Iceland delivery driver on £11-an-hour is convicted of becoming £100,000 hitman in bid to murder blogger 'on kill list' for criticising Pakistan's government

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Muhammad Gohir Khan was hired to kill Ahmad Waqas Goraya in NetherlandsHe bought a 19in paring knife but the target was not at his Rotterdam homeKhan was then arrested under anti-terror laws on return to London on EurostarHe was 'enthusiastic' about the job due to his debts, owing creditors £200,000

An Iceland delivery driver on £11-an-hour is facing life in jail after he acted as a  £100,000 hitman in a bid to murder a blogger told he was on an FBI ‘kill list’ for criticising Pakistan’s government. 

Muhammad Gohir Khan, 31, was hired and directed by unknown people within the South Asian country to kill blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya in the Netherlands in June last year.

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The driver travelled to Rotterdam and bought a 19in paring knife, but the target was not at his home and Khan was held under anti-terrorism laws on his return to London on the Eurostar.

Mr Goraya, who lives with his wife and two children, was abducted and tortured by Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency on his return to the country in 2017 after his secret blog was discovered, Kingston Crown Court heard.

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He was told he was on a ‘kill list’ by the FBI in December 2018 and believes he and his family received threats ‘led and orchestrated’ by the ISI after he was publicly accused of insulting God and the Prophet.

Prosecutors said Khan, who earned £11-an-hour as a driver, was ‘enthusiastic’ about carrying out the killing – and further attacks – to earn money as he was heavily in debt, owing creditors more than £200,000.

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Muhammad Gohir Khan, 31, was hired and directed by unknown people within the South Asian country to kill blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya (pictured) in the Netherlands in June last year

Muhammad Gohir Khan, 31, was hired and directed by unknown people within the South Asian country to kill blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya (pictured) in the Netherlands in June last year

As well as working for Iceland, he was also running a ‘pound shop’ selling household goods in Upton Lane, East London and working for Uber Eats and Deliveroo as a driver in the evenings.

His travel and export business had collapsed but he had still taken out a government-backed Covid ‘bounce back’ loan for £45,000 and turned to importing mangoes, he told the court.

Last February, a court made a bankruptcy order against Khan, finding that he owed over £153,000 to a business loan company called Funding Circle.

Along with other debts, by August 2021, he owed ten creditors a total of £204,436.06 with no obvious means of paying his creditors.

Khan, who lived with his parents, wife and six children in Forest Gate, east London, claimed he had no intention of murdering Mr Goraya but played along to ‘extract money’.

But today, he was found guilty of conspiracy to murder between February and June last year following a trial. 

The court heard Mr Goraya has frequently called Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’, made fun of the military and highlighted human rights abuses in online posts. 

He is not a practising Muslim and identifies as ‘secular, strongly democratic and a left-leaning progressive-liberal.’ 

He said he was attacked in February 2020, received a picture of the inside of his home in reply to a tweet and was told ‘that whatever the price, Pakistan was going to kill him’.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told the jury: ‘Someone wanted him to be killed and it may well be that the motive for killing him was linked to his political activism.

‘Those who wanted Mr Goraya dead were prepared to pay money to ensure that happened.’

The plotters referred to targets as ‘fish’ in messages as they finalised the £100,000 deal, with Mr Goraya referred to as ‘a little fish’ and ‘not a shark’.

The driver travelled to Rotterdam and bought a 19in paring knife, but the target was not at his home and Khan was held under anti-terrorism laws on his return to London on the Eurostar

The driver travelled to Rotterdam and bought a 19in paring knife, but the target was not at his home and Khan was held under anti-terrorism laws on his return to London on the Eurostar

In one message to a contact in Pakistan, known as ‘Mudz’ or ‘Zed’, Khan said: ‘I need to arrange fishing rods and accessories,’ in what the jury heard was a reference to sourcing a weapon.

When Khan was sent a picture of the intended victim, along with his name and address, on May 19 last year, he asked Zed to confirm it was not a ‘debt-related job’.

He was told: ‘100% brother. This is going to make you rich in Dunya (the world) and JANNAH (paradise).’

Khan travelled to Rotterdam in the Netherlands and sought to locate the victim, purchasing a knife which he intended to use to kill Goraya.

However, unknown to him, Goraya was not at home and after three days of fruitless attempts to locate him, Khan gave up and travelled back to the UK.

His behaviour on return sparked suspicions in a Border Force officer at the Eurostar terminal, who notified police and he was questioned and later arrested under anti-terrorism laws. 

He told police the trip was part of his plan to extract money from ‘Muzmil’ – a man he had first met while a schoolboy in Lahore – who had stolen from his cargo shipping business and ripped him off over the sale of a car.

He claimed he had bought the knife to cut steak, bread and fruit, telling jurors: ‘Never did I intend, or through my messages, was I conspiring to murder Mr Waqas.

‘I was only there, I was only chatting (to) him to extract the money he stole from me, to cover my losses.’

Mr Justice Hilliard adjourned sentencing to March 11. 

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