London

Terror police probe murder of Syrian Abdul Hadi Arwani

An Noor mosque in Acton, west London Image copyright PA
Image caption A man in his late 40s was found with bullet wounds in a parked car in Wembley

Counter-terrorism police are investigating the murder of a Syrian man found with bullet wounds in a car in north-west London.

Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, from west London, was found dead on Tuesday in Greenhill, Wembley.

The Syrian-born British national was believed to be a critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Met said its officers remained "open-minded" about a motive for the former imam's death.

Counter-terrorism detectives were now conducting inquiries because of their expertise in investigations with international dimensions, Scotland Yard said.

Mr Arwani was born in Syria and is believed to have attended protests against the Assad regime outside the Syrian embassy in London in 2012.

Mr Arwani had claimed he had been forced to flee Syria in 1982 because the country's regime sentenced him to death for photographing damage in his home city of Hama following government suppression of a rebellion.

'Sadly missed'

Mr Arwani, who was married and had six children, was a preacher at the An Noor mosque in Acton, west London, from 2005 to 2011.

In a statement, the mosque said: "We have with great sadness heard of the unfortunate death of Shaykh Abdul Hadi Arwani who was the former imam of the An Noor Cultural and Community Centre. He will be sadly missed."

Mr Arwani's son, Murhaf, said: "My family and I have been in a state of shock ever since we learned of this terrible news.

"We have not slept and our minds are a blur as to what happened and why."

He added that his father had been involved in the fight against extremism and was "the voice of reason and transparency" during his time as an imam at the An Noor mosque.

Police were called to reports of a man with bullet injuries to his chest at the junction of The Paddocks on Tuesday at about 11:15 BST.

Officers discovered Mr Arwani, who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem examination is due to take place on Thursday.

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