing to get in touch.

A spokesman said: 'Police were called by the London Ambulance Service at 11:15am today to reports of a man found suffering what is believed to be gunshot injuries to his chest.

'The man, aged in his late 40s, was found sitting in a dark coloured Volkswagen Passat, in Wembley. The man was pronounced dead at the scene at 11.48am. At this very early stage detectives retain an open mind regarding the possible motive.'

Mr Arwani was a preacher at the An-Noor Mosque in Acton, West London, which has a reputation for hosting fundamentalist speakers. 


The family of nine caught trying to get into lawless Syria are no longer welcome in England and should find a new country to live in, Labour MP Simon Danczuk has said.
The Rochdale MP said anyone who is prepared to join IS will 'rightly be seen as an enemy of the UK'.
The 48-year-old's comments come after nine members of the same family – including the 21-year-old son of Rochdale Labour councillor Councillor Shakil Ahmed's and four children – were arrested in Turkey last Wednesday on suspicion of trying to cross into Syria.
Mr Danczuk told MailOnline: 'The idea that someone who was prepared to join IS could be allowed to return to civilian life in Rochdale and carry on as though nothing has happened is unacceptable.'
The mosque also has well-established links to Syria. Regular worshipper, Ali al-Manasfi, 23, was shot dead at a check point in Idlib province, Syria, in May 2013, apparently while fighting with a group called Ahrar al-Sham.

Mohamed Dubad, 44, a part-time IT engineer said he had seen Mr Arwani several days ago at the mosque.

He added: 'This is a shock. He was a quiet, simple person.'

A woman who has been attending mosque since 2011 added: 'I used to help in his office to fix his Korans and his wife used to teach me Arabic.
'I have good memories of him. I'm still digesting what happened to him, it will take a while.' 

A former student of of Arwani, who gave his name as Mahmoud, said he was 'well known among the Muslim community in West London, not just for his Syria activism, but also as a community leader.'

He added: 'He was the type of person you'd go to if you had a problem, or if you had questions you needed to ask.
'He was a moderate guy, and was against all forms of violence and extremism. He was looking out especially for younger Muslims.'  

Mr Arwani was born in Syria but had been based in the UK for the past three years, where worked as an Islamic teacher.

According to the London College of Islamic Studies, he had studied at the Faculty of Sharia in Jordan, and was a teacher at various Islamic seminaries in Slough and West London.

Mr Arwani was considered an authority on Islamic marriage contracts and divorce law, working mostly in London.

Father-of-six imam 'assassinated on London street by Syrian hit squad had been forced to step down over his mosque's links to extremism'

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