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Nawaf al-Tamimi

Death on the streets of London

London witnessed a number of suspected assassinations in the 1970s and 1980s [AFP]

Date of publication: 9 April, 2015

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Speculation surrounds the death of Syrian opposition member Abdul Hadi al-Arwani in London, a city with a long history of political assassinations.

The murder of Abdul Hadi al-Arwani in London has sparked a wave of speculation. The former imam was known to be a Syrian opposition activist, many suspect he was murdered for political reasons.

Arwani, 48, was shot dead in Wembley on Tuesday. The Daily Mail newspaper reported police sources as saying his death had "the hallmarks of a state-sponsored assassination".

If such claims are true, it would be the lastest in a long line of such murders in the British capital.

In 2001, Egyptian actress Soad Hosny, the "Cinderella of Egyptian cinema" was found dead at her flat in Maida Vale.
A court ruled out suicide with evidence pointing to murder.

Some have speculated that Honsy's death was linked to a memoir she was about to release, which was critical of Egypt's then president, Hosni Mubarak.

The body of Egyptian businessman Ashraf Marwan was also discovered at the foot of his balcony with evidence pointing to murder.

Critics of Muammar Gaddafi's who found refuge in London have also been targeted by Libyan intelligence officers.

In 1995, Libyan activist Ali Mohammed Abu Zaid – who had been sentenced to death in Libya due to his role in the attack on Bab al-Azizia military compound – was assassinated in his shop in central London.

     Ashraf Marwan was also discovered beneath his balcony with evidence pointing to murder.


Libyan dissidents Mohammad Mostafa Ramadan and Mahmoud Abdelsalam Nafie were both killed in 1980.



In recent years, security services have turned their attention to Russia. Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer of the FSB who deserted, died shortly after having tea with intelligence agent Andrei Lugovoi and businessman Dmitry Kovtun at a London hotel.

Toxicology reports concluded that Litvinenkowas poisoned by radioactive polonium. On his deathbed, the FSB fugitive wrote a letter accusing Russian president Vladimir Putin of giving the order to assassinate him.

The Kremlin vehemently denies these accusations.

In 2013, Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky, who was a wanted man in Russia, was found hanged in his bathroom under suspicious circumstances.

One of the most well-known assassinations in London was Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali.

The political satirist was shot in his right eye by an unknown assassin as he was walked through the British capital. He remained in a coma until his death in 1987.

Suspects include Israel's intelligence service Mossad, as Ali was a frequent critic of Tel Aviv. Others believe his satirical cartoons of Arab leaders also could be behind his murder.

Another potential assassination was of the Pakistani political leader Imran Farooq who died of multiple stab wounds in the Edgware area of north of London in 2010.

The critics might have believed they were safe from danger in London, but death found a way of visiting them.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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