A British-Pakistani “hitman” has been found guilty of conspiring to kill a Pakistani dissident in the Netherlands.
A court in London heard Muhammad Gohir Khan was offered £100,000 (about $134,000) to carry out the murder in Rotterdam last year.
However he failed to track his target down, and was arrested on his return to the UK.
Now a jury has given a unanimous guilty verdict of conspiracy to murder and he is set be sentenced in March.
The intended victim – Waqass Goraya – is a prominent social media activist and critic of the Pakistani military and government, living in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
The guilty, Gohir Khan, from east London, had racked up debts of more than £200,000 whilst running a cargo company. He was working as a delivery driver for a supermarket, but reacted enthusiastically when he was contacted about a “job” in Europe by a contact in Pakistan.
Khan claimed in court that he initially did not know what the job entailed, but he used fishing analogies in a WhatsApp conversation with a middleman man named as Muzzamil who was to take 20% of the fee.
The Pakistan-based “client” who had ordered the hit was never named in court, though Muzzamil referred to a “big boss” who gave a green light to the operation and who he had worked with for around 20 years.
Muzzamil’s full identity has not been disclosed either, though he appears to be a British national living in Pakistan. Police officials simply said the case remains an “active investigation”.
The threat to Pakistani dissidents extends to other dissidents in exile.
Ayesha Siddiqa is an academic who has written extensively about the Pakistani military. In January 2019 she received a visit and letter from police in Britain warning of “credible information” that her life was in danger if she travelled back to Pakistan.
Three other Pakistanis living in the UK confirmed to the BBC they had contact with the police over the possibility of them being targeted in Britain.
One of them, Fazal Khan, is a lawyer whose 14 year-old son Sahibzada Umer Khan was amongst the victims of a massacre at a school in the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar by militants in 2014.
Others elsewhere in Europe have also been warned by Western intelligence agencies, including Taha Siddiqui, a journalist who escaped an abduction attempt in Islamabad and now lives in France.