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    Police officers at the scene of the assassination of Pakistani exiled politician Imran Farooq in London in 2010

    In the Crosshairs: Gerald Hoarau and Toll of Political Assassinations in Europe

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    A British man who was arrested in connection with the assassination in London in 1985 of an opposition politician from the Seychelles, has been released on bail. Sputnik looks at the some of the most high profile assassinations - or attempted killings - of politicians and diplomats in Europe.

    Ian Withers, 77, who was arrested in Antrim, Northern Ireland on Thursday, August 2, in connection with the investigation into the murder of Gerard Hoarau in Edgware, north London, in 1985 was released on bail on Friday, August 3.

    Mr. Hoarau was shot several times with a Sterling sub-machine gun on November 29, 1985 when he answered the door of his suburban London home in Greencourt Avenue.

    "There is no evidence that links me to it whatsoever. I have got no idea who murdered him," Mr. Withers told the Sunday Life newspaper. 

    The UK-educated President of the Seychelles, Albert René, was widely believed to have been responsible for Mr. Hoarau's assassination. René had survived a coup attempt in 1981, led by British mercenary "Mad Mike" Hoare.

    René, now 83, finally stepped down in 2004, handing over the reins of power to his Vice President, James Michel.

    Three people were convicted in 1986 for perverting the course of justice in relation to the investigation but nobody has ever been charged with his murder.

    But he was not the first or the last politician or diplomat to be gunned down on foreign shores.

    Shlomo Argov — 1982

    On June 3, 1982 the Israeli ambassador to London, Shlomo Argov, 52, was shot in the head as he left a diplomatic function at the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair, central London.

    His bodyguard fired back, injuring the gunman, Hussein Ghassan Said.

    Argov was rushed to the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in Bloomsbury where he underwent an emergency operation to save his life. But his injuries were blamed for his eventual death in 2003.

    Two days after Argov was shot Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Menachem Begin launched Operation Peace for Galilee, a full-scale invasion of southern Lebanon.

    At the time the PLO were suspected of being involved in Argov's shooting and the invasion was sold to the Israeli public as removing the PLO from their headquarters in Beirut.

    But it later transpired Said and his two accomplices were actually linked to Abu Nidal, a Damascus-based Palestinian terror group, and one of them, Nawaf al-Rosan, was actually an Iraqi intelligence officer.

    In March 1983 Said, al-Rosan and Marwan al-Banna were convicted of Argov's attempted murder.

    The full file on Argov's attempted assassination has been sealed until 2062 on "health and safety" grounds.

    Libyan Exiles — 1980/1

    The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi allegedly ordered 10 killings — four in Rome, two in London and one each in Milan, Bonn, Athens, and Provo, Utah.

    Among those killed were Libyan businessman Aref Abdul Gelie, who was shot dead in a Rome café in April 1980. Gelie was "an enemy of the people and of Khadafy, which is one and the same thing," said Yousef Msallata Vidha, who was arrested in connection with Gelie's death.

    ​On April 27, 1980, Gaddafi warned opponents living abroad to return home by June 10 or face death by his assassination squads.

    Two weeks later Omran el Mehdawi, a 43-year-old former diplomat who had defected from the Libyan Embassy in Germany, was shot dead in a Bonn shopping center.

    Ten days later Mohamed Foud Buohjar, 55, was found dead in Rome and a note was found nearby which was signed by the "Libyan Revolutionary Committees operating in Rome."

    The killing spree ended on July 17, 1981 when a Libyan student, Nabil Abuzed Mansour, 32, found shot dead at Weber State College in Utah.

    But Libyan exiles would remain in grave danger for the next three decades until Gaddafi's fall from power.

    Shahpur Bakhtiar — 1991

    In 1979 the Shah of Iran was overthrown and among those who fled the country was Shahpur Bakhtiar, who had been the Shah's last prime minister.

    Bakhtiar had actually studied law at the Sorbonne in Paris and even fought in the French army during the Second World War.

    So France was a natural place for him to go into exile.

    Ironically Ayatollah Khomeini, who returned to take power in Iran, had been in exile in France since 1978, when he had been expelled from Iraq.

    Bakhtiar set up the National Movement of the Iranian Resistance but was immediately targeted by Iranian death squads.

    He survived two assassination attempts but on August 6, 1991, Bakhtiar was tricked into inviting three Iranian agents into his home in Suresnes, a Paris suburb.

    After his secretary, Soroush Katibeh, served tea one of the hitmen suddenly stabbed him in the throat.

    They killed Katibeh and then fled the house. Two of them eventually escaped to Iran but the third, Ali Vakili Rad, was caught and jailed for life in 1994. He was finally paroled in 2010.

    Imran Farooq — 2010

    On September 16, 2010 Imran Farooq, a former leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a political party in Pakistan, was stabbed and bludgeoned to death in a leafy street in Edgware, the same district of north London where Gerald Hoarau was killed.

    The assassins fled back to Pakistan but in 2016 Khalid Shahim and Syed Mohsin Ali confessed to police in Pakistan to having murdered Farooq.

    Farooq had been granted asylum in the UK and later gained British citizenship.

    He was reportedly planning to form a breakaway faction of the MQM at the time of his death.

    ​The two killers have reportedly implicated Altaf Hussein, the leader of the MQM, as the man who was ultimately behind the murder.

    The MQM was originally founded in 1984 to represent the Muhajir community — the descendants of Urdu-speaking Muslim refugees who moved to Pakistan from India when the country was partitioned in 1947.

    It remains one of the dominant parties in the city of Karachi but has been torn by internal divisions.

    Altaf Hussein fled to London in 1991 and now leads the MQM-London while Farooq Sattar leads MQM-Pakistan, which has just been invited into coalition government under Pakistan's new prime minister Imran Khan.

    Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou — 1989

    In July 1989 Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, was shot dead in Vienna as he stood at a negotiating table with a delegation from Iran.

    Iranian Kurds had risen up against the Islamic Republic during the Iran-Iraq war but when the war ended Ghassemlou agreed to negotiations in Vienna, where he was living in exile.

    His assistant Ghaderi Azar also was hit by eleven bullets and a mediator, Fadhil Rassoul, was also killed.

    Sadegh Sharafkandi — 1992

    In September 1992 Sadegh Sharafkandi and three other Iranian Kurdish opposition leaders were shot dead at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin, along with their translator Nouri Dehkordi.

    The following year an Iranian intelligence officer and another man were convicted of the murders and jailed for life.

    The trial heard the killings had been ordered by the then President of Iran, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who died last year.

    Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez — 2012

    On January 10, 2013 the bodies of three Kurdish female activists — Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şoylemez — were found in the Kurdistan Information Center in Paris.

    All three were supporters of the Kurdish nationalist PKK movement and the finger of suspicion naturally fell on the Turkish government.

    The killings took place as the Turkish government was negotiating with PKK leaders, including Abdullah Öcalan.

    PKK activists in Paris claimed "dark forces" in the Turkish deep state were responsible and sought to derail the negotiations.

    The only man ever arrested in connection with the deaths, Ömer Güney, died of a mystery illness in jail in December 2016 while awaiting trial.


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    shooting, murder, assassination, stabbing, Metropolitan Police, Imran Khan, Israel, Paris, Vienna, London
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