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‘Love, obsession, extortion and murder’: The dramatic downfall of TikTok influencer who became a killer

Mahek Bukhari set a plan in motion to silence her mother’s former lover after he threatened her family with blackmail, Holly Evans writes

Tuesday 30 January 2024 10:16 GMT
TikTok influencer and mother guilty of car chase double murder

“To the woman who birthed me, I appreciate you so much,” a social media influencer shared on her TikTok account.

Like many other clips on the popular social media platform, the short video showed a young woman swaying to music, before a picture of her and her mother appeared within a heart.

Posted on 19 January 2022, less than a month later the two women would become embroiled in a murder plot that left two 21-year-old men dead.

The two women pose for a video together on TikTok (Screengrab)

Prior to her arrest, Mahek Bukhari had developed a reputation as an online personality, frequently sharing make-up and lifestyle tips as well as fashion advice. With nearly 130,000 followers on TikTok, 45,000 on Instagram and 3,900 subscribers to her YouTube channel, Mahek was beginning to create a name for herself beyond her immediate circle.

A scroll down her social media platforms reveals a fashion graduate with numerous friends, who spent her weekends partying in Manchester and dancing to 10-second music clips in her family bedroom.

Mahek Bukhari (right) told her mother, ‘I’ll soon get him jumped by guys’ in a chilling WhatsApp message (PA Wire)

Her 46-year-old mother, Ansreen Bukhari, regularly appears alongside her. In one video, the two women can be seen dancing with one another at their family home in Stoke-on-Trent.

Yet what appeared as a close family bond took a sinister turn in February 2022, in what became a “story of love, obsession, extortion and, ultimately – cold-blooded murder”.

Three years previously, Ansreen had begun a secret relationship with a younger man which only her daughter knew about. Despite the affair starting as “a bit of fun”, Saqib Hussain quickly fell in love with the older woman and spent thousands of pounds wooing her.

However, Ansreen had been married for more than two decades and had no intention of leaving her husband. By January 2022, she was attempting to end the relationship against her younger lover’s wishes, with Hussain becoming increasingly obsessive.

Contact between the two dramatically soured, with Hussain becoming frustrated after Bukhari stopped returning his calls. In what would prove a fatal mistake on his behalf, he turned to blackmail.

Saqib Hussain had attempted to blackmail his former lover with explicit images after she ended their affair (PA Media)
Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin was travelling alongside Saqib Hussain when they were rammed off the dual carriageway (PA Media)

Using sexually explicit images taken during their intimate moments together, he began to threaten to send them to Ms Bukhari’s husband and son.

With her whirlwind romance soon becoming a nightmare, Ansreen turned to her daughter for advice and assistance. In one ominous Whatsapp message, Mahek said: “I’ll soon get him jumped by guys and he won’t know what day it is.”

It was from then onwards that a drastic plan was set in motion to silence Hussain, in whichever way was necessary and regardless of the cost.

An agreement was initially struck for Ms Bukhari to pay her former lover up to £3,000 for his silence about the affair. The deal remained a problem, however, as the two women would have no confirmation that Hussain had deleted the sexually explicit images from his devices after the payment.

It was at this point that Mahek turned to her friend, 28-year-old Rekan Karwan, for assistance. In turn, he recruited a number of others who would each play their part in setting a trap for Hussain, hoping that in numbers they could force him to hand over his phone.

Before midnight on 11 February 2022, Hussain travelled alongside his childhood friend, Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin, to Leicester to meet the two women under false pretences.

CCTV footage of the Seat Leon and Audi TT following the Skoda Fabia driven by Mohammed Hashim Ijazuddin and Saqib Hussain before the crash (PA)

Footage from a Tesco car park showed Hussain and Ijazuddin never got out of their Skoda Fabia, with the prosecution alleging that they had gradually become suspicious.

Soon afterwards, they were seen leaving the car park with a Seat Leon and an Audi TT in quick pursuit, with both Mr Karwan and another accomplice, Raees Jamal, behind the wheels.

In his last moments, Hussain made a desperate 999 call in which he could be heard saying: “I’m being followed by two vehicles. They’re trying to block me in. They’ve got balaclavas on.

“They’re trying to ram me off the road. They’re trying to kill me. I’m going to die.”

A short scream followed, with the sound of a collision before the call ended abruptly.

Saqib Hussain's father speaks after TikToker and mother found guilty of son's murder

The dramatic crash resulted in Hussain and his friend Ijazuddin being engulfed in a fireball after their vehicle was rammed off the A46 dual carriageway.

Police footage taken at 1.35am showed the Skoda in flames, resting against the tree by the Six Hills junction. Both men were identified by their dental records after becoming trapped in the blaze.

Once arrested, those involved claimed that their intention behind the 100mph chase had been to stop the Skoda for a conversation to take place between the women and Hussain. They also provided contradictory claims that they had been travelling to a shisha bar in Nottingham and had no intention of ramming the car off the road.

During the trial, Mahek admitted to lying to both police and a previous jury concerning the events on the A46, and claimed her reasons for her false statements and providing the wrong PIN to her phone was due to “panicking”.

The Seat Leon involved in the fatal collision (PA)

Bukhari was sentenced to life in prison on 1 September after being found guilty of murder at Leicester Crown Court. Her mum 46, must serve a minimum of 26 years and nine months after being convicted of the same charge.

Sentencing, Judge Timothy Spencer KC said Bukhari’s “tawdry fame” as a social media influencer had made her “utterly self-obsessed, with a wholly unjustified sense of entitlement, and no apparent awareness of the impact you have on others, oblivious to the damage you do”.

He added: “The prosecution were right to categorise this case as cold-blooded murder.”

Fellow defendants Rekhan Karwan, 29, and Raees Jamal, 23, were also sentenced to life after being found guilty of two counts of murder. Raees Jamal must serve 31 years, while Karwan faces a minimum term of 26 years and 10 months.

Natasha Akhtar, 23, Ameer Jamal, 28, and Sanaf Gulamustafa, 23, were all found not guilty of murder, but guilty of two counts of manslaughter.

Akhtar was sentenced to 11 years and eight months, while Ameer Jamal faces 14 years and eight months and Gulamustafa 14 years and nine months. Another defendant, Mohammed Patel, was found not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Speaking after the trial verdicts, the victims’ families shared their agony following their tragic losses.

Guilty plotters: (clockwise from top left) Ansreen Bukhari, Mahek Bukhari, Raees Jamal, Rekhan Karwan, Natasha Akhtar, Sanaf Gulamustaf and Ameer Jamal, (Leicestershire Police/PA Wire)

Mr Ijazuddin’s family said in a statement: “Everyone who knew Hashim loved him. His death is not just a massive loss to our family but also to our whole community.

“On that tragic day, he was simply helping his friend and this resulted in his death. It has been extremely painful not only losing Hashim at such a young age but also in the circumstances in which we lost him.”

The family of Mr Hussain said they had been “shattered” by the “senseless act” which killed him.

“We are still struggling to come to terms with the enormity of our loss,” they said. “I never imagined that I would have to bury one of my children, that I would spend every waking moment suddenly expecting him to come back and tell me everything is OK, endlessly searching for his face whenever I am in public even though I know it is impossible.

“This grief of losing Saqib has further been compounded by having to relive the horror of my son’s death over and over again in court.”

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