UK man had chef’s knife for Pakistani blogger hit: court
A British man accused of attempting to carry out a contract killing of a prominent Pakistani blogger spent days watching his home and bought a chef’s knife, a court was told Friday.
Muhammed Gohir Khan, 31, is standing trial for conspiracy to murder the liberal activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya, who lives in self-imposed exile in the Netherlands.
Khan, from east London, was arrested and charged in June last year after visiting Rotterdam, where Goraya lives. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to prosecutor Alison Morgan, Khan twice travelled to the Netherlands under strict pandemic measures last year, after being offered up to £100,000 to act as a hitman.
When officials at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport refused him entry on June 13, he returned to the UK and took the Eurostar to Paris on June 17 and then a bus to Rotterdam two days later.
The supermarket worker, who was deeply in debt, messaged his wife: “I’m going for us, so we have something… I love you a lot.”
After checking into a Rotterdam hotel, he immediately took a taxi to the street where Goraya lived, the prosecutor said, showing the jury security camera footage.
Soon afterwards, he paid cash for a professional Sabatier chef’s knife at a homeware shop.
Morgan held up an identical long blade in a plastic bag.
Goraya was away at the time and, unable to locate the blogger, Khan returned to the UK on June 23, the prosecutor said.
Morgan has told the court in Kingston Upon Thames, southwest London, that Khan was hired by “others who appeared to be based in Pakistan”.
He corresponded via encrypted messaging apps with intermediaries promising him riches on earth and in “Jannah” or paradise, it was alleged.
Morgan said the blogger “made fun of the Pakistani military” and “went so far on occasions as to call Pakistan a terrorist state”.
In 2018, Goraya “received information from the FBI that he was on a kill list”, and feared a state-orchestrated attack, she added.
Goraya believes that some of the threats he received “were in fact being led and orchestrated by ISI,” Morgan said, referring to Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
Khan does not deny going to Rotterdam and sending the messages but says he did not intend to go through with the killing, Morgan told the jury, while arguing the evidence pointed otherwise.