`Taliban ordered MQM leader`s killing in London`

MQM members claim the Taliban had issued a fatwa against party officials.

London: The Taliban may have ordered the brutal slaying of prominent Pakistani politician and Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) leader, Imran Farooq, in London, a media report said.

Daily Mail reported on Saturday that the Taliban angle emerged as Scotland Yard`s Counter Terrorism Command took charge of the probe from the Murder Squad into the vicious stabbing to death of Farooq outside his home in Edgware on Thursday afternoon.

Detectives are believed to be looking for an Asian man in connection with the attack that sparked panic in Pakistan`s Karachi town.

MQM members here claimed the Taliban had issued a fatwa against party officials for their opposition to Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan, giving credence to the possibility that Farooq was a victim of a political assassination.

Scotland Yard refused to speculate on the possible reasons for the killing and stressed that investigators were keeping an open mind.

Senior police officers are in touch with the Foreign Office who in turn are keeping Pakistani Government representatives in London updated.

"Clearly the victim`s background and political affiliations are going to be investigated. The possibility that the Taliban ordered the killing will be a line of inquiry.”

"But there is always a danger of jumping to conclusions and it would be wrong to commit to any particular theory at this stage," a security source was quoted as saying.

Farooq`s neighbours were left distraught by his murder.

Philippa Hamilton, a recruitment worker, said: "This sort of thing has never happened here before. It`s a quiet, leafy road. There are lots of families. It`s a real shock."

Sam Igbo, a property developer, said that a neighbour told him she watched the fight from the window.

A local resident said: "I have a friend who lives there. His mum heard screaming from outside, round the back, and when the neighbours came out they saw him on the floor."

He added: "The woman who saw it lives in the same block of flats. She saw him being knocked on the head a couple of times. She heard screams and she saw someone beating him. She said he struggled and then the guy stabbed him."

Another neighbour Gary Kramer said: "We came outside to find out what was going on. Lots of neighbours came outside. One of the neighbours said she had heard a man scream. She came down the stairs. She was the one who found him."

Farooq had claimed asylum in Britain after being on the run for seven years. He had moved to London in 1992 after a crackdown by the Pakistani military against the MQM in Karachi. He faced a slew of charges including murder and torture.

"The main reason he came to live in London was to seek asylum. The threat was there and he was very much aware of it. Nobody could really have thought that this act of violence could happen in London," said MQM member Raze Harpoon.

Last year, the Taliban had sent a DVD to the party threatening to kill its leaders if they continued to oppose them.