UK man found guilty of plot to murder Pakistani blogger

Muhammed Gohir Khan, 31, travelled to the Netherlands in a plot to kill his intended victim

Muhammed Gohir Khan took a Eurostar train to Rotterdam in the Netherlands where he monitored his victim. AFP

A British man has been found guilty of plotting to kill a prominent Pakistani political blogger in the Netherlands after being hired as a hitman with a fee of £100,000.

A jury convicted supermarket worker Muhammed Gohir Khan, 31, of plotting to kill the blogger and liberal activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya after being recruited by middlemen apparently operating in Pakistan.

The judge postponed sentencing until March 11.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan said Mr Goraya, who lives with his wife and two children in the Netherlands, appeared to have been made a target for speaking out against the Pakistani government and military in satirical social media posts.

Khan was hired by “others who appeared to be based in Pakistan”, Ms Morgan told the jury in London.

In 2018, Mr Goraya had “received information from the FBI that he was on a kill list”, she added, saying he feared a state-orchestrated attack.

“He believes that some of the threats that he received were from internet trolls but that others were in fact being led and orchestrated by ISI,” she said, referring to Pakistan's intelligence agency.

The lawyer told the jury Mr Goraya's social media postings “made fun of the Pakistani military” and went “so far on occasions as to call Pakistan a terrorist state".

Mr Goraya, who has lived outside Pakistan for more than a decade, did not attend the hearings.

Khan, from East London, was charged in June last year with conspiring with unknown other people to murder Mr Goraya in the Netherlands.

He was arrested after returning to the UK by train.

British police liaised with the Dutch authorities to build up a dossier of his encrypted communications with middlemen on WhatsApp and Signal and security camera footage of his movements.

After travelling to the Netherlands on Eurostar, Khan spent days watching Mr Goraya's home in Rotterdam and bought a professional chef's knife.

He returned to the UK after realising the blogger was away.

Khan, who pleaded not guilty at his trial held at Kingston-upon-Thames in south-west London, acknowledged sending the messages and travelling to Rotterdam, but claimed he was only seeking money and never intended to commit the killing.

“He was enthusiastic about carrying out the killing to earn the money and to carry out further attacks in the future,” Ms Morgan said.

Mr Goraya has previously reported violent attacks and threats made against him.

In 2017, he said he was held in captivity for weeks in Pakistan along with four other activists and tortured.

The Pakistani military denied any involvement.

Updated: January 28, 2022, 8:19 PM