Police find Pakistan link in French Alps murder case

French detectives have said they are keeping an open mind about the motive for the murders.

London: Investigations into the murder of British engineer Saad al-Hilli, his wife, mother-in-law, and a passing cyclist have led to a mystery man in Pakistan, who is believed to have been in touch with Saad in recent months.

Earlier, one of Saad’s closest friends - Gary Aked - had become concerned about his friend’s extreme anti-Israeli rants in internet chat rooms. Aked, who knew Saad for nearly 20 years, said his friend used to spend hours bombarding Arabic chatrooms with his beliefs on Israel, the invasion of Iraq and the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, reports the Mirror.

Police are investigating the theory that he had been radicalised.

"Saad’s strong beliefs, which would be viewed by many as being ­extreme, is something of interest to the investigation. The police are trying to ­establish whether Saad had crossed the line, and one name has come up on the radar and this person is from Pakistan," a source said.

"It is the first time that Pakistan has been brought up in ­relation to the investigation. Extremists from that country, where there are a number of terror cells, are regular visitors to these chatroom sites. Saad could have made himself a target," the source added.

Saad, 50, a resident of Claygate, Surrey; his wife Ikbal, 47, and his mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were shot near Annecy in their BMW estate on September 5.

The couple’s daughter Zainab, seven, was seriously wounded, but her sister Zeena, four, escaped unhurt after hiding under her mother’s skirt. Sylvain Mollier, a passing French cyclist, was also shot dead.

Gary revealed how Saad had recently replaced his online profile, showing a picture of his eldest daughter with an image of an Arabic ­leader.

French detectives have said they are keeping an open mind about the motive for the murders.