LONDON: Two Afghan men suspected of planning to kidnap and murder a female relative after she left the UK and renounced Islam have been arrested following an operation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Mohammed Patman, 54, and Darya Khan Safi, 49, both originally from Afghanistan, were detained by officers from the NCA’s Armed Operations Unit (AOU) at their respective homes in London and Coventry on Wednesday September 4.
The pair were wanted by the Slovakian authorities for conspiring to murder the 25-year-old woman, who was living in Austria and working in Slovakia at a company she ran with her husband.
The National Firearms Threat Centre and the AOU initiated an investigation into Patman and Safi in October last year after being alerted by the Slovakian authorities of the alleged murder plot.
AOU officers undertook surveillance on the two men as they prepared to make multiple trips to both Austria and Slovakia where, investigators believe, they carried out their own surveillance on the victim.
They were seen blacking out the windows and swapping the tyres for winter tyres on a vehicle they subsequently used to drive to both countries.
Phone and internet records for the pair were obtained which officers allege show the men discussing the potential murder plot including planning of events, both at home and abroad.
Patman and Safi are being held on European Arrest Warrants and will now face extradition to Slovakia, said a statement by the NCA. They have been remanded in custody until their next appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday 12 September.
NCA Senior Investigating Officer, Matthew Perfect, said: “Patman and Safi were sought by the Slovakian authorities for the extremely serious offence of preparing to commit first degree murder. Protecting the British public is a core part of the NCA’s mission and these are two potentially violent individuals who will no longer pose a threat.
“They were arrested as a result of some excellent joint working between the NCA and our partners in Slovakia and throughout Europe. Such strong international cooperation is key in allowing us and our partners to pursue the most dangerous criminals across borders.”
NCA Director General Lynne Owens later tweeted: “This has been a deeply concerning & difficult investigation with officers having to balance threats to life & securing evidence. A whole agency effort including our international liaison officers & critical partners overseas.Well done teams.”