Boney M link to imam’s murder: Brother of band’s lead singer suspected of organising murder of Syrian-born preacher

The brother of Boney M’s lead singer Liz Mitchell has been arrested in connection with the killing of a Syrian-born imam.

Burnell ‘Bernie’ Mitchell – who changed his name to Khalid Rashad after converting to Islam – has been held on suspicion of conspiracy to murder after the death of Abdul Hadi Arwani, a Syrian national.

The 61-year-old has also been arrested on suspicion of preparing and instigating acts of terrorism as Scotland Yard detectives continue to investigate Mr Arwani’s shooting.

A 36-year-old man has been charged with his shooting while a woman, aged 53, was arrested this in Brent on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Burnell 'Bernie' Mitchell - also known as Khalid Rashad - has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and terrorism offences 

The 61-year-old's sister is Liz Mitchell (second from right), the lead singer in the band Boney M  

Burnell ‘Bernie’ Mitchell – also known as Khalid Rashad – (left) has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and terrorism offences. His sister is Liz Mitchell (right),  lead singer of the 1970s band Boney M

Syrian-born 48-year-old Abdul Hadi Arwani (pictured) was found dead in his car on Tuesday. One man has been charged with his murder while Mitchell is held on suspicion of conspiracy to murder 

Syrian-born 48-year-old Abdul Hadi Arwani (pictured) was found dead in his car on Tuesday. One man has been charged with his murder while Mitchell is held on suspicion of conspiracy to murder

Mr Mitchell, who founded An Noor Mosque in Acton where Mr Arwani was a preacher until 2011, was arrested on Wednesday night on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.

On Thursday afternoon Scotland Yard revealed they had further arrested the Jamaican national on suspicion of terrorism offences.

His sister is the singer Liz Mitchell who fronted the 1970s band Boney M and whose hits include Rasputin and Daddy Cool.

A spokesman for the singer declined to comment today.

The siblings were raised in Britain as strict Christians, having fled the Caribbean as children.

Last night Mr Mitchell’s home was searched at the same time as An-Noor Mosque which he founded more than 20 years ago because ‘he and his Muslim friends had nowhere to go’.

They are investigating the death of Mr Arwani, a 48-year-old Syrian national who was found killed in his car last week.

Search: Police visited the Wembley home of Burnell Mitchell, a director of the mosque where Mr Arwani used to preach regularly 

Search: Police visited the Wembley home of Burnell Mitchell, a director of the mosque where Mr Arwani used to preach regularly

Leslie Cooper has been charged with his muder

Arrests: A second man has been arrested over the death of Syrian iman Abdul Hadi Arwani

Within days of Mr Arwani’s body being found last week, Metropolitan Police drafted in the help of Counter Terrorism officers ‘because of their expertise in the management of investigations with international dimensions and an established liaison network abroad’.

Today a spokesman confirmed searches were ongoing at the An Noor mosque.

‘Officers are fully aware of the sensitivities of conducting this search at this time and would like to thank the local Muslim community for their support and patience thus far in the necessary investigations that have occurred to date,’ a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

‘This remains a murder investigation and a search for the truth; it is therefore vital that the investigation is thorough which includes a detailed searches of premises.’

Today the Old Bailey heard how Mr Arwani  he was killed after being lured to north London to meet a potential client for his building company.

It was then the 48-year-old was murdered by 36-year-old Leslie Cooper, a prosecutor told a judge during a pre-trial hearing.

The Jamaican businessman, who was arrested while his family enjoyed a barbecue, did not enter a plea, appearing via video link from prison.

‘A member of the public noticed he had collapsed at the wheel and the car was running that morning’, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow said.

Mr Arwani was described as 'the most peaceful man you could wish to meet' by his family last week 

Mr Arwani was described as ‘the most peaceful man you could wish to meet’ by his family last week

Police pictured outside the An Noor mosque in north west London while searching the premises. Mitchell was listed as a director of the mosque where Mr Arwani used to preach 

Police pictured outside the An Noor mosque in north west London while searching the premises. Mitchell was listed as a director of the mosque where Mr Arwani used to preach

Mr Arwani was found dead last week in this Volkswagen Passat on a street in Wembley. Police believed he visited the scene in the days before his death 

‘Concerned for his health, they contact police and paramedics who discovered Mr Arwani had been shot five times and was already dead.’

Mr Glasgow said Mr Arwani and his son, who was also part of the building firm, had met a man called ‘John’ two days earlier over a possible renovation job.

‘They collected the individual on April 5 and were taken to the property in Wembley but he explain they couldn’t get access to the premises because his wife was not there’, he said.

‘Arrangements were made to come back and view the property some days later..’

Hassan Anyabwile (pictured last week) was brought in to replace Mr Arwani at An Noor Mosque 

Hassan Anyabwile (pictured last week) was brought in to replace Mr Arwani at An Noor Mosque

Mr Arwani rearranged the viewing for April 7, said Mr Glasgow, and was last seen alive leaving his family home at 9.30am to go to meet the man called John.

‘There was no further contact with the deceased and his family’, he added.

Cooper did not speak during the hearing other than to confirm his name. He has not yet entered a plea to one charge of murder.

He is one of three people to have been arrested in connection with Mr Arwani’s death. Alongside Mr Mitchell is a 53-year-old woman arrested on Thursday morning on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Mr Arwani was a preacher at An Noor mosque in Acton until 2011 when he left under reportedly frayed tensions.

The father of six was described by relatives as ‘the most peaceful man you could wish to meet’ upon the news of his death last week.

One of his sons said he ‘actively’ fought extremism while friends added he was a vocal critic of the President Assad’s government.

He is thought to have fled Syria as a teenager after being told he would face violence to photographing damage in his home city of Hama.

Speaking after his father’s murder, Murhaf Arwani said: ‘He just loved to help people. He did not care what your background, race or status was.

‘He did not care if you were rich or poor. He just wanted to help people in need.

‘He spoke up and out against the crime of terror and oppression wherever he found it. He was an advocate of peace for all and he showed us this in the way he lived his life from day to day.’

Last week the Caribbean preacher who replaced Mr Arwani at An Noor Mosque denied claims the 48-year-old had left under strained relationships.

Hassan Anyabwile, who was involved in an attempted coup d’etat in his native Trinidad and Tobago 25 years ago with the Muslim group Jamaat al Muslimeem, told MailOnline he knew nothing of a reported dispute between Mr Arwani and the mosque.

Asked about the 48-year-old’s death he said: ‘All I can say is from Allah we come, and to Allah we return.’

He was assisted into the mosque – which currently remains closed as officers search its premises – by a bodyguard after becoming partially disabled.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3041232/Boney-M-link-imam-s-murder-Brother-band-s-lead-singer-suspected-organising-murder-Syrian-born-preacher.html#ixzz3XVGW2LVT

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