Police have launched a murder investigation after a man believed to have been a Syrian preacher was found with gunshot wounds in a car in north-west London today.
The Metropolitan Police have not yet formally identified the man who is in his 40s, but he has been named by local press as Imam Abdul Hadi Arwani. The man’s family have been alerted, according to police.
Mr Arwani was formerly an imam at the An-noor Masjid mosque in Acton, west London, and was a vocal critic of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Ambulance crews called the police at around 11:15am today, after a man was found with gun shot wounds in a dark-coloured Volkswagen Passat, in Greenhill, junction with The Paddocks, Wembley.
An air ambulance was called, but he was pronounced dead at the scene just over half an hour later, at 11:48am.
Officials will now arrange a post mortem examination into Arwani’s death, and the police have said investigators are retaining an open mind over what sparked the shooting.
Mr Arwani had regularly preached at the An-Noor Mosque in Acton, west London. The mosque has hosted the son of radical preacher Abu Hamza, and was the location for the November 2013 escape of terror suspect Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, who dressed himself in a burka.
Police sources said it was possible that a feud at the mosque had turned violent.
As news of his death spread on social media last night, tributes were posted on Twitter.
One read: "Former imam of Masjid an-Noor in Acton, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Arwani has been found shot dead in his car. May Allah have mercy on him and accept him."
Former Imam of Masjid an-Noor in acton,Sh. Abdul Hadi Arwani has been found shot dead in his car May Allah have mercy on him and accept him.— # T A G (@SirBakwasWala) April 7, 2015
A spokesperson for the An Noor Mosque told BuzzFeed News that they were "shocked" by the incident.
Mahmoud, a former student of Arwani, told BuzzFeed News that he was “well known among the Muslim community in West London, not just for his Syria activism, but also as a community leader.”
When asked about accusations on extremism, Arwani said that Arwani was "a moderate guy" and "outspoken on extremism, but a promoter of democracy."
Scotland Yard’s Homicide and Major Crime Command has appealed for anyone who may have seen Mr Arwani’s car in the Wembley area on Tuesday morning to get in touch. A spokesman said: “At this very early stage detectives retain an open mind regarding the possible motive.”
Detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command are urging members of the public who may have been in the area of Greenhill, junction with The Paddocks, from about 10:00am this morning who may have seen a dark coloured Volkswagen Passat or anything suspicious to get in touch.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Incident Room on 020 8358 0400, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111Reuse content